Wednesday, July 1, 2009

USFL GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN - UFL draft brings back memories

The UFL (United Football League) just held its inaugural draft with a few familiar names among those drafted and more familiar names (Brooks Bollinger, JP Losman and Chris Perry) to come after training camp. Every time a new football league pops up and I see some players that I recognize I get really excited only to be disappointed when the season begins. I can't stop comparing them to my all-time favorite defunct football league of the 80's the USFL. From the IFL (Indoor Football League) to the XFL (Extreme Football League) to the AFL (Arena Football League), nothing compares. The USFL is that ex-girlfriend that broke your heart that you compare all future girlfriends too. I truly loved the USFL, not only did it fill my football fix during the boring months of baseball but there was also some quality football being played. Who can forget Herschel Walker running over stacked defenses or Steve Young scrambling away from all-out blitzers. Throw in the multi-purpose Kelvin Bryant, the gunslinging of Jim Kelly and the acrobatic catches of Anthony Carter and you have a great league.

The USFL started play in 1983 with 12 teams across the country playing 18 regular season games. The first season featured an overtime divisional championship and a barn burner of a finale with the Michigan Panthers defeating the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 on a Bobby Herbert touchdown pass to Anthony Carter.

The next season the league expanded to 18 teams divided into four divisions and the Stars bounced back going 16-2 in the regular season. They sailed to the championship game where the Stars dispatched the Arizona Wranglers 23-3. The playoffs were again exciting with a 3 overtime game and another 1 point finish in the quarterfinals.

The last season of the USFL saw the league drop 4 teams and then combine the teams into 2 conferences. The Baltimore Stars (relocated from Philadelphia) took their 2nd title 28-24 over the Bobby Herbert led Oakland Invaders (Michigan folded in 1985). This would be the beginning of the end for the league. The San Antonio Gunslingers, Houston Gamblers and Los Angeles Express struggled financially as the league decided to switch to the fall in 1986 where it would go head to head with the NFL. The league never got under way and then folded.

The USFL had 3 consecutive Heisman Trophy winners play in the league (Herschel Walker, Mike Rozier and Doug Flutie ) and many players who would go on to star in the NFL (Jim Kelly, Walker, Flutie, Reggie White, Sam Mills, Nate Newton, Dan Ross, Mel Gray, Gary Zimmerman to name a few). The league was truly becoming a league that I enjoyed to watch and I was heartbroken when it folded in 1986.

Top 10 Favorite FACTS About The USFL.

1. $3.76
The USFL won a whopping $3.76 in its anti-trust suit against the NFL

2. Donald Trump
Trump was the owner of the New Jersey Generals

3. Al Davis
Davis was the only NFL owner to testify for the USFL in its lawsuit.

4. Dan Marino
Marino was the 1st overall pick of the USFL draft in 1983.

5. Sean Landetta
After Landetta retired in 2008, there are officially no players left on NFL rosters from USFL teams.

6. 3 Million Dollars
That was the cost of a USFL franchise in 1984.

7. Instant Replay
The USFL used the 2 point conversion and head coach's challenge before the NFL. The NFL would copy the USFL and adopt them later

8. Females
The USFL was the first to have females shoot film of coaches on the sidelines.

9. 73,227
The number of fans that showed up to watch the New Jersey Generals play the Jacksonville Bulls on March 4th 1984.

10. 618
The Houston Gamblers led by Jim Kelly scored 34 points a game in their inaugural season. Kelly also threw 44 touchdown passes that year.

I miss you USFL...I am not holding my breath that the UFL will fill the void in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Your top 10 facts about the USFL are great! Here are a few others for your blog's readers:

    - Walter Duncan: the man who owned the Generals in 1983 and later sold it to Trump. Most people forget this! Duncan was the one involved with the Walker signing, as it is mistakenly attributed to Trump.

    - Franchise Swap: one of the few, if only, ever franchise "swaps" where the 1983 Chicago Blitz players became the 1984 Arizona Wranglers and vice-versa. Neither team would play in 1985.

    - Eddie Einhorn: Partner of Reinsdorf in Chicago bought the Blitz after 1984 and went "dormant." This is one of the most forgotten ties that USFL ownership had with other pro sports.

    The DeBartolos: The father owned the Pittsburgh Maulers at the same time the son owned the 49ers. According to most reports, the USFL ownership was not in great concern about this but the NFL ownership was.

    Hope this helps fuel additional fun facts about the USFL!