WideRight

USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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Pretty good on both teams.

 

*keeping my fingers crossed for jerseys with logos on the chest later on*

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Glad your going for original stuff and not coasting on Arena/WLAF teams

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38 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

There is something fundamentally depressing about Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas ending up on separate teams.

As a lifelong Bills fan, I couldn't either.  It pains me to think that the Bills of the 90's in this scenario probably stink, because Kelly and Thomas are winning championships in Houston with the USFL and Marv Levy is still coaching the Blitz.  But there is no way Kelly would have gone to the Bills if the USFL were still around, so I just had to bring Thomas to Houston.  I may, at some point give some info on what is happening in the NFL, but for now that is more than I can crank out as I try to focus on the USFL development.

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I hope this is the universe where Marcus DuPree actually breaks out and becomes a superstar.

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3 hours ago, ChicagoOakland said:

I hope this is the universe where Marcus DuPree actually breaks out and becomes a superstar.

After watching the sad 30-for-30 I am all for DuPree having a strong career.  I can tell you that he is a stud in the USFL from 1985 at least through 1990.  Not sure how long he lasts, as we will start to see some original USFL stars begin to retire, especially RB's once they hit 30 and the wall that always seems to hit.  Remember, 18 games a year as well, that wears on you.

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1991 USFL Season

 

After their second wave of expansion in 1990, the league was ready for a relatively uneventful offseason after the Generals’ Championship Game victory, but that did not  mean that there were not changes on the horizon for the league.  Two new partnerships paved the way for a decade of growth for the league.  The first was the new TV deal, arranged in a complex series of negotiations, which would allow the fledgling FOX Network to acquire the rights for a Sunday Night Game of the Week.  ABC retained its hold on Saturday and Sunday afternoon games and ESPN expanded its rights to include a Saturday Night game as well as their Monday Night featured game each week.  With 20 teams and only 10 games per week, that left ABC with a smaller share of the league, and the USFL with a reduced income from the ABC deal, a loss more than offset by ESPN and FOX’ new contracts.

 

The second major partnership was one started two years earlier, as in mid-August the Los Angeles Express and the Los Angeles Raiders revealed a three way financing deal with the city of Carson to build a new football-specific stadium.  The cost would be shared 30-30-40 between the two teams and the local municipality.  The deal avoided the loss of the Raiders, who had built a huge fanbase in LA, but who were still being wooed by Oakland and pressured by the NFL to return to northern California.  For the Express the new stadium deal meant that  they would, at last, be able to leave the cavernous space of the Coliseum, which even looked empty when the franchise was successful and had attendance well within the USFL average.   The new stadium, which would eventually sell its naming rights to PG&E, would be ready in time for the 1993 USFL season.

 

The league, having reached TV viewership within 20% of most Sunday NFL games and in many markets had attendance healthily between 25,000-30,000 despite often cold or rainy conditions in the early parts of the season, was looking pretty solid. However, as with all things, time began to have an effect on the league. 1991 saw the first wave of big-name USFL founding stars announcing their retirement from football.  Many of the older NFL vets who had joined the league in the mid-80’s were ready to step away from the game, including Jacksonville’s Brian Sipe, Philadelphia’s Chuck Fusina, Birmingham’s Joe Cribbs and New Jersey’s Maurice Carthon.  Baltimore, too, lost a big star when QB Neil Lomax announced that his ailing hip was forcing him to leave the game.

 

The other significant trend in the league was that teams which were either on a downward trajectory or who had been unable to crack the playoffs in recent years started opening the wallets and making more dramatic trades in order to improve their lot.

 

Philadelphia was aggressive in dealing with their aging offense, signing Seahawk QB Dave Krieg and Cleveland RB Kevin Mack away from the NFL.  Oakland also decided it had had enough of middle of the pack finishes, trading away their oft-criticized QB Mark Malone to Baltimore and signing recent Steeler castoff Steve Bono to lead the offense.  They added firepower for Bono as well, signing one of Dan Marino’s favorite targets, Mark Duper, away from the Dolphins. 

 

The Denver Gold also decided to fix their unsettled QB situation, but they took a different route.  Signing Colorado’s jitterbug RB Eric Bienemy, the first pick in their territorial draft, and immediately trading him to the Portland Grizzlies, for former Oregon QB Bill Musgrave and LB Ricky Andrews.  Paired with Dalton Hilliard, the Gold opted to move to a balanced offensive attack in hopes of returning to the playoffs.

 

While Bienemy played well in Portland, it was former Auburn RB and new Memphis Showboat, James Joseph who took the Rookie of the Year honors, despite the struggles of the team to amass a winning record.  Joseph barely beat out the new QB of the New Orleans Breakers.  After years of “Old Man” Johnnie Walton and his replacement “Older Man” Steve DeBerg, the Breakers broke their own frugal banking ways and signed a young gunslinger from Southern Mississippi, Brett Favre.   The idea had been for Favre to be an understudy for DeBerg in 1991, but with 5 games left in the season DeBerg went down with a season-ending shoulder injury and the young turk got a chance to play.  He went 4-1 in his 5 games, and despite throwing 7 interceptions in those games, showed the kind of spark and energy which the Breakers’ offense had been lacking, having always been over-dependent on the legs of Marcus DuPree to generate yards and points.  Favre was erratic, but he was also exciting to watch.  

 

The season provided a pretty familiar script, with strong years from established stars like Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker and Doug Williams.  Oakland and Denver’s offensive changes proved fruitful, while Arizona found it difficult to keep up with QB Steve Beurlein playing erratically in defense of the West Division Title.  Chicago, led by Jeff George was the surprise playoff team, but the inexperienced squad was quickly dispatched. The Championship saw the balanced Michigan Panthers facing off against the All-O, No-D Houston Gamblers, and balance won the day as the Panthers were able to use the running of Marion Butts to keep the Gambler’s dangerous offense off the field, racking up a 36:00-14:00 time of possession advantage. This, paired with a bizarre 7 minutes of action at the start of the second half when Houston was forced to play without Thurman Thomas due to the RB’s inexplicable inability to find his helmet, sealed the win for the Gamblers.

 

1991 Final Standings

 

NORTHEAST

 

*NJG          12-6

PHIL             9-9

WSH            8-10

BALT            4-14

 

SOUTHEAST

 

*BIRM       10-8

TBY            10-8

JAX              9-9

MEM          6-12

CENTRAL

 

*MICH      13-5

*CHI          10-8

COL             8-10

STL              6-12

 

SOUTHWEST

 

*HOU        12-6

* DEN        10-8

SAN              9-9

NOR             7-11

WEST

 

* LA         12-6

*OAK       11-7

POR          8-10

ARI            6-12

 

 

1991 Playoffs

Michigan d. Denver                         Houston d. Chicago

Los Angeles d. Oakland                 New Jersey d. Birmingham

 

Michigan d. New Jersey                 Houston d. Los Angeles

 

1991 Championship    Michigan  26    Houston  21

 

1991 Awards

USFL MVP: Herschel Walker, RB, New Jersey

USFL Coach of the Year:  Mike Holmgren, Michigan

USFL Rookie of the Year: James Joseph, RB, Memphis

 

Team Relocation Expansion or Logo/Uniform Redesign:

With no new franchises in 1991 the only significant news was a modest redesign for the Birmingham Stallions. Retaining their white-on-white away uniforms, the Stallions added a bit more piping to their uniforms while simplifying the sleeve design of the jersey to make room for the “dancing stallion” logo.

 

 

1991 Stallions.png

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Is Trump gonna sell the Generals at some point? Normally I root for the New Jersey team, but...

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12 minutes ago, Jimmy Lethal said:

Is Trump gonna sell the Generals at some point? Normally I root for the New Jersey team, but...

 

I think he already sold it and was working to get a 3rd NFL team in New York when the beefed up anti-trust verdict hit.

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Brett Favre and Marcus DuPree in the same offense!!

A live look at Breakers fans in '91:
CbNVg.gif

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Breakers fans certainly had high hopes for the future after watching Favre play in 1991 (5 games), so what would 1992 bring?

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While we're on the topic of the Breakers, how are they doing in attendance? Gotta imagine them outdrawing the Saints during those years when they were still pretty much the Aints.

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1 hour ago, Red Comet said:

 

I think he already sold it and was working to get a 3rd NFL team in New York when the beefed up anti-trust verdict hit.

 

Oh. Well, in that case, go Gens.

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The Stars and the Stallions are sporting nearly the same identical Gold now...;)

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9 hours ago, mkg74 said:

The Stars and the Stallions are sporting nearly the same identical Gold now...;)

Yeah, that is not what I intended.  I will revisit Birmingham and go with a more muted, silvery-gold metallic version of the gold color.  They should not look the same. 

 

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12 hours ago, neo_prankster said:

While we're on the topic of the Breakers, how are they doing in attendance? Gotta imagine them outdrawing the Saints during those years when they were still pretty much the Aints.

I expect they are doing pretty well, though they too have yet to have a playoff appearance.  That may change if Brett Favre lives up to his NFL status in the USFL. 

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4 hours ago, WideRight said:

Yeah, that is not what I intended.  I will revisit Birmingham and go with a more muted, silvery-gold metallic version of the gold color.  They should not look the same. 

 

I hate to be THAT guy n all...I think they will look better too, cant wait to see what you come up with!

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So here is the modified Stallions package, with the new gold.  Figured I would get this done before I started working on 1992. 

 

 

1991 Stallions.png

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