The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, March 06, 2006
Ode to the USFL
On January 23, 1983, a young boy's dreams were dashed.
Eight days earlier, on his tenth birthday, the New York Jets had stunned the Oakland Raiders. Led by two late 4th quarter Lance Mehl interceptions, the Jets' 17-14 victory gave them a berth in the AFC Championship game against the Miami Dolphins.
But on a soaked and muddy field, the Jets lost to the Dolphins. They would not be playing in Super Bowl XVII against the Washington Redskins.
The boy knew that his talented Jets team would soon make it to the Super Bowl. But what would he do until the NFL season came back in September?
He suffered a terrible case of the flu just when his parents visited Israel for two weeks, and missed two weeks of school. And during those two weeks, he learned that football would be back much sooner than he had known.
A new league called the USFL was starting up, and the local team had made a splash, signing Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. The New Jersey Generals could never be the Jets, but for 18 weeks, they filled the void left by the Jets' bitter defeat. Even Giants fans could join in rooting for the new football team in town.
The Generals first played 23 years ago today, on March 6, 1983. They lost to the Los Angeles Express.
Aside from Walker, the 1983 Generals weren't very good. But the next year, they were acquired by Donald Trump, hired ex-Jets coach Walt Michaels, and signed Brian Sipe to play quarterback. Michaels, Sipe and Walker led the '84 Generals to a 14-4 record and a trip to the playoffs.
The next season was fun too, when the 1985 Generals signed another Heisman Trophy winner - Doug Flutie - and finished 11-7.
But the 1986 season never came. There was a lawsuit that had to be decided first.
One day in the glorious summer of '86, when the Mets were better than any other team in the world, the lawsuit was decided. There were all sorts of legal jargon that the now 13 year old boy would one day understand. But all he cared about then was that they said on the radio and in the newspapers that the USFL would be gone forever and never come back.
For too short a time, we lived in a world in which real football was played in March, April, May and June. Sundays were better then, and the wait for the Jets to come back and finally make it to the Super Bowl didn't seem quite so long.