The United States Football League was a professional American football league that played between 1983 and 1985, in the process presenting the rival NFL with its greatest competitor since the 1960s version of the AFL.
At first the USFL competed with the NFL by avoiding direct competition - playing its games on a March-June summer schedule. The league also offered rule innovations later adopted by the older circuit, including the two-point conversion, the instant replay challenge system, and other innovations.
While the league was enormously successful on the field, acquiring such talented players as Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, Reggie White, Doug Flutie, Steve Young and a host of others, it was an enormous failure in terms of its teams management.
While no teams folded during any season of the league, it was a close call in many cases. A summary of the league's turmoil: after the 1983 season, the owners of the Arizona and Chicago franchises traded teams, the Boston Breakers team was unable to gain access to Foxboro Stadium and relocated to New Orleans, and the league agreed to increase its membership by 50% by adding six expansion franchises in an effort to recoup their first-year losses. After the 1984 season, the Breakers moved (again) to Portland, the Los Angeles Express owner abandoned the franchise, the league champion Philadelphia Stars were evicted from their stadium and would relocate to Baltimore, the Michigan Panthers would merge with the Oakland Invaders, the Arizona Wranglers (nee Chicago Blitz) would merge with the Oklahoma Outlaws, the Washington Federals would transfer to Orlando and become the Renegades, and the Chicago Blitz (nee Wranglers) and Pittsburgh Maulers, the latter owned by billionaire mall magnate Edward J. DeBartolo, simply folded up shop.
The league's death knell was sounded on October 18, 1984, when the league's owners voted to go head-to-head with the NFL beginning in the Fall of 1986. The league also filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the older league, claiming it had established a monopoly in terms of television rights, and in some cases access to stadium venues. The case went to trial, and while the USFL won the battle it lost the war, as the jury awarded the upstarts a token $1 judgment.
Shortly after the verdict it suspended its planned 1986 season and appealed the verdict. Various legal maneuvers over the next few years kept the league technically alive into the early 1990s, but the USFL never played another down of football.
TEAMS OF THE USFL
- Arizona Outlaws (1985; result of Arizona/Oklahoma merger)
- Arizona Wranglers (1983, 1984; Arizona and Chicago owners traded franchises)
- Baltimore Stars (1985; moved from Philadelphia)
- Birmingham Stallions (1983-1985)
- Boston Breakers (1983)
- Chicago Blitz (1983 ,1984; Arizona and Chicago owners traded franchises)
- Denver Gold (1983-1985)
- Houston Gamblers (1984-1985)
- Jacksonville Bulls (1984-1985)
- Los Angeles Express (1983-1985)
- Memphis Showboats (1984-1985)
- Michigan Panthers (1983-1984)
- New Jersey Generals (1983-1985)
- New Orleans Breakers (1984; moved from Boston)
- Oakland Invaders (1983-1985; merged with Michigan for 1985 season)
- Oklahoma Outlaws (1984)
- Orlando Renegades (1985)
- Philadelphia Stars (1983-1984)
- Pittsburgh Maulers (1984)
- Portland Breakers (1985; moved from New Orleans)
- San Antonio Gunslingers (1984-1985)
- Tampa Bay Bandits (1983-1985)
- Washington Federals (1983-1984)
- Arizona Outlaws
- Baltimore Stars
- Birmingham Stallions
- Jacksonville Bulls - merged team of Jacksonville with Denver Gold.
- Memphis Showboats
- New Jersey Generals - merged team of New Jersey with Houston Gamblers.
- Orlando Renegades
- Tampa Bay Bandits
- 1983 - Michigan Panthers 24, Philadelphia Stars 22
- 1984 - Philadelphia Stars 23, Arizona Wranglers 3
- 1985 - Baltimore Stars 28, Oakland Invaders 24
- 1983-1984 - Chester R. "Chet" Simmons (removed)
- 1984-1989 - Harry L. Usher (league ceased operations)