Denver Dynamite (arena football)

This article is about the former Arena Football League franchise. For the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL-Pro) soccer club, see Denver Dynamite (soccer).
Denver Dynamite
Established 1987
Folded 1991
Played in McNichols Sports Arena
in Denver, Colorado
League/conference affiliations
Team colors

Blue, Yellow, White

Owner(s) Gary Graham
Head coach Babe Parilli
Team history
  • Denver Dynamite (19871991)

League championships (1)

Conference championships (0)
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
Division championships (0)
Prior to 1992, the AFL did not have division
Playoff appearances (4)
1987, 1989, 1990, 1991
Home arena(s)

The Denver Dynamite were an arena football team based in Denver, Colorado. The team began play in 1987 as a charter member of the Arena Football League. The team was brought in by businessman Sidney Shlenker and the team achieved success instantly, winning the first ever ArenaBowl under AFL Hall of Fame coach Tim Marcum. After sitting out the 1988 season, the Dynamite were purchased by investment banker Gary Graham for $125,000. Graham then hired former NFL and AFL coach, Babe Parilli to lead the team. Under Parilli, the Dynamite would return to the playoffs every season, but failed to return to the ArenaBowl. After the 1991 season, the franchise filed for bankruptcy after being sued by their public relations firm. They played their home games at McNichols Sports Arena. The team's logo was a bundle of dynamite sticks with a burning fuse.



Original Denver Dynamite helmet from 1987

In 1987, businessman and owner of the Denver Nuggets Sidney Shlenker announced the forming of the Denver Dynamite.[1] The franchise played in the inaugural four-team "demonstration" season of 1987.[1] Despite the team and league's doubters,[2] the Dynamite tied for the best record in the league with the Pittsburgh Gladiators, going 4-2. On August 1, 1987 the team participated in ArenaBowl I, which they won 45-16 over the Gladiators.[1] The Dynamite were lead on offense by quarterback Whit Taylor,[3] and wide receiver Gary Mullen (Mullen won ArenaBowl I MVP).[1][4] After winning the ArenaBowl, Head Coach Tim Marcum was named the league's first ever Coach of the Year.[1] Despite averaging the league's best attendance with over 12,000 a game,[1] it did not return for the league's second season due to Shlenker refusing to abide by the AFL's financial rules.[1]


The franchise was restarted in 1989, with the ownership purchased by Englewood, Colorado investment banker, Gary Graham for $125,000.[1] Graham's first move was to hire former NFL and AFL coach, Babe Parilli as the team's head coach.[5] The team struggled to earn money during the 1989 season due to only hosting one home game.[1] The team finished with a 3-1 regular season record, and lost in the first round of the playoffs, 37-39 to the Gladiators.[6]


With the same coaching staff in place from 1989, the Dynamite got off to a hot 4-1 start during the 1990 season. The Dynamite would finish the season with a record of 4-4, good enough to clinch the 3rd seed. The team lost 25-26 to the semi-finals to the Dallas Texans.[7] The attendance had been steadily rising during the season, with the final home game's attendance listed at 10,587. This was later found to be skewed as around 3,000 people were admitted for free.[1] The AFL stepped in an began to question the Dynamite as some of the player's checks began to bounce during the season.[1] Graham cited that the only problem came from a bookkeeping error.[1]


Despite the financial turmoil that occurred the season before, the Dynamite once again fielded a team in 1991. The team finished 6-4 during the regular season,[8] again clinching the 3rd seed for the playoffs. The team lost to the relocated Gladiators, who became the Tampa Bay Storm, in the semi-finals. After the season, the franchise filed for bankruptcy after being sued by their public relations firm.[1] When he learned of the situation in Denver, AFL commissioner, Jim Foster has this to say, "Three things can happen. One, he finds a buyer, or we find him a buyer, and the team stays in Denver. Two, a buyer is found and moves to another city. Three, no one is interested and the franchise goes down."[1] The Dynamite went up for sale, but with the city trying to attract investors to land a Major League Baseball franchise (Colorado Rockies), the team did not attract potential buyers.[1]

Future of the Dynamite and arena football in Denver

The owners retained the rights to operate an Arena Football franchise, however, which they sold in 1996 to a Nashville, Tennessee-based group which started the first Nashville Kats franchise (later the Georgia Force) the next year.[1]

Denver received a new arena football team in 2003, when the Colorado Crush, owned by Pat Bowlen and John Elway, was established.[1] That franchise has since folded and the Crush name was acquired by the Indoor Football League team for its name change in 2015 from the Colorado Ice, leading many to wonder if the Dynamite may return to the AFL in the future.

Notable players

Final roster

Denver Dynamite roster

Wide Receivers/Defensive Backs

Running Backs/Linebackers
  • -- Willie Cannon
  • -- John El-Masry
  •  3 Marshall Foreman

Offensive Linemen/Defensive Linemen

Wide Receivers/Linebackers


Rookies in italics
Roster updated January 23, 2013
23 Active, 0 Inactive, 0 PS

More rosters

Arena Football Hall of Famers

Denver Dynamite Hall of Famers
No. Name Year Inducted Position(s) Years w/ Dynamite
?? Fred Gayles 2002 WR/DB 1989
1 Gary Mullen 1998 WR/DB 1987
73 Joe March 2000 OL/DL 1991
-- Tim Marcum 1998 Head Coach 1987

Individual awards

Kicker Player of the Year
Season Player Position
1991Rusty FrickeK

All-Arena players

The following Dynamite players were named to All-Arena Teams:

Notable coaches

Head coaches

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 1991 Arena Football League season.

Name Term Regular Season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Tim Marcum 1987 4 2 0 .667 1 0 Coach of the Year
Babe Parilli 1989-1991 13 9 0 .591 0 3 Coach of the Year (1989)




  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Joey Bunch (October 22, 2012). "Denver Dynamite exploded in Arena League's first season, then fizzled out". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  2. Buddy Martin (June 20, 1987). "Arena football: Try to avoid the temptation". Star-News. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  3. Brent Wiseman (December 2, 2003). "Whit Taylor to be honored as "SEC Legend"". MSN. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  4. "Arena Football League Championship : Taylor Leads Dynamite, 45-16". Los Angeles Times. August 2, 1987. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  5. "ON THE SIDELINES : Parilli Named Dynamite Coach". Los Angeles Times. June 27, 1989. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  6. "1989 Denver Dynamite Team History". ArenaFan. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  7. "1990 Denver Dynamite Team History". ArenaFan. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  8. "1991 Denver Dynamite Team History". ArenaFan. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
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