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Order the book, The United States Football League, 1982–1986.
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Years of existence: 1983-1985
Owner: Myles Tanenbaum
Stadium: Veterans Stadium (72,204) 1983-84, Byrd Stadium (45,000) 1985
Colors: Crimson, old gold and white
Overall Regular Season Record: 41-12-1 (.769)
Overall Playoff Record: 7-1
Yearly Standings and Average Attendances1983: 15-3 (18,650) Philadelphia
1984: 16-2 (28,668) Philadelphia
1985: 10-7-1 (14, 275) Baltimore
The USFL's dominant team, the Stars missed out on a clean sweep of league championships by only a two-point loss to the Michigan Panthers in the 1983 title game. By all accounts, the Stars had one of the best operations in the league. Myles Tanenbaum stuck with the league longer than any of the other original owners. General Manager Carl Peterson made sure that little talent escaped the notice of his Stars. Coach Jim Mora guided the Stars to wins in more than three-fourths of their games and seven out of eight postseason tilts.
University of North Carolina runningback Kelvin Bryant was the focus of the offense. He gained an incredible 4,055 yards rushing in three seasons. At quarterback, Chuck Fusina wasn't spectacular but was always solid and great when he had to be. One of the league's top offensive lines, anchored by Bart Oates, allowed Fusina the time to get the ball downfield to receivers like Willie Collier and Scott Fitzkee. When the Stars couldn't put the ball in the endzone, David Trout was a very accurate kicker and Sean Landeta was one of the circuit's best punters.
But the heart and soul of the Stars was their Doghouse Defense. Led by (Slammin') Sam Mills, who would later earn several Pro Bowl berths in the NFL, the defense made sure the Stars were always in the game. Defensive back Mike Lush and defensive end John Walker also shone on the defensive side of the ball.
The fans in Philadelphia were very wary of the Stars in their inaugural season. The Stars averaged under 20,000 fans per game in their inaugural year, but after making it to the championship game, attendance increased by more than 10,000 per contest the following season. The Stars were even more successful on the field, going 16-2 and dispatching the Arizona Wranglers in the championship, 23-3. Several thousand Philadelphia fans gathered for a parade in the team's honor once they got back to the City of Brotherly Love.
The announced move to the fall, however, immediately destroyed what it had taken two years to build, and Tanenbaum was forced to relocate his team to Baltimore. With Memorial Stadium unavailable until 1986, he had to settle for Byrd Stadium on the campus of the University of Maryland. The team spent the 1985 season practicing in Philadelphia, and playing in (or near) Baltimore. Some of the smallest crowds in the team's three-year history saw the team rebound from a slow start to beat the rebuilt Oakland Invaders, 28-24, in the USFL's last game. The Stars dreams of playing in Memorial Stadium were dashed after the league called off the 1986 season.Their Finest Hour: With so many wins this one is tough to choose, but the award has to go to Philadelphia's come-from-behind playoff win over the Chicago Blitz in 1983. The Stars trailed 38-17 with 12 minutes left in the game thanks largely to seven Philadelphia turnovers. The hard-hitting Chicago defense had scored following six of the seven turnovers and had forced Chuck Fusina into four interceptions. Suddenly, it all turned around for Fusina and the Stars. Philadelphia's quarterback caught fire, tossing three TD passes (to Fitzkee, Jeff Rodenberger and Tom Donovan) down the stretch to knot the score. In overtime, Kelvin Bryant leapt over the goalline from the one to cap the Stars startling 44-38 win and send Philadelphia to the first USFL championship game.
1983 Philadelphia Stars Roster|
1984 Philadelphia Stars Roster
1985 Baltimore Stars Roster
1983 Philadelphia Stars Statistics |
1984 Philadelphia Stars Statistics
1985 Baltimore Stars Statistics