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USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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1 hour ago, rjrrzube said:

Spartans, and the other logo will make a great secondary. 

 

And Samurai. What does the Japanese say? I think I'd rather it say "SJ" in a Japanese-ish font.

 

EDIT: Yeah, I see the "SJ" in the ribbon, but not at first! 

That kanji in the middle is the Japanese character for "samurai."

 

And I like the subtlety in the logo and ribbon...I hope he doesn't change it.

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Spartans and changing my vote to Samurai. 

 

Do the Eagles and the Stars get along in this universe?

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San Jose Samurai!!!

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Samurai and Spartans from my point of view.

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I think we have a clear consensus now...just waiting for your announcement.

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I agree, and that is coming soon.  I have a few things to finalize before the reveal... and I have to figure out what happened in 1998 as well. 

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I know that you're trying to make the participation of a Japanese company the explanation for the use of the nickname "Samurai".  But I strongly doubt that any Japanese company would acquiesce to the use of part of Japanese tradition in an American sports league, especially knowing that fans would then be encouraged to dress up in ways that would inevitably be disrespectful.

 

 

samurai-warrior-costume.jpg  41k5kmdx6lL._SX342_.jpg

 

So I'd say that "Samurai" as a nickname is completely unrealistic.

 

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1998 USFL Season  (Part One)

 

The 1997 Fall Meetings in New York were scheduled to be a somewhat muted affair.  The league would announce the expansion franchises and their new head coaches in Atlanta and San Jose, discuss some proposed rule changes and contracts for expanded merchandising.  But, whatever the plans for the meetings might have been, they were tossed aside 24 hours before the meetings officially opened when the Oakland Invaders threw a big ball of chaos into the proceedings with a hastily scheduled press conference.  Without first seeking league approval, the Invaders announced their immediate intention to vacate their Oakland offices, back out of the second year of their contract with Cal-Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, pack up all the team equipment and motor east to Cleveland. 

 

The “Cleveland Invaders” had been in the works in secret for over a year, with the understanding that the NFL’s promised return in Fall 1999 had led to construction of a new stadium.  The Invaders leapt at the chance to get 2 seasons in Cleveland under their belt, even if it meant playing in nearby Akron until the new stadium was ready.  The team ownership had promised to chip in 30% of the construction costs and Al Lerner, the new Browns owner, was eager to share the cost of both construction and upkeep of the stadium.  Many of the other USFL owners were furious at the underhanded nature of the deal and the lack of consideration given to the league processes.  The Invaders had abandoned Oakland in much the same way as the Colts had Baltimore a decade earlier, though in fairness they had never drawn the same allegiance as their NFL parallels. 

 

With some significant concessions, Oakland’s ownership, led by Tad Taube and Alfred Taubman, were able to wrangle the votes they needed, a narrow 11-10 vote (The Invaders, along with the two newest expansion franchises did not have votes in this matter) led to approval of the relocation.  San Jose would now flood the Oakland market with advertising to try to draw in the Invaders fans, and Cleveland would have pro football 2 seasons ahead of schedule. 

 

The move forced a cascade of new issues which needed to be resolved at the ownership meeting.  The introduction of the Atlanta Spartans and San Jose Samurai would happen as planned, but instead of dealing with rule changes and merchandising, the owners and particularly the competition committee would need to spend the week realigning the divisions to match the new franchise alignment.  It was only after this was agreed upon that LA, Arizona and Portland would approve the relocation, granting the Invaders the votes they needed.

 

The league had carefully planned the new 6-division format for the 24 teams, but would have to scrap both the alignment and the incipient schedule and start from scratch.  In the end the new alignment had more detractors than supporters as several traditional rivalries were separated, but the owners approved it out of desperation to build a schedule in time for winter season ticket sales push.

 

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1998 Season (Part Two)

 

After the upheaval of the league meetings, the expansion and rookie drafts, as well as free agency,  were expected to be calm affairs, but they were anything but ordinary.  Oakland continued to be a disruptive factor, as the relocation also led to a shift in territorial draft options for several teams, but the biggest surprise was the sudden spending spree of several teams which had fallen on hard times in recent years. 

 

Memphis lobbied long and hard to sign rookie Tennessee QB Peyton Manning, but Manning was NFL bound, so the Showboats settled on acquiring offensive talent in the form of rookie RB Robert Edwards from Georgia (Trade with new Atlanta franchise), and former NFL players QB Neil O’Donnell and WR Andre Rison.

 

In the QB sweepstakes the big winner was Columbus, who stole away former Miami Hurricane and Cleveland Brown signal caller, Vinny Testaverde.  The new San Jose franchise brought in some NFL talent in the form of former Viking and Chief Rich Gannon at QB, Chief RB Greg Hill and Saints OLB Mark Fields.

 

In the rookie draft, several top tier prospects opted for the USFL, including Michigan’s Heisman winner, Charles Woodson, who would stay local with the Panthers; Florida RB Fred Taylor, who signed with Atlanta, Auburn’s Takeo Spikes (Birmingham) and Nebraska RB Ahman Green (St. Louis).  The biggest signing, in controversy if not in dollars was outspoken and under-fire Marshall wideout Randy Moss, whose signing by New Jersey put him in the media spotlight.

 

That signing, while controversial, proved emphatically the right call as Moss ran away with Rookie of the Year honors as he caught long floating bomb after long floating bomb from the aging, but still nimble, Generals QB Doug Flutie.  The Flutie to Moss connection racked up 17 TD’s in only 14 weeks.  This dynamic duo, combined with the surprisingly strong running combo of NFL castoff  Larry Centers and 2nd year player Troy Davis led the Generals all the way to the USFL Championship.

 

The season also saw solid play from all 4 of the recent expansion teams, though wins remained hard to come by.  Retirements on both offense and defense hurt both LA and Philadelphia, while the erratic play of QB Jim Harbaugh hurt Michigan’s season.  In New Orleans Brett Favre survived a 4 game suspension for league policy violations surrounding an off-season outing in the French Quarter to lead the Breakers to the playoffs once again, while in Arizona strong play (despite a flurry of midseason interceptions) from Jake Plummer catapulted the Wranglers to the division title.

 

With expansion, new divisional alignments and new coaches in Jacksonville (Al Groh), Columbus (Kevin Gilbride) and San Antonio (Dave Campo) the season was wide open, and new division rivals such as New Orleans and Tampa Bay or Atlanta and Charlotte, and Cleveland & Columbus would begin new blood feuds. 

 

In the playoffs, the Generals’ newfound offensive firepower was simply too much for the league as they ran roughshod through their games.  Most of the nation was looking forward to a New Jersey-New Orleans matchup of dynamic offenses, but the upstart Arizona Wranglers shocked the Breakers, forcing Brett Favre to throw 3 interceptions, including a late pick-6 which ended any chance for the Breakers.  The luck of the Wranglers ran out the next week however, as in the Championship Game it was Jake Plummer who was error prone, with 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions, as New Jersey ran away with the game and their second title.  Doug Flutie won the game’s MVP, though many felt it should have gone to the rookie wideout who caught 8 passes for 127 yards and 2 TD’s.

 

1998 USFL FINAL STANDINGS

NORTH

 

*NJ      12-2

WSH    7-7

PHI      6-8

BOS    5-9

 

ATLANTIC

 

*JAX     9-5

*BAL     8-6

CHA     5-8-1

ATL      3-11

CENTRAL

 

*CHI      10-4

*CLE      8-6

COL       6-8

MICH     6-8

SOUTH

 

* NOR   11-3

*BIRM    8-5-1

MEM      7-7

TBY       5-9

 

WEST

 

*DEN    9-5

SAN      7-7

STL       5-9

HOU      4-9-1

PACIFIC

 

*ARZ     9-5

*POR    8-6

LA         6-7-1

SJO       3-11

 

 

1998 PLAYOFFS

Wildcard Round        Birmingham(7) d. Portland(10)      Baltimore(8) d. Cleveland(9)

 

Divisional Round       New Jersey(1) d. Baltimore(8)      New Orleans(2) d. Birmingham(7)

                                  Jacksonville(6) d. Chicago(3)        Arizona(4) d. Denver(5)

 

Semifinals                New Jersey d. Jacksonville           Arizona d. New Orleans

 

1998 USFL CHAMPIONSHIP         New Jersey 38   Arizona 19

 

1998 AWARD WINNERS

USFL MVP:  Doug Flutie, QB, New Jersey

USFL Coach of the Year: Jim Fassel, New Jersey

Rookie of the Year:  Randy Moss, WR, New Jersey

 

1998 RELOCATION, EXPANSION & UNIFORM/LOGO UPDATES

1.       Oakland Invaders relocated to Cleveland to become the Cleveland Invaders.  No uniform or logo change, only renamed.

 

2.       Expansion Atlanta Spartans began play in the Georgia Dome under Coach Mike Tice.  The team name was chosen to emphasize the warrior attitude of the franchise. Colors: Navy, Teal and Orange.

 

3.       Expansion San Jose Samurai begin play under the leadership of former Buccaneer Assistant Head Coach Herm Edwards.  Colors are Deep Purple, Crimson and Silver.

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And the winner is Spartans.  The ATL logo is used as a sleeve logo, but the Spartan helmet is chosen along with the name.  

 

TDNSGmC.png

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And despite perhaps not being the most culturally sensitive option, Samurai does win the fan vote by a wide margin. How this will play out in the more sensitive 2010's will have to be seen later, but that is a solid 15 years away.   A lot can happen in that time. 

 

0vLfRu1.png

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Awesome job on both teams.

 

Still would like to see some WLAF logos pop up in the USFL and NFL. Houston/Orlando Galaxy perhaps? San Diego/Virginia Beach Admirals? I dunno. Just a thought.

 

Keep it up. ;)

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Love seeing Randy Moss in Jersey. Love the title win even more. And... since the Spartans' uniforms are basically a recolor of the current Pats set, are the Patriots gonna look any different after 2000 in-universe?

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The samurai look sharp. Titans as well.   Invaders to Cleveland??  Boy does Oakland take the shaft huh I feel sorry for that town 

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6 hours ago, Jimmy Lethal said:

Love seeing Randy Moss in Jersey. Love the title win even more. And... since the Spartans' uniforms are basically a recolor of the current Pats set, are the Patriots gonna look any different after 2000 in-universe?

 

Actually, the Spartans' uniforms are based on the WLAF uniforms of 1996 or 1997.  If you look at the Galaxy, Sea Devils, Thunder or Centurions from that time they all use the shoulder swatch with different colored side piping as their base uniform.  I wanted to bring some WLAF/NFL Europe design into the league without the ridiculous "logo on the front of jersey" extremes. 

 

Oh, and you can expect that the Patriots are never becoming "THE PATRIOTS" in  this universe.  In fact, Tom Brady may never play in the NFL.  As you might guess from my avatar and username, I am a Bills fan, so this little pocket universe is one where the Patriots of the 2000's are a lot more like the Cleveland Browns of our universe.  In fact Bill Belicheck may actually find himself out of work for most of the decade, or stuck in Cleveland, whichever I deem to be a worse fate. 

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1 hour ago, mkg74 said:

The samurai look sharp. Titans as well.   Invaders to Cleveland??  Boy does Oakland take the shaft huh I feel sorry for that town 

 

We shall see.  After all, with the Oilers staying in Houston the NFL still needs to add a 32nd team after they bring back the Cleveland Browns in 1999.  The frontrunners would be cities that have had USFL success, which includes Birmingham, Memphis and Oakland.  Actually it may end up being Nashville that gets the shaft because the NFL might opt for Memphis instead of Nashville.  Who knows?  Now that we are past the last big USFL expansion for a while, there may be more USFL and NFL relocation to consider. 

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