Charter members of the World Football League (WFL)
in 1974, the Memphis Southmen began as the Toronto Northmen
. However, before the team could play a down, the Canadian government passed legislation to block any U.S.-based football league from operating in Canada. Unwilling to undergo a protracted legal battle, owner John Bassett
moved the team to Tennessee and renamed it. Before the move, he signed NFL stars Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield to $1 million a year contracts to begin in the league's second season 1975, of which only 12 of 20 games were completed before the league folded. Elvis was a fan and attended many games, including the team's opener where he sat with Bassett and fellow singer Charlie Pride. Bassett would later establish the Tampa Bay Bandits
in the United States Football League.