WideRight

USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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Louisville Monarchs

Sacramento Sabers

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Decided to change my vote:

 

Louisville Kings (maybe have a sun in the logo a la "The Sun King" Louis XIV whom Louisville is named after)

Minnesota Crusaders (assuming that the team would end up in St. Paul)

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Minneapolis Lights

Minneapolis Loons

Minnesota Voyagers

 

Louisville Thoroughbreds

Louisville Foresters

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Louisville Kings 

Minneapolis Raiders (Vikings would raid villages, hence the name.)

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Love the suggestions.  Just a note, if we go with Louisville as a city I am likely to avoid "Kings" as the nickname as the Louisville Kings are a team in the fantasy football league for which I have designed all the logos and I would rather not reuse my ideas for that team.  I might go with a royal theme, but not the exact same concept.  Here are the Kings in the CFFL, my fantasy league (since 1986).  

 

CAimnuZ.png

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Was it you that did a Condors football team a few years ago ?  It was a black orange and pink color scheme.  

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3 hours ago, mkg74 said:

Was it you that did a Condors football team a few years ago ?  It was a black orange and pink color scheme.  

Way to ruin the surprise.  Yes, I did a Condors concept and I am thinking seriously of bringing that back if Sacramento is one of the chosen cities.  It was an all-black uniform (or white with black pants on the road) with thin piping in neon pink and neon orange.  

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14 hours ago, WideRight said:

Love the suggestions.  Just a note, if we go with Louisville as a city I am likely to avoid "Kings" as the nickname as the Louisville Kings are a team in the fantasy football league for which I have designed all the logos and I would rather not reuse my ideas for that team.  I might go with a royal theme, but not the exact same concept.  Here are the Kings in the CFFL, my fantasy league (since 1986).  

 

 

 

You did that league? I loved those logos and unis. Nice job. 

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Indiana Fusion (energy-related name which ties into a good identity, also the name of the Ford car driven at the Brickyard.  Went with "Indiana" to distinguish from the Colts)

Minnesota Voyageurs, Explorers or Walleye (first two referring to those who settled Minnesota, third referring to the state fish)

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Kentucky Thoroughbreds

Louisville/Kentucky Rivermen

Louisville Legends

 

Indianapolis Speedsters

Indianapolis Drivers

Indianapolis Wheels


Minnesota Northern Lights

Minnesota Voyageurs

Minnesota Polars

Minnesota Loggers

 

Sacramento Surge

Sacramento Gold Miners

Sacramento Grizzlies

Sacramento Stompers (I dunno, something wine country related)

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2008 USFL Season-- Part 1

The 2007-2008 offseason news for the USFL was dominated by two topics, expansion and concussions.  On the former front, recent studies on the impact of concussions and collisions on professional football players (both USFL and NFL) demonstrated significant concerns regarding the potential long-term dangers.  In response to this the USFL owners put into place a structured concussion protocol for potential head injuries during their games, financed initiatives to work with Riddell and Schutt to design helmets with greater protective capacity and, in agreement with the USFLPA, designed a long term healthcare initiative for USFL players, one which would essentially provide ongoing healthcare coverage for any and all football-related health issues for USFL alums.  The swift action of the USFL stood in stark contrast to the NFL, which initially attempted to dismiss the scientific studies on the connection between football and brain injury, but public pressure soon forced the NFL’s hand as well, and by the start of the 2008 NFL season, the league had begun to implement many of the same programs as the USFL, even pairing with the spring league on a “Head’s Up” coaching campaign aimed at youth and school coaching of younger players. 

 

On the expansion front, the USFL owners heard received full bids from the four remaining expansion candidates.  There remained significant debate as to the better path to take between those who felt that an expansion to other NFL markets (Minnesota and Indianapolis) was the more prudent option and those who felt that targeting new untapped markets (Sacramento and Louisville) would provide greater growth potential.  After vigorous debate at the owners meeting, the compromise position was reached that one team from each category would be selected for the 2010 expansion.  

 

At the meetings, held in Los Angeles, each bidding ownership team presented their financials, stadium plans and proposed team identities (which had been coordinated with the league’s marketing and branding offices).   The four finalists, who would await the league’s final vote in Fall of 2018, were:

 

Minnesota Blue Ox:  This team, headed by members of the Cargill-MacMillan family, had put in place a unique stadium contract, one which would allow the franchise to play its March and April games (typically 3-4 per year) in the Metrodome before finishing the season outdoors at the University of Minnesota’s new stadium.  The goal was to provide comfort during the harsh winter months, but then allow Minnesotan’s to experience outdoor pro football for the first time in decades in the warmer months.  The team name, selected from several options in an online competition, draws on the rich folk traditions of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, as symbols of the pioneer spirit of the state.  The bidding group had wanted to create a distinct identity which stayed clear of the Norse symbolism of the NFL’s Vikings but which was tied to Minnesota’s unique identity.   The logo was revealed at the owners meeting to a very positive reception, though there was some initial controversy over whether or not the team’s helmet would look too much like the Vikings’ with a horn design.  The bidding group assured the league that their design would not include a horn-laden helmet.

 

Indianapolis Racers:  The ownership group for this bid, led by several key executives of both the Cook Group and Lilly, as well as Hoosier basketball legends Isaiah Thomas, Rick Fox and Reggie Miller.  The team, set to play at the Hoosier Dome, chose a racing theme and revived the popular nickname of a former minor-league hockey franchise as an homage to the sporting tradition of the state.  The team’s colors are also an homage to Hoosier athletics, pairing Hoosier Red with Boilermaker Black and Irish Green, representing the three BCS universities in the state.  The logo, includes the silhouette of the state, a green “race on” flag and a “victory” checkered flag design within a stylized R.

 

California Condors: The Sacramento bid, headed by computer billionaire David Sun, as an agreement in place with Sacramento State to use Hornet Stadium, and enough capital (both financial and political) come through with the proposed stadium project which would build a new 45,000 seat football/soccer stadium in the region within 6 years.  The team has opted for a state name, despite the presence of two other USFL franchises in the league.  The rationale, that this team represents the state, with millions in population who do not live in the LA or Bay Area, and that they wanted to be accurate in their depiction of the California Condor, a species particular to the state.  The team would wear predominantly black & white, with use of neon orange and neon pink as complementary colors.

 

Louisville Bees:  This franchise, the last to provide its identity, opted to avoid the obvious regional symbols associated with bourbon production and horseracing, opting instead to combine the state insect (honey bee) with a somewhat oblique reference to one of the city’s favorite sons, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who famously floated like a butterfly but stung like a bee.  Team ownership, a group consisting of several prominent businessmen from, Louisville, Indiana, Ohio and as far away as Nashville, is headed by B. Wayne Hughes of Public Storage fame, and has as one of its “faces”, country music star Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry fame.   The team proposes to play at the University of Louisville’s PapaJohn’s Stadium, which seats 42,000.

 

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2008 USFL Season—Part 2

In other news, the 2008 USFL Draft turned out to be one of the most successful in league history, with more than 12 picks signing who had been considered 1st round NFL selections.  The larger USFL, now at 28 teams, each with 4 salary-cap exempt slots on each roster, has developed a tendency towards signing players directly from the NCAA, particularly in each team’s territorial draft, rather than wholescale defections from the NFL, and that was definitely in evidence in 2008.  Among the likely 1st Round NFL draft picks who signed with the USFL were:

 

DE Chris Long (Virginia) by Washington                       DE Vernon Gholston (Ohio State) by Cleveland

RB Jonathon Stewart (Oregon) by Portland                  OT Chris Williams (Vandy) by Memphis

OT Jeff Otah (Pitt) by Pittsburgh                                   RB Felix Jones (Arkansas) by St. Louis

CB Mike Jenkins (USF) by Tampa Bay                         WR Devin Johnson (Michigan State) by Michigan

WR DeShaun Jackson (Cal) by San Jose                    QB Brian Brohm (Louisville) by Atlanta

 

In addition to this rookie class, the USFL did sign a few big name NFL players.  Atlanta, still trying to find a franchise QB to replace the floundering Steve Beurlein, signed Brian Brohm from Louisville, but also spent a second exemption slot on former Falcon QB Chris Redman.  San Antonio reached for a QB, after a poor year for their rotation of Chris Simms & Sean King, signing former Bills QB J.P. Losman.  Chicago was the final QB mover and shaker, as they signed former Oregon star and Detroit Lion helmsman, Joey Harrington. 

 

But the biggest NFL signing would not occur until midseason, leading to one of the biggest homecomings in USFL history.  Former Breaker and league MVP Brett Favre announced his retirement from the Cincinnati Bengals in February of 2008, only to reconsider and resign with his former USFL club in mid-July.  While he did not take the field for the Breakers in 2008, his signing revitalized a franchise that had struggled to attract talent and fans since his departure years ago.

 

Once the season began, three teams quickly established their stories as the most intriguing.  Defending USFL champion San Jose, powered by MVP Aaron Rodgers, RB Marshawn Lynch and with the addition of rookie wideout DeSean Jackson, ripped through the league, setting records for scoring and offensive yardage.  They were barely challenged during the season, with the lone exception being a tough 21-17 win over the surprising Cleveland Invaders in week 8.  San Jose held on to win that game and cruised through the rest of the season to obtain the first ever undefeated season in USFL history. 

 

Cleveland was another amazing story as the Invader defense was overpowering most of the year, allowing only 9.3 points per game as they surprised everyone and took the division title and the #1 seed in the Independence conference.  The Invader offense was unspectacular, but QB Kerry Collins avoided mistakes and Antowain Smith and a stable of backups helped Cleveland shorten games and pull out several low-scoring wins.

 

On the other end of the spectrum were the Baltimore Blitz.  Having made the playoffs in 2007, no one expected the total collapse of the Blitz franchise. But, as losses piled up, so too did injuries and with each week discord in the locker room grew louder.  The Blitz were fast on their way to a winless season, the first in league history, and when they managed to blow a 14-3 4th quarter lead against the St. Louis Lightning in Week 10, losing RB Julio Jones to an MCL tear in the same game, the season was truly lost.   The Blitz finished out with a humiliating 41-3 defeat at the hands of the Panthers and coach Mark Trestman was let go that very evening. 

 

The playoffs proved to be a demonstration of power by both Cleveland and San Jose, with the Invaders holding their opponents to 7 and 3 points each, while San Jose outpaced their opponents, scoring 41 and 44 points in their two playoff games.

 

In the Championship Game, it was a battle of styles, Cleveland with their ball-control, clock-killing offense and smothering defense vs. San Jose with their wide open point-a-minute offense.  The Samurai struck first with a first quarter Rodgers to Drew Bennett 53 yard TD on an ill-timed Invader safety blitz, but the Invaders held both Rodgers and Lynch in check for the rest of the half, helped by a Lynch fumble on a promising 2nd quarter drive.  When Cleveland T Ryan Diem caught a 2 yard TD on a tackle eligible play during the final minute of the half, the Invaders felt confidence that they could pull off the upset.  Cleveland received the 2nd half kickoff and methodically marched down the field, killing 11 minutes before Antowain Smith scored on a goalline dive.  They would add field goal on the next drive, building up a 17-7 lead.   San Jose responded with a couple of field goal drives to close out the 3rd quarter, but they were simply unable to solve the Cleveland defense in the 4th quarter and when a tipped ball fell into the hands of Invader CB Antoine Winfield with 1:33 left to play, the Invaders were able to salt away the win and crush the hopes of the formerly undefeated Samurai to finish 17-0.

 

2008 USFL Final Standings

INDEPENDENCE CONFERENCE

LIBERTY CONFERENCE

EAST

 

*PHI      10-4

*WSH     9-5

BOS        8-6

NJ           5-9

 

CENTRAL

 

*CLE      11-3

*MIC       8-6

PIT          7-7

STL         6-8

CHI         3-11

       

WEST

 

*DEN    10-4

*HOU     9-5

UTAH      6-8

DAL         5-9

SAN        4-10

 

EAST

 

*JAX    9-5       ATL      7-7

CHA     6-8

BAL      0-14

CENTRAL

 

* ORL   10-4

*BIRM    8-6

*MEM     8-6

TBY        5-9

NOR       5-9

 

WEST

 

*SJO    14-0

*LA        8-6

ARZ       6-8

POR      5-9

LV         4-10

 

           

 

2008 USFL Playoffs

Wildcard Round              Philadelphia(3) d. Michigan(6)         Memphis(6) d. Jacksonville(3)

                                        Washington(4) d. Houston(5)          Los Angeles(4) d. Birmingham(5)

 

Division Round               Cleveland(1) d. Washington(4)       San Jose(1) d. Memphis(4)

                                       Philadelphia(3) d. Denver(2)           Los Angeles(4) d. Orlando(2)

 

Semifinal Round            Cleveland(1) d. Philadelphia(3)        San Jose(1) d. Los Angeles(4)

 

2008 USFL Championship             Cleveland   17   San Jose 13

 

2008 USFL Awards

2008 USFL Most Valuable Player:  Aaron Rodgers, QB, San Jose

2008 USFL Coach of the Year: Jim Haslett, Cleveland

2008 USFL Rookie of the Year:  DeShaun Jackson, WR, San Jose

 

2008 Relocation, Expansion & Uniform/Logo Updates

1)      Logos were revealed for all 4 candidates for 2010 expansion franchises.  Minnesota, Indianapolis, Louisville and Sacramento would have to wait until after the 2008 season to find out their fate, but fans started chiming in on the logos and identities of both teams, with pre-decision merchandise sales in all 4 cities exploding past the available supply of t-shirts, hats and banners.

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And here are the 4 logos and color schemes for the 4 2010 Expansion Finalists.  Which would you choose (1 NFL city and 1 non-NFL city)?    Results will be posted prior to the review of the 2009 season. 

 

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Minnesota Blue Ox and Indiana Racers

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