|Walt Michaels (coach of NJ Generals), Doug Flutie, and the Donald|
The USFL managed to attract some pretty serious talent, including Heisman Trophy winners Hershel Walker, Doug Flutie, and Mike Rozier. Former Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly played in the league. So did Brian Sipe, Reggie White (the "minister of defense"), and Steve Young. George Allen (of Redskins fame) and Marv Levy coached in the league.
In 1983, Donald Trump bought the New Jersey Generals, one of the USFL's flagship franchises. And everything went downhill from there.
Brent Johnson tells the whole Trump-USFL saga at NJ.com. Here is a taste of his article:
But Trump saw playing football in the spring as "a wasteland." Experts said he came into the USFL with the idea to move the league to the fall and challenge the NFL directly.
"If God wanted football in the spring, he wouldn't have created baseball," Trump said at the time.
The league voted to make the move in 1986. But there was a problem: The NFL was on all three TV networks.
So, the league — with Trump supplying the lawyers — filed an antitrust and monopoly lawsuit against NFL seeking $1.69 billion. Critics said Trump's hope was that the USFL would become as powerful as the NFL, or that it would force a merger — leading the
Generals to be absorbed into the NFL.
In the end, the jury ruled that the NFL did have a monopoly and that the USFL was injured. But it also felt the USFL contributed to its own demise with too much spending. The jury awarded the USFL $3 in damages.
The league folded and never played a game in the fall.