Tuesday, June 19, 2018

'83 Chronology-Pivotal Pursuits

Event Date: November 6th, 1983

Event Description: Generals Pursue Pivot

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal

Sunday, June 17, 2018

'83 Chronology-Tragedy

Event Date: November 6th, 983

Event Description:  West Virginia Mourns

Source: United Press International

Andre Gist, who played last season with Tampa Bay of the United States Football League, was killed Sunday in a one-car accident on a city street, police said.

Another former WVU player, tight end Mark Raugh, was the driver of the vehicle, police said.

Raugh, who was treated for minor injuries, was charged with disorderly conduct and released after posting $250 bond.

A second passenger, Tina Belt, 20, of Morgantown, was also treated and released.

Gist, 25, a native of Clinton, Md., was a sometimes-starting offensive guard for the Tampa Bay Bandits this year. He played his college ball for West Virginia University and was living in Morgantown.

Raugh, 23, a native of Roaring Springs, Pa., who also was living in Morgantown, had been drafted and was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL. He has just signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL.

The accident occurred about 3:30 a.m. on University Avenue.

'83 Chronology-Tryout Camps

Event Date: November 5th, 1983

Event Description: Outlaws Sign Trio

Source: United Press International

The Arizona Outlaws have announced the signings of three players, including two players from free agent tryout camps held since the end of the 1983 season.

Signed to U.S. Football League contracts Friday were defensive back Selwyn Drain, defensive end Randy Phillips and offensive tackle Joe Carnahan.

Drain was a four-year letterman for Ball State University and was a first-team All-Mid America Conference selection in 1982. He was signed by the Chicago Bears, but was released midway through the 1983 preseason.

Phillips was signed out of a free agent camp held in Monroe, La. He was a four-year letterman at Arkansas and served briefly with the NFL Denver Broncos and USFL New Jersey Generals.

Carnahan was a two-year starter at Oregon State University and was signed out of a free agent camp held in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, team officials announced season ticket sales exceeded the 11,000 mark in the five weeks since Dr. Ted Diethrich and William Tatham purchased the franchise. Last year, the team sold just over 16,000 season tickets en route to an average attendance of 25,000.

'83 Chronology-Befuddled

Event Date: November 3rd, 1983

Event Description: Sipe Rumors

Source: United Press International

The New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League seem to be making inroads into Cleveland's sports teams.

Cleveland Indians officials say that Generals owner Donald F. Trump has expressed an interest in buying the American League baseball team, but denied rumors that a deal has been made.

And the Generals have reportedly made a firm money offer to Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe, who began negotiating a new contract with the Browns Wednesday.

Trump, a real estate developer, said in a statement from his Brooklyn, N.Y., office that he was interested in buying the Indians, and said he would keep the team in Cleveland.

Indians President Gabe Paul reportedly favors Trump as a potential buyer for the team, but said that others were still interested.

“As I've said before, this is not a fire sale,” said Patrick O'Neill, spokesman for the O'Neill foundation which owns 55 percent of the Indians. “We're going to do this right.”

Meanwhile, the Generals have made "a bonafideand strong money offer” for quarterback Sipe, said Ed Keating, the player's agent. The contract is reported to be for more than two years, and completely guaranteed.

“I got the impression it is (principal owner Art Modell's) opinion we already have reached agreement with the USFL,” Keating said. “I told him it's not true, but that we could settle with them very soon.”

“Frankly,” he said, “I am somewhat befuddled by the lack of aggressiveness on the part of the Browns. If they lose Brian to the other league, they will get nothing in compensation.”

Sipe sat out last Sunday's win against the Houston Oilers because of a 'tired arm,' and will be sidelined again Sunday when the Browns face Tampa Bay.

'83 Chronology-Rooting Them On

Event Date: November 2nd, 1983

Event Description: Invaders Sign Pair

Source: United Press International

The Oakland Invaders, hoping to improve their passing game, signed free agent wide receivers Holden Smith and Ron Smith Wednesday.

Holden Smith was a star at the University of California and later was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, while Ron Smith played his collegiate ball at San Diego State and spent five years in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles.

Terms of their contracts were not announced but coach-general manager John Ralston said he was delighted to land the two.

"Signing Ron and Holden will help us tremendously in 1984,” said Ralston. 

“Combining these two with Raymond Chester, the best tight end in the USFL, and with Fred Besana, our quarterback, I believe our passing game will be outstanding.”

Holden Smith gained notoriety of sorts last year when after being cut by the Colts, he poured a container of root beer on coach Frank Kush's head.

“He accused me of not trying hard when I was injured,” Smith recalled, “so I filled the biggest container I could find with root beer and poured it on him. I did it for my teammates. Everyone wants to pour something on him or hit him."

'83 Chronology-Forward Looking

Event Date: November 2nd, 1983

Event Description: Canizaro Under Control

Source: United Press International

Real estate developer Joseph Canizaro says he will buy the controlling interest in the New Orleans Breakers if the new USFL franchise gets solid fan support next season.

Canizaro said Monday he had already aquired 31 percent of the team.

“What I do depends entirely on how our city reacts to the club," said Canizaro, whose current involvement with the club was estimated at more than $2 million. “If the city supports it and loves it, it'll be all locally owned.”

The Breakers decided last month to move to New Orleans from Boston, where they were experiencing difficulty finding adequate playing quarters. 

The Louisiana Superdome, home of the NFL Saints, agreed to host the Breakers as well.

Canizaro said the Breakers would need to average 30,000 fans per game for him to buy the remainder of the team.

“I have a three-year option at a fixed price to buy the team, and I'll exercise that option when it becomes clear how New Orleans reacts,” he said. “At that point I would look to have 15 or 16 other businessmen involved as minority partners. In our budgetary figures we've looked at 29,000 to 30,000. But I honestly believe that we're looking at 40,000 to 50,000 people if I know this known.”

The Breakers, 9-9 and the surprise team of the USFL last year under head coach Dick Coury, averaged 12,735 in 21,000-seat Nickerson Field in Boston. Team officials said they couldn't have made money had every seat been filled.

The announcement of Canizaro's involvement came exactly 17 years after NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced New Orleans was being awarded an expansion franchise.

At Monday's news conference, Coury said he was hoping to begin training camp Jan. 23 in New Orleans.

"I'm going this afternoon to look at facilities both at Tulane and the University of New Orleans,' the league's 1983 coach of the year said. 'I'm really excited about our move here and getting everything going.”

Friday, June 15, 2018

'83 Chronology-Passing Fancy

Event Date: October 26th, 1983

Event Description: Gabriel Joins Allen

Source: United Press International

Former NFL passing great Roman Gabriel will join his old coach George Allen on the staff of the Arizona Outlaws.

Gabriel is to arrive in Arizona from his southern California home Friday to take over as quarterback coach for the USFL team.

“I'm very happy to be reunited with Coach Allen,” Gabriel said Wednesday. “I have so much respect for him. He will field a winning team in Arizona and I'm delighted I will be able to assist him. I've played for him and I'm looking forward to working with him.”

Gabriel resigned as head coach of the International Football League's Charlotte team to join Allen in Arizona.

“Because Roman played for me in Los Angeles, he knows what to expect from me here,” said Allen. “He will have responsibility for our passing game and will be a plus for our entire football operation.”

Allen added, “He is the type of person who has always, and will always, put forth no less than 110 percent in whatever he does. He comes to Arizona with a knowledge of our terminology and system, so this won't be a new learning situation for him. He can come here immediately and get to work.
Roman will lend the Arizona Outlaws knowledge of the game, experience in the game and a strong desire to excel.”

Gabriel was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams out of North Carolina State in 1962. He became the Rams' starting quarterback in 1966, Allen's first year as head coach of the team. During the net five seasons, the Rams posted a 49-17-5 mark and won two division titles.

In 16 pro seasons -- 11 with the Rams and five with Philadelphia - Gabriel completed 52.6 percent of his passes for 29,444 yards. He played in four Pro Bowls, was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1969 and was named Comeback Player of the Year in 1973.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

'83 Chronology-Under Pressure

Event Date: October 24th, 1983

Event Description: Shula Ends Speculation

Source: United Press International

Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula said Monday he was “no longer interested” in a $1 million-a-year offer from the New Jersey Generals of the fledgling United States Football League.

Shula said pressure last week and Sunday was interfering with his preparation of the Dolphins in the last few weeks.

“When the third question in my press conference after the game Sunday is about my contract and not about the football team, then it's time to draw the line,” Shula said.

Shula had confirmed recently that Generals owner Donald Trump had offered him $1 million a year to coach the USFL club. Shula's contract with the Dolphins is reportedly $450,000 a year and it expires Feb. 28, 1984.

Shula said he has talked with Miami owner Joe Robbie, but no date has been set for negotiations.

Shula also expressed reservations about going directly from coaching the Dolphins this season to coaching the Generals in February.

“I don't know if my 53-year-old body and mind can handle that,” he said.

In a prepared release, the Generals announced that all negotiations had been terminated.

Shula said he had told Robbie of his decision and expected to meet with him in the near future.

“I said from the beginning I was interested in giving Joe Robbie and the Dolphins every opportunity to work something out,” he said. “So far nothing has been resolved. In the event that it isn't, I'll wait until the end of the year I'll review all my options.”

'83 Chronology-Slush Fund

Event Date: October 22nd, 1983

Event Description: Trump Denies Report

Source: United Press International

New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump Saturday denied published reports that his U.S. Football League team has signed four top NFL players in a proposed $8 million deal.

The Boston Globe reported that Trump had already agreed to the proposed deal involving Los Angeles Raiders quarterback Marc Wilson and defensive backs Mike Haynes of the New England Patriots, Jeris White of the Washington Redskins and Gary Barbaro of the Kansas City Chiefs.

All four players are free agents now or will be at the end of the season and are represented by agent Howard Slusher.

Haynes, White and Barbaro are holdouts, refusing to play with their teams after contract disputes, and all three reportedly were ready to make the jump to the USFL.

“We have very little to no interest in Marc Wilson,” said Trump. “We will continue to pursue other quarterbacks. We are just talking (with the other three players) and we have not made a decision on any of them.”

New Jersey struggled with veteran Bobby Scott at quarterback for most of the 1983 season before turning to Denver Gold castoff Jeff Knapple near the end of a 3-15 inaugural season.

The Generals last month were rumored to be chasing Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe.

Wilson, who was moved ahead of veteran Jim Plunkett in the starting lineup for Sunday night's Raiders game against the Dallas Cowboys, has reportedly told his Raiders teammates he wants to stay with the team.

The reported offer to Wilson would have made him the second-highest paid quarterback in history behind Denver rookie John Elway, who received $5 million for five years.

The deal also would have made Haynes, White and Barbaro the three highest-paid defensive backs in football. The Patriots have offered Haynes more than $400,000 per year which they say would make him the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL, but he rejected it.

It had been reported that Trump and Slusher had reached an agreement Thursday at the USFL owners meeting in Houston. However, its completion was contingent upon Wilson being part of the deal. The report did not contain the breakdown of the $8 million deal for each player or how many years it would cover.

Trump, who acquired the Generals several weeks ago, has been courting Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula and has offered him $1 million over five years to coach the Generals. Shula's present contract with the Dolphins expires Feb. 28.

Former Generals Coach Chuck Fairbanks sold his 10 percent interest in the club and lost his job in the sale.

Monday, June 11, 2018

'83 Chronology-Realignment

Event Date: October 21st, 1983

Event Description: USFL Owners Meet

Source: United Press International

United States Football League owners voted Tuesday to realign the league's two conferences into two divisions for the 1984 season, a spokesman said.

Spokesman Doug Kelly said the eastern and western conferences would have eight teams each, split into two divisions.

In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic division will include the New Jersey Generals, the Philadelphia Stars, the Pittsburgh Maulers and the Washington Federals. The Southern division will include the Birmingham Stallions, the Jacksonville Bulls, the Memphis Showboats and the Tampa Bay Bandits.

The former Boston Breakers, which became the new New Orleans franchise in a vote by owners Tuesday, will be in the Central division, he said.

In the Western Conference, the Chicago Blitz, the Houston Gamblers, the Michigan Panthers, and the Breakers will make up the Central division.

The Pacific division will include the Arizona Outlaws, the Denver Gold, the Los Angeles Express and the Oakland Invaders.

Kelly said the conference systems was needed because of the league's expansion.

'We added four teams, so it was a question of basically trying to be a little more geographic in concept,' he said.

In other action, the USFL announced the 1984 season will open the weekend of Feb. 26 and conclude June 24. It will be followed by two weeks of playoffs and a championship game July 15.

Two division winners and two wild cards from each conference will qualify for the playoffs, Kelly said.

The USFL draft will be held Jan. 4 and 5 in New York. Training camps will open Jan. 23.

In addition, the league will add an official for each game bringing the total to seven working each game, Kelly said.

The USFL meetings will continue through the week.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

'83 Chronology-The Crescent City

Event Date: October 20th, 1983

Event Description: Breakers Moving

Source: Daily News

'83 Chronology-Tentative Offer II

Event Date: October 20th, 1983
Event Description: Generals Pursue Sipe
Source: United Press International
The New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League confirmed Wednesday they have talked to the agent of Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe but denied making a money offer.
“According to Jim Gould (representative of new team owner Donald Trump), we never made a money offer to Brian Sipe's agent,” said Generals spokesman Kevin MacConnell. “A representative went out (to Cleveland), Jim didn't say who the representative was, to express interest in him.
“They spoke to the L.A. Express, who have the negotiating rights to him, and Jim Gould spoke to Al Harmon (owner of the L.A. Express) to let him know the Generals were interested in Sipe. At no time was a money offer made.”
However, an Express spokesman, said from Los Angeles that the club has not been contacted by the Generals.
At the Browns' practice site in Berea, both the club and Sipe brushed aside a reported offer of $600,000 per year to lure the 11-year veteran to the USFL.
“I think Brian Sipe ... his first interest is in the Cleveland Browns, us beating Seattle,” Cleveland coach Sam Rutigliano said. “I really don't know of anything else. I read the funnies every day too.”
“The first time I heard of this was this morning when a reporter contacted me,” Sipe said. “I have heard nothing else. I haven't addressed myself to it. It's not important to me right now. What's important to me is preparing to play the Seattle Seahawks and there's just not enough time in my schedule to think about anything else.”
The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that Generals' representative Gould made an offer to Sipe.
Sipe said he had spoken to a reporter from the Daily News in training camp.
“He ended by asking me ... if I was designated to sit the bench this year, would I move to the USFL and play for less money, or something, than I was playing for right now,” said Sipe. “I tried to be positive and I said, “Why think like that. Why not think I'm going to win the Super Bowl and become the highest paid player?”
“There was nothing more to it than that except I was trying to express to him positiveness on my side about my confidence. It really had very little to do with the USFL.”
Rutigliano said he didn't think the offer would upset the positive attitude built by the 3-1 Browns this season.
“You're dealing with a very mature guy who is very stable and with 48 other guys who have a great sense of humor, too,” he said. “I think this is kind of funny and adds a little levity to our Wednesday, which made it a little better for us.”
Asked to guess what might happen next, he said, “I don't know. It's a new league and the franchises come up like McDonalds, so there may be something else.”

'83 Chronology-Tentative Offer

Event Date: October 18th, 1983
Event Description: Generals Pursue Shula
Source: United Press International
Miami Dolphin coach Don Shula said Monday he was tentatively offered $1 million a year to coach the USFL's New Jersey Generals, the same team that lured Heisman Trophy-winner Herschel Walker with a huge contract.
Shula said he received three telephone calls last week from representatives of the United States Football League team trying to determine whether he would be interested in taking the job in 1984.
“The calls weren't from the principal owner but from people who are close to the situation,” said Shula, one of the most successful coaches in National Football League history.
Shula said he was tentatively offered $1 million a year -- more than double the salary of any NFL coach.
Shula refused to say whether he was interested in the Generals' offer. His contract with the Dolphins runs out Feb. 28 unless he and team owner Joe Robbie reach agreement on a new one before then.
“At the present time, my contract here has not been settled,” he said. “I'm certainly going to give Joe every opportunity to work it out here.”

Friday, June 8, 2018

'83 Chronology-Breaking Away

Event Date: October 15th, 1983

Event Description:  Breaking Away

Source: United Press International

The Boston Breakers are expected to complete a deal to move to New Orleans within the next 48 hours, a newspaper reported today.

The Boston Globe said a top USFL league official has indicated the move is likely to be completely set by next Tuesday when league meetings begin in Houston.

If the final details of the deal are worked out by then, the league owners would be able to ratify an agreement.

It is not known whether owners George Matthews and Randy Vataha plan to sell the team outright to a group of New Orleans businessmen or whether they plan to retain partial interests in the team.

The USFL team has been in Boston for just a year and a move has been anticipated for several months because the team has not found a satisfactory playing field.

When Matthews, Vataha and a small group of investors bought the franchise a year ago, the team hoped to play in Harvard Stadium. But Harvard officials would not permit it and the team played on Boston University's Nickerson Field during the 1982-1983 season.

Although the Breakers played well, ending the season with a (9-9) record, attendance was poor and the team lost nearly $2.5 million.

The Breakers found the BU field too small and after negotiations with the New England Patriots to play at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro fellthrough, the team began looking for a new home.

Since July, the owners have talked with representatives of Memphis, Indianapolis, Akron, Seattle Portland and Hawaii.


'83 Chronology-Express Interest

Event Date: October 12th, 1983

Event Description: McDonald Expresses Interest

Source: United Press International

Reserve quarterback Paul McDonald is continuing to talk with the U.S. Football League while his agent negotiates with the Cleveland Browns.

Leigh Steinberg said Tuesday negotiations with the Browns are becoming “more progressive,” but indicated he and the quarterback are continuing to talk with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL.

McDonald is dissatisfied with his role as the backup to starter Brian Sipe, who is having a good year for the 4-2 Browns.

Last season, McDonald took over the starting role midway through the season and led the Browns to a playoff spot. However, Sipe won the starting role this season.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

'83 Chronology-Trump Card

Event Date: October 5th, 1983

Event Description:  Duncan Sells Generals

Source: United Press International

The New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League have called a Thursday news conference to announce the sale of the club to  a consortium led by real estate investor Donald Trump.

A source within the league said Trump, as well as representatives from Madison Square Garden Inc., and Generals' owner J. Walter Duncan will attend the 10:30 a.m. EDT conference at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.

The Generals finished 3-15 in the USFL's maiden season and club officials, including president and coach Chuck Fairbanks, have been negotiating the sale of the franchise for several weeks.

Last week, New York attorney Lonn Berney said he had purchased the Generals for $9 million and planned to move the team to a proposed stadium in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Generals and the USFL denied the sale of the club to Berney and stressed the franchise intended to honor a 20-year lease at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Owner John McMullen of baseball's Houston Astros and Madison Square Garden had previously been reported interested in acquiring the Generals, whose average attendance was just under 34,000 in 76,000-seat Giants Stadium.

Trump, 37, recently completed the 56-story Trump Tower and was the prime mover in a venture with the Hyatt Corporation to open an ultra-modern 1,407-room hotel next to Grand Central Station in Manhattan.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed, although it is believed that Trump and MSG Incorporated will each take control of 40% of the franchise. New York developer Stephen Ross and current head coach Chuck Fairbanks will each control 10%.

In addition to the sale of the Generals, former owner J. Walter Duncan has purchased the rights to a future expansion team to be based in Oklahoma which would be closer to his current business and oil interests. 

The league would not disclose when the team would begin play, but Commissioner Chet Simmons did confirm that Duncan had purchased the rights to the now defunct Wranglers’ franchise, including the rights to the team logo, some equipment and the copyright to the the name Wranglers.