Tuesday, June 23, 2009

205 Drop: Top 14 reasons to support the new USFL

Today's drop is ridiculous, and yet not so. The Five Tool Ninja sent me a link for a Wikipedia page that talked about the return of the USFL in 2010, and I was off to the races with actual enthusiasm, despite the fact that the odds against any second, non-NFL league working, especially in this economy, is trivial at best. And yet, I am prepared to geek hard, long and often for this thing: I want season tickets, would happily run a particularly absurd fantasy league, and might even start a second blog devoted entirely to USFL coverage. Hell, I'd think hard about employment there, despite loving my current gig. (Make me an offer, USFL Overlords!) That's just how much I want my spring football, and if it's not the NFL, with all of the cancerous growths and nonsense that you have to put up with in the NFL, so much the better.

Want to see my bona fides?

One of my happier purchases in the past year was a throwback (prescient?) USFL hoodie for my Philadelphia Stars. I can still rattle off a half dozen or more of their players and personnel (Sam Mills, Chuck Fusina, Irv Eatman, Kelvin Bryant, Sean Landeta, Scott Fitzkee, Jim Mora, Carl Peterson) without a moment of research.

I've been to one pro football playoff game in person in my life. It was the Stars, coming from 21 points down at home with eight minutes to play against George Allen and Vince Evans and the Chicago Blitz, and winning in overtime. Still the best game I've ever seen. I've been to one championship parade in my life, and it was for the Stars, the year after the Blitz comeback. (I'm not much of a parade guy.) I took the day off from school and went downtown to cheer with the 15K other Stars fans, as most of the rest of the people from the area looked on, mostly with confusion.

You see, unlike the NFL, which reared me in nothing but pain, misery, Norman Braman and Dallas, Washington and New York championships in the '70s and '80s, the Stars actually freaking won. Regularly, in fact; they were something of the 49ers of the league, and also kicked Donald Trump's ass (and his New Jersey Generals, with Doug Flutie and Herschel Walker) as a habit. I also was blissfully unaware of sports talk radio, didn't have to endure pre-game and post-game inanities from braying jackass television, and didn't even have a fantasy league to mitigate my interest in my hometown team. Pound for pound, it's the most rewarding sports fan experience I've ever had, and second place is not close.

Best of all, the USFL was *mine*. It wasn't polluted by decades of failed teams, the attention of non-fanatics, or even the attention of the Shooter Brother, who, truth be told, made my first exposure to pro football somewhat harrowing from his anger. (He was also seven years, six inches and untold amounts of athletic prowess ahead of me, so watching games with him wasn't always a comfortable experience when the freaking team was winning, either.) The two great team loves in my formative years were the Stars and the Sixers; they both won championships. (The Phillies did too, but on some level, I've never gotten over Gary Maddux losing the ball in the sun against the Dodgers.)

Let's go further. Despite not being much of a jersey snob, I believe that the Michigan Panthers jersey and helmet (Bobby Hebert to Anthony Carter, deadly) is the coolest design for a football jersey that's been unleashed in the last 30 years. I still regret not seeing more of the Houston Gamblers with Mouse Davis and Jim Kelly, to see the dawn of the run and shoot. The rookie professional season of Reggie White with the Memphis Showboats, when he was probably the fastest man to ever play defensive end, is also necessary viewing. The Washington franchise stank on ice. The Boston franchise had to move for lack of support. The Oakland franchise logo looked like gay Nordic porn. The Denver Gold logo looked like a screwed-up asterisk; your "Boom Goes The Dynamite" catch phrase there wouldn't even be ironic. Steve Spurrier was in this league in Tampa and failed miserably. Had the Stars not moved to Baltimore for their third and final season from a stadium problem, my memories of this thing would have been almost entirely positive.

And so on, and so on. My nostalgia for this thing knows no limits. It was honest-to-God good pro football, without dumb XFL overtones, and without so many things that we endure, rather than enjoy, about the NFL. I'd like it back. Now. Please. (And yes, I know that it won't go as well this time around -- hell, Philly might not even have a team -- and I'm going to get wildly annoyed with NFL loyalists who shalt have no other league before it. Like that league doesn't desperately need to be taken down a peg or six.)


Dirty Davey said...

Of course, the best thing about the Stars was that they moved to BALTIMORE, where they could get the love of bereft Baltimore Colts fans like myself.

Between the time Indianapolis stole the Colts and their only Super Bowl victory, Baltimore won a USFL title, a Grey Cup, and a Super Bowl.

DMtShooter said...

Plus, they also had "The Wire." Let's see Indy top that.

Anonymous said...

hey great post but vince evans was not qb in that game it was scott. and spurrier did not fail miserably ,he just did not win playoff game.

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