The USFL Generals Are Back. Can They Find An Identity?

Are you ready for some football? This week, you can get your full share.


However, the USFL is back. Thirty-six years after they closed their books in 1986, they are giving it another try. Expansion football always had intrigued me going back to the WFL with the New York/ New Jersey Stars.


FOX spent the last few days severely hyping Saturday evening’s premier and prime-time game between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions. They are certainly looking to make a big splash.


There will be three games on various networks Sunday afternoon with the opening kickoff at noon and the final one at 8 p.m.


From April 16  to June 19, it will be wall-to-wall football for 10 consecutive weekends with a minimum of four games over two days. 


This version promises to be unique with helmet cams, technology inside the football, and 57 cameras as opposed to the NFL’s usual collection of 22. League officials have promised a basic  “mind-blowing” football experience of new bells and whistles added to your TV screen.


Remember the AAF with ex-Jet draft disaster Christian Hackenberg? They tried some new gimmicks as well, but they didn’t work.


All of this year’s games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama. If you want to make the trip, you can get a $10 ticket to see three games on a given day.


But for the locals, who are these New Jersey Generals?


Like most of the players in the league, the Generals are a collection of players who had a cup of coffee in the NFL, and they lack star power.


It is a far cry from the 1980’s version that featured Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, Brian Sipe, Maurice Carthon and Jim LeClair, who were all college and NFL household names at the time.


Longtime Jets’ figure Walt Michaels served as head coach for two of their three years of existence. Then owner Donald Trump offered Don Shula a $5 millions deal to coach the team, but Trump wouldn’t capitulate on an apartment with the package. He turned to Penn State legend Joe Paterno, who also turned him down.


Steve Young, Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Joe Cribbs were some of the other main headliners back in the days of the USFL in the 1980s. The players were easily recognizable to the average and diehard football fan.


From a New Jersey standpoint, wouldn’t it be easier to have the Generals play their games at MetLife? 


The short-lived XFL Guardians closed the upper deck for their games, and there were enough curious fans who ventured to see the product.


I understand the new league wanting to tread lightly in hopes of a full dive into it next year, but this new league definitely had an identity crisis. Will New York metropolitan fans remember Luis Perez, Dravon Askew-Henry and Trey Williams from the XFL team and have them become instant fans favorites? Don’t bet on it.


Likey a good share of New York fans will tune into Fox Saturday night out of curiosity. How long they stay with the game will be anyone’s guess. 


The league can be a good option for the football junkie. It has major TV contracts in its pocket and appears to have some sound financial backing.


 Over the next 10 weeks, Alabama residents will have a football heaven.


But if the Generals are to survive beyond this year, New York fans will have to see their product be fully immersed in front of them, and a high-profile star will need to emerge.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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