Memphis Showboats owner William Dunavant, stung by the team's...

By AMANDA SHARP  |  March 19, 1984
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Showboats owner William Dunavant, stung by the team's humiliating 54-6 loss to Birmingham, said Monday he will inject $2 million into the player budget of the struggling United States Football League franchise.

'We were outmanned on the field, from what I saw Saturday night,' said Dunavant. 'We want to make a minimum commitment of $2 million to additional players for the Showboats.'

The Showboats gained an average 2.4 yards on each first-down play as the Stallions outgained Memphis 468-165.

Dunavant said his team's $2.7 million player budget, much of which pays the salaries of quarterback Walter Lewis and injured defensive end Reggie White, failed to account for the rising value of professional football players.

'I find that our player budget is right in the middle of player budgets for the 17 USFL teams,' said the millionaire cotton merchant. 'Today's professional football player is worth more. Players they (other teams) have signed are worth a lot more money in today's market than they were a year ago.

'The values have changed since the league was started.'

Coach Pepper Rodgers said the money would be used to add two or three 'difference-makers' to his squad.

'We need help with the skill positions,' said Rodgers. 'I don't have anybody in mind.

'We have a team that needs some help and a $2 million commitment is fantastic,' Rodgers said. 'But you've got to get something for your money. We want to get people who can help us win.'

Dunavant said the Showboats would probably wait until the National Football League draft ends before approaching any players.

'We're hopeful when the NFL draft comes up, there will be a lot of players who find themselves not near the postures that they thought they were going to be in prior to the NFL draft,' Dunavant said.

'It will give us in the USFL a lot more opportunity to do some bargaining and get some of the better players,' he said.

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