WideRight

USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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Tampa's new design, perhaps modeled after the shirt Burt Reynolds wore in the original Smokey & the Bandit.  (Nike would never admit to that, but we suspect it.)

 

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What's coming in 2004?

 

1. What 2 USFL mega-stars will be signed away by the NFL?

2.  How will their respective teams try to recover?

3.  What rookie signings will become the faces of the expansion franchises as Birmingham and Pittsburgh return to the USFL?

4.  Will Gunther Cunningham be fired in Denver after only 1 year?  And what of former USFL Champion coach Sam Wyche in Chicago?

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Kinda bummer Slc and Lv don't get teams yet    Hopefully in the future huh ? 

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4 hours ago, mkg74 said:

Kinda bummer Slc and Lv don't get teams yet    Hopefully in the future huh ? 

Check out the parragraph after declaring Pittsburgh the 2004 expansion team.  I think you will be pleased. Name the team contests will happen. 

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16 hours ago, WideRight said:

1. What 2 USFL mega-stars will be signed away by the NFL?

 

I'm getting a Brett Favre vibe here ... but to be honest, I'm not clear how many years he has under his belt by now.

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3 hours ago, WideRight said:

Check out the parragraph after declaring Pittsburgh the 2004 expansion team.  I think you will be pleased. Name the team contests will happen. 

 

I didnt read the whole story initialy lol my bad. Great news indeed!!

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I'll put in a vote for Salt Lake City, given that it will be just fresh off of hosting the 2002 Winter Games.

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2003-2004 USFL Offseason UPDATE

 

In October of 2003 the USFL announced the name the team contests for both of the 2006 expansion teams, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.  Each competition was sponsored by local media in the respective markets.  Here, from those contests, are the 4 contending identities for each city.  Which would you have voted for?

 

LAS VEGAS...

 

1) Las Vegas Vultures-- A native bird to the Nevada deserts and mountains, the vulture symbolizes strength, cunning and tenacity.

 

2) Las Vegas Aces-- A name that evokes both the industry that put Las Vegas on the map and the brave heroics of America's Air Force and Navy flyers. 

 

3) Las Vegas Locomotives-- The roots of Las Vegas lie in the railroad, and this team will be a freight train bound for victory!

 

4) Las Vegas Vipers-- Quick and elusive, decisive and deadly, the Viper is a foe you don't want to mess with. 

 

 

SALT LAKE CITY

 

1) Salt Lake City Swarm-- The bee is a symbol of Utah, but why settle for one when you can have a whole swarm on the field?

 

2) Salt Lake City Spikes-- The railroad linked east to west and Utah's proud railroad heritage is the inspiration for this squad.

 

3) Salt Lake City Stags-- The great American Elk stands proud in the Wasatch.  A mighty beast capable of defending their turf against any challenger.

 

4) Salt Lake City Pioneers-- The spirit of the old west is alive in the Pioneer spirit of the USFL. 

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I vote Las Vegas Vultures (or go outside the box with "Sin City Devils") and Salt Lake City Spikes.

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Vipers and Spikes

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I personally like Vipers for Las Vegas and Pioneers for Salt Lake.

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Vipers and Swarm...though is there a reason you're using "Salt Lake City" instead of "Salt Lake" or "Utah" as the locale name?

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Aces and Utah Swarm.

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2004 USFL SEASON

To call the 2004 season a year of upheaval may not do it justice.   No sooner had the season ended then the chaos began. The NFL was out for blood, after ratings for the Super Bowl, for the first time ever, were lower than for the USFL Championship the year before.  Add to that the fact that the 2002 NFL season had been marred by poor offensive play, due mostly to number of teams simply having no answer at QB, and the time was ripe for some major raids of the USFL.   It began even before Tampa hoisted the championship trophy as the San Diego Chargers jumped into a tough negotiation in Philly and signed Stars QB Tom Brady to one of the most lucrative contracts in football history.   Only 1 week later the Cincinnati Bengals came to an agreement with Orlando QB Brett Favre.  Just like that two of the biggest stars of the USFL had crossed over to the fall league.  Favre actually started playing for the Bengals in midseason of the 2003 campaign.

 

But the bloodshed did not stop there.  The Pittsburgh Steelers snapped up Charlotte QB Tommy Maddox, Atlanta’s star RB Fred Taylor was signed by the Miami Dolphins and Portland wideout Herman Moore went to the Detroit Lions.   But the signings did not stop on the field, some of the top USFL coaches were also snapped up by NFL teams desperate to improve their franchises.  Boston’s Dick Jauron was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Orlando’s Kevin Kilbride was lured to Kansas City and oft-maligned Memphis coach Mike Holmgren returned to San Francisco to head up the 49ers.

 

USFL franchises scrambled to replace lost leaders, with only marginal success in most cases.  The loss of Favre prompted Orlando to sign 49er QB Jeff Garcia, while Atlanta’s new headman Mike Nolan lured Colts wideout Reggie Wayne to the Spartans.  New Jersey, who had not had any major losses, also stole away a top NFL player, snagging RB Clinton Portis. 

 

The wild offseason was heightened by teams needing to sacrifice more players to the expansion draft.  Both Birmingham and Pittsburgh used the expansion draft to build rosters, though few name players were included, it allowed both teams to add depth and develop some younger talent.

 

While the USFL clearly lost out in the free agent swaps with the NFL, it shone in the draft, with several top prospects signing with the spring league.  Birmingham and Pittsburgh took full advantage of the territorial draft to add both big names and top talent to their rosters.   Birmingham signed Ole Miss QB Eli Manning, brother of NFL star Peyton, before draft day.  With their first territorial pick, Pittsburgh locked up Pitt Panther wideout Larry Fitzgerald, though they still did not have a QB to get him the ball.

The established franchises followed suit.  Philadelphia, still shaking from the loss of Brady to the NFL, scrapped plans to go defensive with their first round pick and signed Miami, OH quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Charlotte too looked to the draft for a QB, but they waited until the 3rd round to draft Virginia’s Matt Schaub.  Other notable names in the 2004 draft included QB Luke McCown to Arizona, RB Julius Jones from Notre Dame to Chicago and their new head coach Scott Linnehan, and DT Vince Wilfork signing with the Jacksonville Bulls.

 

NFL coaches were also signed to replace those lost in the free agency scramble.  Boston signed the recently fired Raiders Bill Callahan to run their operation, while in Washington, the firing of Steve Mariucci led the Federals to go with Panthers DC Jack Del Rio.  With Holmgren off to the NFL, much to the delight of perennially disappointed Showboat fans, Memphis opted to sign former Ram offensive guru Mike Martz.  While down in Orlando, the Renegades decided that Chicago’s loss was their gain, signing the former USFL Champion coach Sam Wyche to a 3 year deal.

 

Finally, in further expansion news, the Name the Team contests in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City moved into a new phase as each franchise provided fans the opportunity to guess which of the two finalist identities was the winner.  Las Vegas fans were offered the choice of the Vipers and the Locomotives, despite Loco’s finishing 3rd in the first round of voting.  In Salt Lake City the options were the Stags and the Swarm, with both garnering a lot of support.

 

When March rolled around, the USFL was ready to get back on the field, with a lot of new faces and a lot to be sorted out.  The league owners had expanded the playoffs to 12 teams with the addition of Birmingham and Pittsburgh, and this did bring on some good fights for positioning, home field, and byes as only the top 4 teams would get a rest week during the Wildcard round.  The season proved to be far more predictable than the offseason had been.  The expansion teams struggled, teams that had played well in 2003 continued to do so (with the exception of Arizona who suffered an injury-plagued collapse), those franchises that had top of the line QB play seemed to fare better, such as Boston (McNabb), Michigan (Hasselbeck), San Jose (Gannon), and Tampa Bay (Brunell), while those that were still seeking a franchise QB struggled.  Philadelphia seemed to have hit on a gem in picking big Ben Roethlisberger as their replacement for the departed Tom Brady while Memphis’s 2nd year signal caller Steve McNair flourished under the tutelage of new head coach Mike Martz. 

 

In the playoffs, top seeds did what they should, using the byes and home field to their advantage.  The divisional and semifinal games were close, providing lots of drama as the Boston-San Jose game required 2 overtimes before the Beacons won out and the Tampa Bay-Michigan semifinal game came down to a last second 51 yard field goal by Bandit kicker John Carney.

 

The Championship did not prove to be as exciting as the playoffs had built up.  Tampa, the defending league champion, was simply unable to gameplan an effective strategy to contain both Shaun Alexander and Michael Vick.  While they held Vick to what, for him, was a pedestrian 47 yards rushing, Alexander was the beneficiary, carrying the load for Dallas to the tune of 19 carries for 132 yards and 3 TD’s.  The game remained close through the first half at 17-10, but Dallas scored 14 unanswered points to pull away in the 3rd.  Tampa’s only other score was a late “garbage time” TD that did not challenge the final outcome. 

 

2004 USFL Final Standings

 

NORTH

 

*BOS   10-4

*PHI      9-5

NJ         7-7

WSH     5-9

 

ATLANTIC

 

* JAX     9-5

*CHA     8-6

BAL       6-8

ATL       6-8

 

CENTRAL

 

*MICH   10-4

STL        7-7

CLE       6-8

CHI       4-10

PIT        3-11

 

SOUTH

 

*TBY    10-4

*NOR     8-6

*MEM     8-6

ORL       5-9

BIRM     2-12

 

WEST

 

*DAL   11-3

*HOU    8-6

SAN      6-8

DEN      4-10

 

PACIFIC

 

*SJO    10-4

*LA         9-5

POR       6-8

ARZ       5-9

 

 

2004 USFL Playoffs

Wildcard Round                       Boston(5) d. Houston(12)             Memphis(11) d. Jacksonville(6)

                                                Los Angeles(6) d. Charlotte(10)    Philadelphia(7) d. New Orleans(8)

                                               

 

Divisional Round               Dallas(1) d. Memphis(11)                   Michigan(2) d. Philadelphia(7)   

                                          Tampa Bay(3) d. Los Angeles(6)        Boston (5) d. San Jose(4)

 

 

Semifinal Round               Dallas(1) d. Boston(5)                     Tampa Bay(3) d. Michigan(2)

 

2004 USFL Championship             Dallas 31   Tampa Bay 17

 

2004 USFL Award Winners

2004 Most Valuable Player:  Shaun Alexander, RB, Dallas

2004 Coach of the Year: Mike Martz, Memphis

2004 Rookie of the Year:  Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Philadelphia

 

2004 USFL Expansion, Relocation and Logo/Uniform Updates

1)      The Birmingham Stallions returned with a logo and uniform largely reminiscent of their former selves.  The use of dark and light tones of both Crimson and Gold were noteworthy, but for the most part the design was a tribute to the prior incarnation of the club.

 

2)      In Pittsburgh the cartoon steelworker was replaced with a logo which reminded many of the hammer of Thor more than a steelworker’s mauling hammer, but the logo, combined with a heavier use of steel-grey provided the Maulers with a look which proved to be very popular in the traditionally Black & Gold sea. 

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Re-Introducing the Birmingham Stallions.  Similar to Wash. State a few years back, the Stallions are using two tones of both crimson and gold for highlights on their logo and in their striping.  

 

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And the unexpected but welcome return of the Pittsburgh Maulers, with a logo that those of you in Berlin and those familiar with NFL Europe may recall. 

 

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