We celebrate our second anniversary with the intriguing background story of the original Major Indoor Soccer League, with the man who started it all – Ed Tepper.
A commercial real estate developer by trade, Tepper actually got his start in pro sports ownership as the owner of the original National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings – only to switch allegiances to an inchoate indoor offshoot of the world’s most popular sport after a chance exhibition (between the 1973 NASL champion Atoms and the Russian CSKA “Red Army” team) at Philadelphia’s Spectrum on February 11, 1974.
Originally interested in the game’s bespoke Astroturf-covered surface as a potential improvement for his fledgling box lacrosse club, Tepper (along with 11,700+ enthusiastic curiosity-seekers) instead became instantly attracted to the fast-paced action and high scoring of “indoor soccer” – and quickly resolved to make a professional sport out of it.
In this illuminating interview, Tepper recounts some of the notable events and influential people along the journey from concept to the MISL’s official debut kick (by Cincinnati Kids part-owner Pete Rose, no less) on December 22, 1978 at Uniondale, Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum – including:
Convincing ABA Virginia Squires owner (and eventual MISL commissioner) Earl Foreman of the game’s potential;
The instant credibility boost of signing American superstar goalkeeper Shep Messing;
NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam’s on-again, off-again interest in the indoor game;
How (and why) NFL owners Carroll Rosenbloom and Al Davis wanted in; AND
The unsung role of TV executive Bob Wussler in garnering attention for the fledgling circuit.
PLUS: The untold tale of Tepper’s very own (barely one-season long) MISL franchise – the New Jersey Rockets!