HOF Artifact of the Week
This is a uniform patch that would have been worn by players who played in the 1983 USFL Championship Game which was the first championship game in the USFL’s short history.
The patch that belonged to a former USFL league executive. The USFL or United States Football League was a rival league to the NFL from 1983-1985. The league started as a spring league to meet the demand of football fans during the traditional offseason.
The original intent was not to compete with the NFL. Most of the USFL rosters in its inaugural season consisted of players who were released by NFL teams but the league did make headlines when the New Jersey Generals of the USFL signed Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
The Michigan Panthers won the inaugural 1983 USFL Championship Game in a 24-22 victory over the Philadelphia Stars. The Panthers were led by future NFL Coach Jim Mora and future NFL players Bobby Hebert and Anthony Carter.
In the league’s second season the USFL began to compete directly with the NFL for college and veteran NFL players. Some of the NFL stars who signed with the USFL included Joe Cribbs, Dan Ross, Doug Williams, and Brian Sipe.
In 1985 the USFL announced it would play one more season in the spring and then switch to a fall schedule in 1986. It also announced that it would sue the NFL for $500 million on anti-trust grounds. Throughout the 1985 season attendance and television ratings for the USFL declined and league officials started pinning their financial hopes on their lawsuit against the NFL.
The USFL argued that the NFL was blocking their efforts to get a contract to broadcast their games in the fall on one of the three major television networks (ABC, NBC and CBS). The jury found that the NFL did have a monopoly of power in pro football but the USFL’s real problem was its own mismanagement.
Without a major jury award, the USFL suspended operations and appealed but in 1988 an appellate court affirmed the ruling and the USFL folded.
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