WideRight

USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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Oakland, working with Champion, retains a more conservative look but brings back more of their "French's Mustard" yellow.  Still, on a sunny summer day in NoCal, this uni is right at home. 

 

 

1995 Invaders.png

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Very solid updates for Oakland and Michigan.....My first guess for the first team in teal were the Invaders but i think i like the lighter blue( and yellow for that matter) much better. 

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1 hour ago, WideRight said:

Oakland, working with Champion, retains a more conservative look but brings back more of their "French's Mustard" yellow.  Still, on a sunny summer day in NoCal, this uni is right at home. 

 

 

1995 Invaders.png

 

No Yellow Jersey? It would do a better job distinguishing the Vaders from the Dolts. Also, Sun? In Nor Cal Summer? You must be made familiar with how weather works in this part of the country. 

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Actually, there's a lot of sun in Oakland and the East Bay because most of the fog hangs around San Francisco.

Speaking of, who did San Jose bribe to get a franchise? Having two USFL franchises that close makes no economic sense.

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On 11/7/2017 at 10:56 PM, ChicagoOakland said:

Actually, there's a lot of sun in Oakland and the East Bay because most of the fog hangs around San Francisco.

Speaking of, who did San Jose bribe to get a franchise? Having two USFL franchises that close makes no economic sense.

When you have an ownership group with deep pockets, a stadium ready to go (SJState) and an area considered high growth, high income, with the Dot-com boom happening, it makes San Jose look like a really good option.  Now, what does that mean for an Oakland team that is having no luck at all getting the city to pony up for stadium improvements (since the Raiders are not coming back)?  Well, that may not be a good sign for the Invaders.

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@WideRight, are you currently accepting name suggestions for the incoming expansion teams or do you already have 'em picked out?

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There will actually be a name the team contest for some expansion teams.  But I am always open to ideas.  Post your idea. 

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Atlanta Olympians (homage to the '96 Olympics-ATL still hosts them in this universe, right?)

Boston Brawlers (Could either go with the Irish-themed look or the bareknuckle boxer one for this)

Charlotte Revolution (Charlotte played a MAJOR role in the American Revolution-the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed here over a year before the one in Philly)

Silicon Valley Wizards (an homage to the high-tech boom of the 90's-which is the reason they have a team)

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I only have two ideas:

 

-Charlotte Royals. Charlotte is known as the Queen City and a royalty-themed team might be a cool idea.

 

-California Lasers. Laser printing, which was developed in Silicon Valley, was starting to become common around this time. Plus, it has "xtreme" potential.

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Yo I love alternate football history!

 

For Charlotte: Checkers, Kings

 

For Boston: Brewers, Minutemen, All-Americans

 

 

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-Atlanta Flames (they seem pretty obsessed with that time they were burnt to the ground)

-Boston Rebels (Revolutionary War)

-Charlotte Monarchs (Queen City)

-San Jose Cyborgs (tech stuff, man)

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1996 USFL Season – Part 1

The 1996 USFL season turned out to be one of the most tumultuous in league history as several fires which had been contained to the back burner erupted at once.  At extended League Meetings in early September, league owners worked out new television contracts with ESPN, ABC and FOX.  While the contracts are in some ways lucrative for the league, one of the most significant elements of the new deals is that the USFL, stating concern over the number of injuries and poor attendance in March in many cities, opts to reduce the season from 18 regular season games to 14 weeks.  This change does not go over well with players, who see this as a cost-savings strategy, one which removes 4 paychecks from every player’s salary. 

 

The league and the union go back and forth, through  mediation, arbitration and finally threats of court action, but the final straw dropped when several owners started talking about a lockout.  This led immediately to the USFLPA calling a strike in early January.  What at first seemed like a publicity stunt quickly turned into a protracted dispute and labor stoppage.  The USFL was forced to shutter its doors for weeks 1-2 of the season before an agreement was finally reached which would allow the season to begin.  Teams quickly scrambled to organize their teams and hold camps.  Weeks 4-5 were sacrificed to allow for teams to hold camps and week 6 became a preseason game.  The final result was that the USFL would play only 12 games in 1996 before shifting to a full-time 14 week schedule beginning in April of 1997.

 

The strike proved beneficial for the players as they were able to negotiate that all players under contract would be paid the same for the 14 week schedule as they were contracted to earn when they signed the contract under the premise of an 18 week schedule.  For many players this was a significant game-check increase, while for those not yet under contract, negotiations focused on not seeing a significant dip in pay.  The league also agreed to a scaled salary system which would give players in their 4th year an elevated pay minimum, essentially creating a higher pay structure for  veteran players.  How this would work out for older players was in dispute, as some feared many teams would purge their rosters, but over the next few years this pattern simply did not emerge as the established players were too vital to ticket sales and marketing for teams to release all except the most fringe roster spots.

 

In early May, after the labor dispute was settled, the business of expansion started kicking into gear.  Both the Charlotte and Boston franchises which were to begin play in April of 1997 held name the team contests as part of their regional promotions.

 

Boston gave fans the option of 4 nautical themes, steering away from the Colonial theme tied to the rival NFL Patriots:  Boston Whalers, Boston Beacons, Boston Mariners and Boston Schooners.

 

The Charlotte franchise opted to use the city name again to differentiate itself from its new NFL citymate.  Fans were able to vote on these four regional options:  Charlotte Wheels, Charlotte Copperheads, Charlotte Skyhawks and Charlotte Hounds.

 

Elsewhere in the league the question of relocation, something the league had fought hard to avoid after the Chicago-to-Baltimore shift, had begun to reappear once more.  Birmingham, Memphis and Columbus were not finding any success working with local communities or universities on desired stadium upgrades, while in Oakland the tensions surrounding the dual use of Oakland-Alameda Stadium by the Invaders and the A’s MLB club were boiling over, leading many to worry about the future of the Invaders in the Bay Area, especially as the newly approved San Jose franchise was set to begin play only 2 years later.  

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1996 USFL Season – Part 2

In player news, the strike made it nearly impossible for USFL teams to negotiate with NFL veterans, and the 1996 transfers between leagues was minimal and somewhat lopsided, as NFL squads pulled away at the depth of several USFL squads, signing undervalued players rather than the exemption/franchise players.

 

The 1996 USFL Draft proved a little more successful for many league franchises, as several high draft picks made their way onto the field for USFL squads once the strike ended.  These included the following future starters:

  •  Michigan:  Tim Biakabatuka, RB, Michigan (Territorial Draft)
  • New Orleans:  Eric Moulds, WR, Mississippi State  (Territorial Draft)
  • Houston:  Tony Brackens, DE, Texas (Territorial Draft)
  • Portland: Lawyer Malloy, S, Washington (Territorial Draft)
  • Jacksonville: Aaron Beasley, CB, West Virginia
  • New Jersey: Roman Oben, G, Louisville
  • Philadelphia: Ted Bruschi, LB, Arizona (Trade from Wranglers)
  • Los Angeles:  Terrell Owens, WR, Chattanooga
  • Memphis: Randall Godfrey, LB, Georgia (Trade from Jacksonville)

 

On the field the strike seemed to have disrupted some teams and some players significantly.  The Grizzlies and Generals never seemed to get in sync, and Memphis’s entire season was marred by underperformance and sloppy play.  Some teams, particularly those with a strong combination of veteran leadership and solid coaching performed as well as always.  This included strong seasons from the Stars, Bandits, Express and Breakers, all frequent playoff participants.  Fans in both St. Louis and Denver were overjoyed when their new coaches were able to inspire the teams and move them from also-rans into playoff squads.  Ray Rhodes, in particulary, took a rather lackluster Denver roster and turned them into a tough defensive unit and an opportunistic offense. 

 

The roughest season however seemed to belong to the Houston Gamblers.  After 12 seasons in the USFL, Jim Kelly was simply not up to the beating he took due to a pourous O-line.  Even Thurman Thomas’s league leading 1,147 yards rushing could not help protect Kelly, who was knocked out of 3 different games.  After a tough season, Kelly admitted that his participation in the season had been in doubt after the Gamblers’ championship the year before.  In September he announced his retirement, leaving the league with nearly all the major passing records in hand.  The Gamblers would now have to lean on the untested Gus Frerotte, who had been holding a clipboard since arriving in Houston as a rookie in ’94.

 

In the playoffs quality won out, despite an early upset from the Baltimore Blitz.  The top seeds did well and the USFL Championship came down to the #1 seed Breakers vs. the #2 seed Bandits. Tampa was game, and at one point in the third quarter led the Breakers 30-24, but Brett Favre, and his new target, rookie Eric Moulds, were too much for Tampa’s defense as the 4th quarter saw the Breakers score on two successive drives to flip the game to a 38-30 lead.  The final score would be 38-33.

 

 

1996 Final Standings

 

NORTHEAST

 

*PHL        8-4

*BALT      7-5

NJG         4-8

WSH        3-9

SOUTHEAST

 

*TBY          9-3

*BIRM        8-4

JAX            3-9

MEM          3-9

 

CENTRAL

 

*STL         9-3

*MICH       8-4

COL          5-7

CHI           3-9

SOUTHWEST

 

* NOR      10-2

* DEN         7-5

HOU           4-8

SAN            4-8

 

WEST

 

*LA         8-4

*OAK      7-5

ARZ        5-7

POR        4-8

 

 

1996 Playoffs

                Wildcard Round         Baltimore(10) d. Michigan(7)             Oakland(8) d. Denver (9)

 

                Divisional Round       New Orleans(1) d. Baltimore(10)      Tampa Bay(2) d. Oakland(8)

                                                  Birmingham(6) d. St. Louis(3)           Los Angeles(4) d. Philadelphia(5)

 

                Semifinals                 New Orleans(1) d. Birmingham(6)    Tampa Bay(2) d. Los Angeles(4)

 

1996 USFL Championship       New Orleans  38   Tampa Bay  33

 

1996 USFL Award Winners

League MVP: Brett Favre, QB, New Orleans

Coach of the Year: Ray Rhodes, Denver

Rookie of the Year:  Ted Bruschi, LB, Philadelphia

 

1996 Relocation, Expansion or Uniform/Logo Redesign

1)      Name the team contests active in Charlotte and Boston.

 

2)      Houston Gamblers: A minor uniform redesign, removing grey from the palette and introducing stripeless black pants to the away uniform.

 

3)      Arizona Wranglers: Another uniform redesign, bringing in a few features from their original 1983 design, but keeping the popular flame design on the copper pants.

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I like the Mariners or the Schooners, at this point in time the Hartford Whalers are in their final days in Hartford. 

Charlotte I'd go with either the Hounds or the Skyhawks

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I'm going Beacons and Skyhawks.

 

Also...yup, looks like that Breakers dynasty started right on time.

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