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United States Football League Sports history has shown that it is very difficult for nascent pro sports leagues to challenge old, established ones. Nevertheless, there are entrepreneurs always willing to try. From 1983 through 1985 the United States Football League existed as a spring/summer league. The USFL was the brainchild of David Dixon, a New Orleans antique dealer. In 1980, Dixon commissioned a study by Frank Magid Associates that found promising results for a spring and summer football league. He'd also formed a blueprint for the prospective league's operations, which included early television exposure, heavy promotion in home markets, and owners willing to absorb years of losses—-which he felt would be inevitable until the league found its feet. The USFL secured television contracts from both ABC and ESPN. The league also was able to sign several collegiate stars--most notably Herschel Walker who was still an underclassman. Mostly, however, the public responded with yawns. Television ratings and overall attendance were below expectations. Teams often spent far more than the proposed $1.8 million salary cap to land big-name players. In three seasons, 23 different teams played under the USFL banner. The Breakers were a typical USFL franchise, operating in three different cities (Boston, New Orleans, and Portland) over the three years. Teams typically wallowed in debt. The San Antonio Gunslingers were in such dire straits that some players, whose pay checks had bounced, were exchanging their complimentary game tickets for food and were boarding at the homes of sympathetic fans. The USFL was dealt its death blow in a courtroom in 1986 when it won an antitrust lawsuit versus the National Football League--but the jury awarded the USFL only $3 in damages. Still, some USFL innovations were evenutally adopted by the NFL. These included the two-point conversion, the use of instant replay to assist officials, and a salary cap.
Tags: USFL  football 
Added: 21st November 2009
Views: 1532
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-11-21 
My favorite USFL anecdote concerned the merging of the Oakland Invaders and the Oklahoma Outlaws: Sports Illustrated suggested the new team be called the In-Laws.
Posted by: DesiluTrek on 2009-11-21 
Actually, the USFL was far more credible than this article implies. They really were on the verge of making it as a spring-summer league, but in 1986, Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, decided to force a confrontation with the NFL and move the USFL season to the fall. The league couldn't secure fall dates and folded.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-11-22 
I'd argue that the USFL gambled its tenuous future on winning the antitrust lawsuit with the NFL. The fall schedule would have been a disster. USFL teams in NFL cities were having trouble attracting a following. In the back of their minds, the USFL owners hoped for a court victory that would force a merger between the two leagues. The $3 judgement was the death knell of the USFL.
Posted by: eric1957 on 2009-11-23 
Another team that switched cities were the Washington Federals which became the Orlando Renegades as well as the Chicago Blitz. The Blitz switched teams with the Arizona Wranglers. Arizona got the good Blitz team while the Blitz got the bad Wrangler team. Besides having gone against the NFL was that the USFL expanded too soon. They did have a good thing going.
Posted by: Marty6697 on 2009-11-24 
We had The Michigan Panthers who won it all. Im not sure what year it was. My Dad had season tickets at The Pontiac Silverdome, great seats on the 50 yard line. My brother and I went once when he couldn't take my little brother. Great game against The Arizona Gunslingers. We called them the Boogerslingers Lol!
Posted by: Marty6697 on 2009-11-24 
Another thing! Around here all you had for pro football were The Detroit Lions, and you all know about them.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-11-24 
Yes, the Michigan Panthers won the first USFL championship game in 1983.

Bit of USFL trivia: The last USFL alumnus to play in the NFL was punter Sean Landeta whose last NFL season was 2007.
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