Dr. Jerry Argovitz, former agent and owner of Houston Gamblers, dies at age 85

Argovitz is a Texas native and owned the Gamblers of the USFL until the team was sold in 1985.

HOUSTON — Dr. Jerry Argovitz, a dentist who later became a powerful sports agent and owner of the United States Football League’s Houston Gamblers, has died.

He was 85 and passed away in Houston, according to his daughter Kari. A memorial service will be held on May 14 at 11:00 a.m. at Congregation Beth Israel Memorial Garden in Houston.

Argovitz, a Texas native, was the principal owner of the upstart Gamblers, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, until they were sold in 1985 to a group of New York investors who owned the New Jersey Generals, including Donald Trump. The two clubs eventually merged; Argovitz was later named president and chief of football operations.

He earned millions of dollars representing roughly two dozen pro football players in the early 1980s including Billy Sims of Detroit, Robert Brazile of Houston, Joe Cribbs of Buffalo, Curtis Dickey of Baltimore, and Miami’s David Overstreet. The USFL forced Argovitz to sell his agent business when he became a franchise owner to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

“Having Argovitz out of the agenting business is a relief to NFL owners everywhere who became accustomed to Argovitz clients missing training camps and games in contract disputes,” wrote Gary Taylor of UPI in 1983.

The United States Football League never played a 1986 season following an attempt to move its season from spring to fall.

Argovitz later endowed the Jerry Argovitz Sports Institute in California. In 2015, Rancho Mirage (CA) High School dedicated a football stadium after Argovitz, who was a seasonal resident there.

 This story has been updated to correct the age and place of death of Dr. Jerry Argovitz.

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