WideRight

USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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I love the new uniform sets and all, but... please, god, go back to the old template.

 

On 1/21/2018 at 11:54 AM, WideRight said:

i would guess that their identity is so baked in by this point that a change like that would make NJ really unhappy.  Could you imagine Chris Christie's reaction?  Somehow he would find a way to close down the turnpike on gamedays.

 

Don't remind me, please.

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I was hoping NY would get the bid. That logo and color scheme is beautiful! I really hope they get in the league in the future. I’m glad my boy Eli got his second ring and Championship MVP! And I was wondering what crazy butt turnover Sanchez would do in this world. Great writing! I can’t wait for next season! 

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19 hours ago, WideRight said:

Something about their QB being Tebow, I suspect. 

WELL THEN LET'S CHANGE THAT.

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Looking around the league, I wonder (and I suppose I would be the one to know) which franchises might be having issues with revenue and attendance.  I would expect teams that simply have not won much might be having issues, which would be bad news for Portland, Arizona, Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  But the other big factor would be stadium contracts.  It might make sense that teams sharing their stadiums with NFL teams might have a better deal, with those in places like Memphis, Portland or San Antonio having more difficulties with upkeep.  But, an argument might be made that some teams sharing stadiums might be getting a raw deal compared to the primary tenant, which could be bad for New Jersey, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and many others. 

 

Just wondering.  If I were the ownership bid groups from Orlando,  Miami or NYC, who would I be hoping to pick off to relocate a franchise?  

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I think they'd have to be eyeing up Portland and San Antonio.

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50 minutes ago, WideRight said:

Looking around the league, I wonder (and I suppose I would be the one to know) which franchises might be having issues with revenue and attendance.  I would expect teams that simply have not won much might be having issues, which would be bad news for Portland, Arizona, Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  But the other big factor would be stadium contracts.  It might make sense that teams sharing their stadiums with NFL teams might have a better deal, with those in places like Memphis, Portland or San Antonio having more difficulties with upkeep.  But, an argument might be made that some teams sharing stadiums might be getting a raw deal compared to the primary tenant, which could be bad for New Jersey, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and many others. 

 

Just wondering.  If I were the ownership bid groups from Orlando,  Miami or NYC, who would I be hoping to pick off to relocate a franchise?  

 

If I was any one of the four bids that lost out (you forgot Kansas City there), I'd keep my eyes and ears open for an opportunity to take a franchise and relocate it. Each team that lost on the expansion bidding have their own strengths and weaknesses...

 

-New York City probably has the best plan in terms of stadium and finances. They came awfully close to being the other expansion team, so in my mind, they're number one with a bullet on the list of locations for teams that would relocate. The only issue here is with Philadelphia and New Jersey. Fans of the Generals may love the idea of an NYC based rival, but I have to think the owners don't. Probably the same with the Stars.

-Miami is technically a brand new market, so having a team there would be great since it's not known how well the Marlins and Panthers are doing in this alternate universe. The only bad thing is that Florida is a hit or miss for the USFL. Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have survived, but Orlando faltered.

-Kansas City is also a new market, so there isn't much to fear in terms of stepping into someone else's territory. But, since it is a new market it might be a challenge. Unlike Miami, the Heartland hasn't really experienced the brand of football the USFL brings.

-Orlando is at the bottom for a reason. They tried once with the Renegades and the Great Recession pretty much ruined them.

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Dallas and St  Louis on the way out, IMO.

 

Dallas: Cowboys country no one could ever hope to compete against that juggernaut, however i really love the Aztecs identity but I favor either say a Guardians or Tropics identities over Aztecs.

 

St Louis: fair weather fans at best, my best guess its more a baseball town tough to compete against.... lost 2 NFL clubs to boot, that should speak huge volumes there alone.

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5 hours ago, WideRight said:

Looking around the league, I wonder (and I suppose I would be the one to know) which franchises might be having issues with revenue and attendance.  I would expect teams that simply have not won much might be having issues, which would be bad news for Portland, Arizona, Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  But the other big factor would be stadium contracts.  It might make sense that teams sharing their stadiums with NFL teams might have a better deal, with those in places like Memphis, Portland or San Antonio having more difficulties with upkeep.  But, an argument might be made that some teams sharing stadiums might be getting a raw deal compared to the primary tenant, which could be bad for New Jersey, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and many others. 

 

Just wondering.  If I were the ownership bid groups from Orlando,  Miami or NYC, who would I be hoping to pick off to relocate a franchise?  

 

St. Louis is number one because they've never been successful and football is 3rd behind baseball and hockey.

 

San Antonio too. Most of the dollars for spring sports will go to the Spurs and if we're assuming the NBA isn't affected by the USFL existing, then the Spurs typical playoff run would cut deep into the potential profits for the Outlaws.

 

Relocation:

 

New York

Kansas City

Miami

Orlando

 

Florida teams are last simply because of how hot and humid it gets during the summer.

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2013 USFL Season

With the arrival of the New England SeaDevils and the Seattle Orca, the USFL again found itself needing to reshuffle its alignment in 2013.  The new 30-team alignment retained the same 6 divisions as the former, but with each now formed by 5 franchises.   New England was a relatively easy fit, with the SeaDevils moving into the 4 team Northeast Division.  Seattle was a different story.  The placement of the Orca into the Pacific Division led to a domino effect, with Arizona moving out of the Pacific into the Southwest Division.  To make room for this, one of the three Texas franchises had to be moved away from its rivals.  Houston, the longest standing of the Texas franchises, drew the short straw and was relocated to the Gulf Coast division, where they were quick to push rivalries with both Memphis and New Orleans.  That left one final shift, as the formerly 4-team Southeast division needed to pick up one of the now-bloated Gulf Coast teams.  The choice was pretty clear as Atlanta and Birmingham had always been rival cities, and so the 2-time defending champs were relocated to the Southeast, which could not have made any of their new division rivals happy. 

 

While there was some griping from fans and front office personnel from most of the realigned franchises, this was soon forgotten when a greater threat arose during the late fall.   After several years of only modest poaching, once again the NFL went on a spending spree, leading to the loss of some of the biggest names in the USFL to the fall league.   The cuts were deep and painful for the USFL and its faithful.  The NFL, having only recently found itself with a new CBA and new TV deals, was both flush with cash and in a mood to regain its title as the preeminent football league.  The USFL simply could not keep up as several of its rising stars jumped leagues.  The casualty list read like an All-Pro Squad for the USFL:

 

  • Utah QB Alex Smith signed with the Denver Broncos.
  • Houston RB Reggie Bush with the Detroit Lions.
  • New Orleans lost both RB Joseph Addai and DB Laron Landry
  • Atlanta superstar WR A.J. Green signed with the New Orleans Saints.
  • Portland lost WR Javon Walker to the NY Jets and RB James Stewart to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Pittsburgh’s cerebral QB Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then took a worse hit when WR Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Steelers.

 

Others were devastated despite not losing exemption players.  St. Louis saw 3 of its 5 starting offensive line leave for the NFL, while Birmingham saw 3 starters on defense head to the fall season. 

 

But no team was as devastated as the Philadelphia Stars.  In one week the stars saw their defensive captain Paul Posluszny sign with the NY Giants and then their All-USFL QB Ben Roethlisberger was announced as the newest Cincinnati Bengal. 

 

It was a bloodbath.  With only weeks to prepare for the 2013 draft and with an expansion draft already weakening many rosters, the USFL scrambled to find talent and resorted to its usual strategy of signing big name rookies and seasoned NFL vets on the downside of their careers.

 

Utah replaced Smith with NFL castoff Brady Quinn, a definite downgrade at the position.  Pittsburgh fared even worse, signing an ineffective Dan Orlovsky as its starter.   In Houston, Reggie Bush was replaced by Maurice Jones-Drew, on the downside of his career.  New Orleans tried to revive its running game with a pair of NFL vagabonds in RBs Cedric Benson and Leon Washington.

 

Unfortunately for those teams that tried to fill in gaps through the USFL Rookie Draft, 2013 proved to be one of the weakest drafts in recent history, particularly at the skill positions.  In the Draft, Philadelphia hoped it had found a new signal caller in West Virginia’s Geno Smith while Houston, which had lost Byron Leftwich to retirement, took a flyer on Syracuse signal caller Ryan Nassib.   Other teams were more successful either because their losses were in positions of greater draft depth, such as the O-line, or because they hit on an undervalued talent who would have immediate success in the USFL.  Three players above all the other rookies stood out in 2013. The first of these was RB LeVeon Bell, who relocated from East Lansing to Detroit as a Panther.  Bell would finish the season 3rd in rushing and would help Michigan win the Great Lakes division.   Second was WR Tavon Austin who helped to revitalize the Cleveland Invader offense while also proving to be a showstopper on special teams. But no rookie shone brighter than former Vol WR Cordarelle Patterson, who connected immediately with Memphis QB Jason Campbell, leading the conference in receiving yards and helping to propel the Showboats to their best record in years.

 

The 2013 season was a season of turmoil as rosters readjusted and teams found themselves in some odd places.  2012 playoff teams from Philly, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Utah saw themselves floundering due to their roster losses. Teams that had been at the margins of the playoffs, such as the Federals, Bulls and Blitz were able to take the next step, while some perennial powers such as the Stallions, Showboats, Panthers, Express and Samurai again showed their mettle.

 

In the playoffs, teams with playoff experience quickly proved they knew how to succeed.  Two time champion Birmingham, despite failing to earn a bye, rolled past Louisville and Washington, while Aaron Rodgers, back to his old form, got San Jose a win in the wildcard round. Memphis’s Campbell to Cordarelle combo continued to rock the league, driving the Showboats past the Generals and the Stallions and into the USFL Championship.  There they would face a true enigma in the Denver Gold.  The Gold, led by up and down QB Vince Young, had come back from a 13 point deficit in the 4th quarter to shock the San Jose Samurai before a surprisingly easy win against the Panthers.  Denver was a team that played solidly in all phases of the game, but seemed to lack the star power of many of the other USFL playoff teams.  But perhaps it was the team concept, without major stars, that helped Denver succeed in a year where star power proved so dangerous to so many teams.

 

The Gold were consistent and relentless in the USFL Championship Game.  Often settling for field goals as their ground game kept the clock running, the Gold led 16-14 at the half and then 19-14 before a Jason Campbell 7 yard scramble for a score put Memphis on top with 11:30 left in the game.  But, in typical Denver style, the Gold ate the clock, chipping away, first down after first down, through the short passing and scrambling of Vince Young, steady ground advances with Doug Martin and a couple of untimely Memphis penalties, including a devastating offsides jump on a crucial 3rd and 3 from the Denver 47 to keep the drive ticking.   Denver found itself on the 7 yard line with 2:44 left to play.  After failing to connect on a quick out route to Ruben Randle, Vince Young found his talented TE Tony Gonzalez in the back of the endzone on a crossing route to put the Gold up for good.   Memphis got the ball back with 2:07 left in the game, but the Denver D held the Showboats, forcing an errant pass on 4th and 8 and taking over the ball on the Memphis 37.  A couple of kneel downs and the game was theirs.  It would be Denver’s first championship, a feat over 30 years in the making.  The next day the Gold were celebrated with a parade through Denver and coach Gunther Cunningham was named USFL Coach of the year.

 

 

2013 USFL Standings

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

WESTERN CONFERENCE

NORTHEAST

 

*WSH  10-4

*NJ       8-6

BLT       7-7

PHI       6-8

NE        2-12

SOUTHEAST

 

*BIR    9-5

*JAX   9-5

ATL     7-6-1

CHA    7-7

TBY    5-9

GULF COAST

 

*MEM    11-3

*LOU      8-6

HOU       7-7

STL        6-7-1

NOR      2-12

 

GREATLAKES

 

*MICH  10-4

*CLE      9-5

*CHI       8-6

MINN      6-8

PITT       5-9

 

SOUTHWEST

 

*DEN   11-3

DAL      8-6

SAN      7-7

ARZ      6-8

UTAH    3-11

 

PACIFIC

 

*LA     10-4

*SJO   10-4

CAL      7-7

POR     4-10

SEA      1-13

           

 

2013 USFL Playoffs

Wildcard Round          Birmingham(3) d. Louisville(6)           Los Angeles(3) d. Chicago(6)

                                    New Jersey(5) d. Jacksonville(4)       San Jose(4) d. Cleveland(5)

 

Divisional Round         Memphis(1) d. New Jersey(5)           Denver(1) d. San Jose(4)

                                    Birmingham(3) d. Washington(2)       Michigan(2) d. Los Angeles(3)

 

Semifinal Round          Memphis(1) d. Birmingham(3)           Denver(1) d. Michigan(2)

 

2013 USFL Championship      Denver 26  Memphis 21

 

2013 USFL Awards

2013 USFL Most Valuable Player:  Jason Campbell, QB, Memphis

2013 USFL Coach of the Year: Gunther Cunningham, Denver

2013 USFL Rookie of the Year: Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Memphis

 

2013 USFL Relocation, Expansion or Logo/Uniform News

There was no significant news in this area for 2013. 

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Any particularly note worthy players drafted/signed by the Sea Devils?

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Ooh, I guess i should say more about the two new teams:

 

New England:  Coached by former Stars assistant Bruce Arians.   Their most noteworthy players are QB Chase Daniel, RB Tashard Choice, WR Jason Avant and rookies such as CB Sio Moore (UConn) and RB Mike Gilislee (Florida).

 

Seattle:  Coached by former Oregon HC Chip Kelly, the Orca are led by former Oregon Duck QB Kellen Clemons, RB Roy Helu, TE Brent Celek and defensive standouts such as Everson Griffen and their top rookie signing, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o. 

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12 hours ago, WideRight said:

Seattle:  Coached by former Oregon HC Chip Kelly, the Orca are led by former Oregon Duck QB Kellen Clemons, RB Roy Helu, TE Brent Celek and defensive standouts such as Everson Griffen and their top rookie signing, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o

 

Strange, but true: The first Seattle Orca season ticket to be purchased was secured by someone named Lennay Kekua. The corresponding seat remained empty throughout the Orca's inaugural season.

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4 minutes ago, Brian in Boston said:

 

Strange, but true: The first Seattle Orca season ticket to be purchased was secured by someone named Lennay Kekua. The corresponding seat remained empty throughout the Orca's inaugural season.

 

Top Kekua

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6 hours ago, Brian in Boston said:

 

Strange, but true: The first Seattle Orca season ticket to be purchased was secured by someone named Lennay Kekua. The corresponding seat remained empty throughout the Orca's inaugural season.

Hey now!

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2014 USFL Season

If 2013 marked the year in which the NFL fired a shot across the bow of the USFL, 2014 saw all out war declared.  The NFL, tired of flagging ratings and inconsistent quality and supported by significant investment through new television contracts and the success of the NFL Network, raided the USFL for second straight season.  USFL franchises, long accustomed to a tense but balanced give and take with their older rival league, suddenly found themselves outspent and outgunned in the battle for talent.  In 2013 they lost several quality players, but nothing prepared them for the onslaught brought on in the Winter of 2013-2014. 

 

Within a 2 month period the USFL saw 4 of its top quarterbacks turn down renewal contracts and jump to the NFL.  It seemed the NFL was strategically weakening the USFL brand by targeting not its young talent on the rise, but its established stars.

 

The first to go was Carson Palmer of the Express.  After an MVP season in 2012, Palmer played out the last season of his contract with the Express, stalling negotiations on a new contract.  By mid-November it seemed clear that his agent had other plans in mind and just before Thanksgiving a press conference in Phoenix revealed that Palmer had been signed by the Arizona Cardinals.

 

Not two days later the league was shaken when two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers left the San Jose Samurai for a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Raiders.  The departure rattled the USFL to its core and soon other dominoes began to fall.

 

Robert Griffin III left San Antonio after only 2 seasons, signing with the Chicago Bears, and was soon followed by the final piece to fall as Eli Manning, the face of the Birmingham Stallions, agreed to a 4 year deal with the Houston Oilers.

 

In short order the NFL had snapped up 4 of the premier quarterbacks of the spring league, and the USFL was left, for a second straight year, scrambling to understand what was happening.

 

As if this were not bad enough, two NFL franchises, with the full backing of the NFL itself, brought legal action against both the USFL and the Dallas Aztecs on charges of collusion and unfair trade practices.  Their claim, that the USFL illegally funded the contract of Dallas’s LB Navarro Bowman, pinched from the San Francisco 49’ers in 2012 and Tackle Michael Roos, signed by Dallas from the Oilers also in 2012.  There seemed to be strong evidence that the league had helped to hide ancillary salary options for the two players in an effort to assist the Astecs to sign the two players within the league’s salary cap, essentially violating both USFL policies on exemption players and the CBA with the USFLPA in an attempt to help the failing Dallas franchise.

 

The lawsuit began a flurry of investigations into other USFL franchises, suspected of hiding payroll through suspect personal service contracts between the league and individual players. While most cases would not go to court until July and August of 2014, the scrutiny cast over the league, along with the exodus of players cast a shadow on the entire season.  The effects of both the loss of players and concerns over legal trouble impacted the 2014 USFL Draft as fewer top name players would agree to USFL contracts prior to the NFL Draft.  San Jose’s attempt to replace Aaron Rodgers with Fresno State QB Dereck Carr failed as Carr waited out the opportunity to be drafted by the NFL, eventually signing with Buffalo.  Likewise, both Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater turned away exemption contracts with San Antonio and Louisville respectively to sign later with the NFL.

 

Of players projected as Top 50 picks by the Gridiron Network, only 10 signed with the USFL, and only 2 of these were top 20 picks, DT Aaron Donald who stayed in Pittsburgh with the Maulers, and WR Kelvin Benjamin, who signed with the Jacksonville Bulls.   While both had solid seasons for their respective teams in what all were calling a brutally underachieving rookie class, the breakout star of the weak class was unheralded LSU running back Alfred Blue, who would lead the New Orleans Breakers in rushing with 1,105 yards and 10 TD’s.

 

The impact of the player moves was evident throughout the season as the loss of Manning, Griffin, Rodgers and Palmer led each team to struggle to regain coherence and quality.  All four franchises ended the year with losing records, shaking up the playoff teams more than in any year in recent memory.  The team most able to take advantage in the shift of power was the Washington Federal squad, which still had its star QB, Drew Brees under contract.  The Federals, behind Brees and a solid O-line, ran through the regular season with only two blemishes.  Denver too, coming off its first championship, kept their mojo flowing, winning 12 games as well.  The fall of the Stallions brought both Charlotte and Atlanta to the top of the Southeast, while the fall of both LA and San Jose left the door wide open for the Grizzlies and Condors. 

 

In the playoffs, top seeds tended to win out, with the only exception being a minor upset in Michigan, where Luke McCown led the Arizona Wranglers to a tight 23-21 victory over the Panthers.  While many expected Memphis and Denver to use their experience to win at their less-experienced semifinal hosts, both Washington and Cleveland proved that they deserved the top seeds in their conferences,  Washington with a whistle to whistle victory and Cleveland with a defining final drive that gave them the late victory over the defending champions.

 

In the USFL Championship, one marred by a week of revelations in court prior to the game, the Federals took to the air early and often, with Drew Brees dominating the Cleveland defense.  By the half it was 28-7 and many fans tuned out for a second half with more of the same.  Late TD’s by Cleveland made the score look a bit more respectable, but anyone who watched the game knew that Washington had dominated and that Drew Brees had more than earned both his season MVP and his Championship Game MVP, a game which saw him finish with 334 yards passing and 4 TD’s. 

 

 

2014 USFL Final Standings

EASTERN CONFERENCE

WESTERN CONFERENCE

NORTHEAST

 

*WSH   12-2

*NJ         9-5

BLT         6-7-1

PHI         5-9

NE          4-10

 

SOUTHEAST

 

*CHA   10-4

*ATL      8-6

TBY       7-7

JAX       6-8

BIR       5-9

GULF COAST

 

*MEM   11-3

*STL       9-5

NOR       7-7

LOU       5-8-1

HOU      5-9

GREAT LAKES

 

*CLE     10-4

*MICH    8-6

CHI        8-6

PIT         6-8

MIN        4-10

SOUTHWEST

 

*DEN   12-2

*ARZ     8-6

UTAH    5-9

SAN       5-9

DAL       4-10

PACIFIC

 

*POR    8-6

*CAL     8-6

SJO       6-8

SEA       5-9

LA          4-10

           

 

 

2014 USFL Playoffs

Wildcard Round                Charlotte(3) d. Atlanta(6)             Portland(3) d. California(6)

                                         St. Louis(4) d. New Jersey(5)      Arizona(5) d. Michigan(4)

 

Division Round                 Washington(1) d. St. Louis(4)      Denver(1) d. Arizona(5)

                                         Memphis(2) d. Charlotte(3)          Cleveland(2) d. Portland(3)

 

Semifinal Round               Washington(1) d. Memphis(2)     Cleveland(2) d. Denver(1)

 

 

2014 USFL Championship             Washington 41  Cleveland 21

 

 

2014 USFL Award Winners

2014 USFL Most Valuable Player:  Drew Brees, QB, Washington

2014 USFL Rookie of the Year;  Alfred Blue, RB, New Orleans

2014 USFL Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio,  Washington

 

 

2014 USFL Relocation, Expansion and Logo/Uniform Updates

For a second straight year the USFL saw no significant changes in this area, however, with their Under Armor contract ending in August of 2014 and with the legal cases and dropping attendance shaking several franchises, 2015 was anticipated to bring with it significant change.

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Is there a chronology of all the different ownership changes in both leagues in the past 30 years?

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15 hours ago, WideRight said:

2014 USFL Season

 

As if this were not bad enough, two NFL franchises, with the full backing of the NFL itself, brought legal action against both the USFL and the Dallas Aztecs on charges of collusion and unfair trade practices.  Their claim, that the USFL illegally funded the contract of Dallas’s LB Navarro Bowman, pinched from the San Francisco 49’ers in 2012 and Tackle Michael Roos, signed by Dallas from the Oilers also in 2012.  There seemed to be strong evidence that the league had helped to hide ancillary salary options for the two players in an effort to assist the Astecs to sign the two players within the league’s salary cap, essentially violating both USFL policies on exemption players and the CBA with the USFLPA in an attempt to help the failing Dallas franchise.

 

For a second straight year the USFL saw no significant changes in this area, however, with their Under Armor contract ending in August of 2014 and with the legal cases and dropping attendance shaking several franchises, 2015 was anticipated to bring with it significant change.


Hmmmmm. Things don't sound good for the Dallas Aztecs. That's distressing news, as the team has - in my opinion - one of the "Top Ten" identities in the entire USFL. I'd hate to see Dallas disappear.

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I think the Great Lakes and "Gulf Coast" divisions should swap conferences. Great Lakes Division to the East (because Pittsburgh) and "Gulf Coast" Division to the West.

 

Also the "Gulf Coast" Division is sort of a misnomer as only two teams (Houston and New Orleans) are near the Gulf of Mexico; therefore, it should be called the Central Division.

 

By the way, can't wait to see what will happen in 2015.

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How many guys made it to Canton playing solely in the USFL?

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oh god the USFL is gonna fold in 2018 isn't it

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