The Virtual U.S. Football League

The Virtual U.S. Football League
The 1987 USFL MVP: Walter Lewis…...

Friday, December 19, 2014

'87 Chronology-MVP Award

Event Date: July 15th, 1987

Event Description: USFL Most Valuable Player

Source: The Sporting News

The United States Football league presented the MVP award today to Memphis Showboats’ quarterback Walter Lewis.

Quarterback Ed Luther (Jacksonville) and Jim Kelly (Houston) finished second and third respectively.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'87 Chronology-Cruise Control

Event Date: July 12th, 1987

Event Description: ‘Boats Take Title

Source: Lakeland Ledger

Walter Lewis tossed two touchdown passess to help Memphis secure its first USFL championship with a 31-14 triumph over the New Orleans Breakers on Sunday night in the friendly confines of the Houston Astrodome.

Lewiss' MVP performance combined with a solid effort from Gill Fenerty and the Showboats’ defense sent Memphis (16-4) to its first championship.

"It feels good to get the MVP award but it feels better to get that championship knotch on our belts," Lewis said.

Lewis completed 18-of-29 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for 72 yards on seven attempts. Lewis was named the game's Most Valuable Player for his overall effort.

New Orleans signal-caller John Fourcade struggled as he completed just 8-of-14 passes for 125 yards with no touchdowns and three sacks. 

Fourcade was replaced by Jeff Wickersham who 7-of-13 for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the final frame after the game was well out of reach.

"We didn't make any plays until it was too late, period," said Breakers head coach Dick Coury.  

Coury has led New Orleans to the championship game for the second straight year, only to see his team get blown out.

William Andrews scored on a seven-yard to open the scoring and close out the first frame. the drive covered 70 yards over the course of 12 plays, and took almost eight minutes.

Neither team would score in the second stanza as the defenses and referees dominated play. The Showboats led 7-0 at the intermission.

The Showboats then ripped off 21 straight points to seize control of the contest.

After a Breakers’ turnover, Lewis nearly fumbled at the goal line, but Gill Fenerty scooped up the ball and plunged three-yards for the score giving Memphis a 14-0 lead at the 11:28 mark of the third quarter.

After a Breakers’ punt, Walter Lewis extended the margin with a touchdown toss to William Andrews from two yards out to push the lead to 21-0 near the midpoint of the stanza.

Memphis put the game away early in the final frame, as Andrews capped a seven-play, 46-yard trek with an 8-yard reception that made it 28-0 with under ten minutes left.

Wickersham, in relief of Fourcade, hooked up with Darryl Mason on a corner route from seven yards to put New Orleans on the board at the 4:19 mark, before Roger Ruzek tacked on a 28-yard field goal for Memphis.

Wickersham rounded out the scoring with a 72-yard pass to Frank Lockett with just over a minute remaining.

Marcus Dupree was held to 27 yards on 13 carries...Doran Major was named Defensive Player of the Game with seven tackles, one sack and an interception...Frank Lockett finished with 141 receiving yards on four receptions...the announced crowd for the game was 44,613.

more to come...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Baltimore Americans Poll

'87 Chronology-Baltimore Americans Introduction

Event Date: July 11th, 1987

Event Description: New Baltimore Football Franchise

Source: Lodi News Sentinel

The Americans are coming.

Following a fan vote, the United States Football League unveiled the name and logo for the Baltimore expansion franchise: the Baltimore Americans of the United States Football League. 

The Baltimore Americans will be part of the USFL's Eastern Conference and compete against the the New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars, Michigan Panthers, and Pittsburgh Maulers.

More than 50 names were submitted to the league for consideration. The colors for Baltimore are red, white, and blue. 

The Americans will host the team's first open tryout Sunday, October 4th at Memorial Stadium. The team is encouraging prospective players to come prepared to participate in strength, speed, agility and conditioning drills. 

Athletes will be asked to bring a photo to leave behind and to arrive at least 45 minutes prior for registration.

more to come......

Saturday, December 13, 2014

'87 Chronology-Championship Preview

Event Date: July 11th, 1987

Event Description: Week #21 U.S.F.L. Championship

Source: PFW

1987 USFL Championship


             (16-4) Memphis vs (13-7) New Orleans (Showboats -5)

 at Houston, Astrodome

more to come.....

Portland Storm Poll

'87 Chronology-Portland Storm Introduction

Event Date: July 11th, 1987

Event Description: New USFL Franchise

Source: The Bulletin

PORTLAND—Portland’s new USFL franchise will be called the Storm.

The name and logo were unveiled Saturday amid much fanfare, seven months before the team will take to the field at Civic Stadium.

The announcement was made before more than 2,000 football fans and a handful of alumni from the old World Football League

The club announced on Thursday that its name will be the Portland Storm and unveiled its logo and uniform. The name pays tribute to the city’s football past, and was chosen following a fan competition and survey that invited fans in the region to offer suggestions via mail.

“We wanted something unique to Portland and something distinctive and something that honoured our sports history,” said owner Fred Anderson. “I like the fact that it’s a familiar name, but at the time the logo, colors and uniform are brand new. Its a nice combination of something old and something new.”

The colors for Portland are aqua, white,black and gold.

“From day one, we committed to make this club the fans’ team, the community’s team, Portland’s team,” said Anderson. “We are honored and proud to reflect the suggestions of our fans in our team name and logo while aligning with the history and tradition of this region.”

more to come......

Friday, December 12, 2014

'87 Chronology-Coach of the Year Award

Event Date: July 10th, 1987

Event Description: USFL Coach of the Year

Source: The Sporting News

The United States Football league presented the Coach of the Year award today to Memphis Showboats’ head coach Pepper Rodgers

Rollie Dotsch (Birmingham) and Jim Stanley (Michigan) finished second and third respectively.

more to come......

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'87 Chronology-NFL Strike Vote

Event Date: July 10th, 1987

Event Description: NFL Strike Vote

Source: Ocala Star Banner

'87 Chronology-USFL Defensive MVP

Event Date: July 9th, 1987

Event Description: USFL Defensive MVP

Source: Associated Press

The United States Football league and the Football Writers of America presented the Defensive MVP award today to Arizona Wranglers’ linebacker Ed Smith

Smith led the team in tackles (102), interceptions (4), and was second in sacks (4), stuffs (14) and deflections (10).

Smith edged out teammate Kelvin Middleton and Memphis Showboats linebacker John Corker.

more to come......

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'87 Chronology-Expansion Debate '88

Event Date: July 9th, 1987

Event Description: USFL Expansion Draft Still Undecided

Source: The Pittsburgh Press

Existing USFL franchises continue to debate with the new franchises, Baltimore and Portland, over the terms of the expansion draft, but a league source did confirm that a final deal is close.

The new franchises want lists of players protected from an expansion draft to be small, perhaps as few as 15 players. However, the existing franchises want them to be as large as 35 players. 

The expansion teams would prefer to build through the college drafts and free agency. But with the NFL strike looming, many USFL owners would like to see their players tied up with expansion teams, as opposed to hitting the free agent market.

The new franchises will be allowed to sign four “star” players. The original teams were limited to signing two “stars” outside of their payroll when the league was formed in 1983.

more to come...

Monday, December 8, 2014

'87 Chronology-All-Stars Announcement

Event Date: July 8th, 1987

Event Description: USFL All-Stars

Source: The Sporting News

The Sporting News unveiled the 1987 USFL All-Star teams today.

The teams were selected by the Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly and the league’s head coaches. 

This is the 5th year in which the USFL has recognized the season’s best players.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

'87 Chronology-July Owners Meeting

Event Date: July 7th, 1987

Internal Memo: USFL Owners Meeting

Re: Summer Agenda

The owners considered and took action on the following; 

  1. Received an update from league attorneys regarding the  Philadelphia Stars antitrust suit against the National Football League regarding the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft.
  2. Accepted a report from Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. regarding the impact of a potential labor stoppage in the National Football League in 1987 on professional football as a whole and the U.S. Football League in particular.
  3. A recommendation from the Finance Committee to set the 1988 Salary Cap at $5.2 million with special exemptions for players with personal service contracts.
  4. Opened discussion regarding Allocation Selection Draft plan, whereby each team will allocate players into the draft pool.
  5. Approved elimination of the Equalization Draft for the 1988 season due to league expansion.
  6. Set the date for Allocation Selection Draft for September 8th.
  7. Approved a recommendation from the Competition Committee to modify the Territorial Colleges for 1988 Territorial Draft. 
  8. Received a report regarding the financial health of the Los Angeles Express, Chicago Blitz, and Birmingham Stallions.
  9. Received a recommendation from the Television Committee to continue talks with alternative cable entities and other satellite providers for television rights to the 1988 season.
  10. The owners agreed to meet again in late August.

more to come......

Saturday, December 6, 2014

1987 Championship Game Poll

'87 Chronology-Upset Special!

Event Date: July 5th, 1987

Event Description: Return Trip

Source: Times Picayune

Marcus Dupree scored two touchdowns to lead New Orleans to a surprising 25-14 victory over Houston in the Western Conference Championship at the Astrododme.

Howard McAdoo also registered a safety for the Breakers , who will play Memphis next Sunday in Houston for the U.S.F.L. championship. 

The Showboats defeated the Panthers earlier in the day in the Eastern Conference Final.

John Fourcade completed 14-of-31 passes for 268 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions in the victory.

"It was a great, total team effort," said Fourcade. “I really struggled at times out there today, but the defense pulled together, and Marcus and Malcolm (Barnwell) led us offensively.”

Next Sunday will be a return trip to the championship for the Breakers, who were defeated by Jacksonville in last years’ game. 

Houston pivot Jim Kelly suffered through six sacks and a lack of a run game as the Gamblers fell short again. Kelly was 24-of-42 for 198 yards with one touchdown and one pick.

After a dull first quarter, the Breakers opened up the scoring on a five-yard run touchdown run by Dupree with 12:30 left in the first half.

Later in the frame a Tim Mazzetti field goal from 38 yards gave the visitors a 10-0 lead with under five minutes remaining.

The Gamblers got on the board after a long interception return by Dennis Thurman put Houston into scoring position. From there Kelly found Richard Johnson for a 17-yard touchdown, cutting their deficit to 10-7 at the 1:19 mark. 

The Breakers then took their 10-7 edge into the intermission.

Another Marcus Dupree touchdown run in the third, pushed the Breakers’ margin to 17-7. The touchdown capped an eight-play, 94 yards drive drive.

In the final frame Tim Mazzetti kicked a 35-yard field goal after the Breakers got excellent field position from a Bruce Miller interception return.

Then five minutes later, McAdoo sacked Kelly in the endzone for a safety to make it a 22-7 affair.

A Sandy Labeaux fumble return from 56-yards out pulled Houston to within 22-14, but the Gamblers would draw no closer than that.

Mazzetti capped off the scoring for New Orleans with a 51-yard field goal with under two minutes remaining.

Malcolm Barnwell finished with 140 yards receiving on just three catches, including an 80-yard reception in the second quarter...Kenny Neil and Allen Hughes each tallied a pair of sacks...the Gamblers were held to a season low 172 yards of net offense.

more to come......

Friday, December 5, 2014

'87 Chronology-All Aboard!

Event Date: July 5th, 1987

Event Description: “Boats Headed to Title Game

Source: The Courier

Walter Lewis tossed one touchdown pass and rushed for 64 yards to lead Memphis over Michigan, 16-3, in the Eastern Conference Championship at the Liberty Bowl.

Lewis completed just 8-of-11 passes for 114 yards for the Showboats, who advanced to the championship game for the first time in the teams’ history. Roger Ruzek connected on three field goals to round out the scoring for Memphis.

Bob Gagliano completed 12-of-28 passes for 154 yards  with one interception and one sack in the loss.

The Showboats opened up the scoring :53 at the ten-minute mark on a 25-yard field goal by Ruzek.

In the second frame, Memphis put together a ten-play, 72 yard drive which was capped with a 20-yard touchdown pass in one-on-one coverage to Sam Bowers to the home team team a 10-0 edge and they never looked back.

Michigan would tack on a field goal in the second stanza, but the Memphis defense was dominate throughoout the game.

League commissioner Chet Simmons was at the game...Michigan turned the ball over once and committed ten penalties...William Andrews led the Memphis rushing attack with 71 yards, and Gill Fenerty chipped in 64 more.

more to come......

Thursday, December 4, 2014

'87 Chronology-Semifinals Preview

Event Date: July 3rd, 1987

Event Description: Week #20 Playoff Preview

Source: PFW

Week #20 USFL Semifinals Preview


           (14-5) Michigan at (15-4) Memphis  (Showboats -5)

 (12-7) New Orleans at  (13-6) Houston (Gamblers -3)

more to come.....

Monday, December 1, 2014

'87 Chronology-Road Warriors

Event Date: June 28th, 1987

Event Description: Breakers Tame Stallions

Source: Times Picayune

John Fourcade threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns, leading the New Orleans Breakers to a 24-14 victory over the Birmingham Stallions in the opening round of the USFL playoffs.

Fourcade completed 25-of-32 passes for the Breakers, who will now travel to Houston to take on Jim Kelly and the Gamblers next week in the Western Conference final.

Malcolm Barnwell had four catches for 46 yards with two touchdowns for the Breakers, and Marcus Dupree ran for 114 yards on 25 carries. Frank Lockett also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.

Kent Austin threw for 163 yards on 11-of-17 while filling in in relief of injured starter Cliff Stoudt. Austin also tossed a23-yard touchdown pass to Jim Smith.

Joel Coles ran for 42 yards on 21 carries for the Stallions, while Ken Toler made three catches for 68 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Breakers got on the board, as Fourcade found Barnwell from ten yards out for a touchdown at the 12:05 mark of the second stanza.

New Orleans made it 14-0 with another Fourcade to Barnwell touchdown, this time from 11-yards, to extend their lead to 14-0 with just 1:39 left until the half.

The Stallions made it 14-7 on Cole's 2-yard touchdown run with under a minute remaining before halftime. 

Birmingham tied the game with the Austin to Smith touchdown as the only scoring of the third quarter, but then were shut down in the fianl frame.

The Breakers opened the scoring in the fourth with a Fourcade to Lockett touchdown pass from 23-yards out, giving the visitors a 21-14 lead.

Ten minutes later, the Breakers cemented their win with a 23-yard field goal from Tim Mazzetti.

The Stallions were bounced from the playoffs last year in the opening round after their loss to Oakland...the Breakers piled up 27 first downs compared to just 10 for Birmingham.

more to come......

'87 Chronology-Getting Their Kicks

Event Date: June 28th, 1987

Event Description: 'Boats Advance; Defense Shines

Source: Star News

Walter Lewis led the way with 200 yards of combined offense to lead the Showboats over Jacksonville, 15-3, in a Eastern Conference semifinal game at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

Lewis completed 17-of-28 passes for 137 yards for the Showboats, who advanced to the Eastern Final against the Michigan Panthers next week. 

Roger Ruzek nailed all five field goal attempts to account for the home teams’ scoring.

Ed Luther, who led his team to the USFL Championship last year, failed to score in this one. Luther completed just 13-of-31 passes for 162 yards in the loss.

The Bulls were held to just eight first downs and 180 yards of net offense...Memphis controlled the ball for over 43 minutes...Memphis will host Michigan next week in the Eastern Conference final.

more to ocme......

Sunday, November 30, 2014

'87 Chronology-Kelly's Heroes

Event Date: June 27th, 1987

Event Description: Kelly Carries Gamblers

Source: Houston Star News 

Jim Kelly tossed four touchdowns and Sam Harrell added another on the ground, as the Houston Gamblers defeated the Oakland Invaders, 35-20, at the Oakland Coliseum.

Kelly went 25-for-38 for 302 yards and two interceptions. Harrell had 19 carries for 72 yards, as the Gamblers (13-6) advanced to the semi-finals round of the playoffs.

Fred Besana went 29-for-48 for 273 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, for the Invaders, who finish the season at (10-9).

Running back Dwayne Wilson had eleven carries for 37 yards rushing and eleven catches for 69 yards. 

The Gamblers had the only points of the first quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Vince Courville.

Houston increased its lead to 21-7 with two touchdowns separated by 12 minutes of clock time. The first coming via a Kelly to Lonell Phea 23-yard touchdown reception.

After the Invaders got on the board with a Ted Torosian touchdown reception, Houston took the ball down the field in twelve plays, setting up a 26-yard touchdown pass to Richard Johnson with just 1:02 remaining in the second quarter.

Oakland opened the second-half scoring with a 21-yard field goal from Kevin Shea, making it a 21-10 contest with 11:35 remaining in the third. The Gamblers then came out firing as Kelly quickly found Herkie Walls for a 43-yard score and a 28-10 Houston lead.

The Invaders finally got their offense on track with a 30-yard pass from Besana to Wesley Howell. That score was coupled with another a field goal to pull the home team to within 28-20 at the end of three-quarters. 

The final frame would see Houston extend their lead to 35-20 after the Sam Harrell touchdown run.

Houston will host the Western final next week if the New Orleans Breakers win at Birmingham on Sunday...each team gave up just one sack, but they did combine for 13 penalties.

more to come......

'87 Chronology-Last Minute Heroics

Event Date: June 27th, 1987

Event Description: Gagliano Seals Late Win

Source: Lakeland Ledger

Bob Gagliano's seven-yard touchdown pass with just 36 seconds remaining on the clock lifted Michigan past Tampa Bay, 27-26 in the opening round of the USFL playoffs.

Gagliano completed 18-of-24 passes for 248 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception. Derek Holloway caught six passes for 111 yards while Ken Lacy ran for 72 yards and two scores.

Ben Bennett finished 20-of-31 for 288 yards three touchdowns and an interception for Tampa Bay. Greg Boone rushed for 46 yards while Greg Anderson caught six balls for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

The Panthers opened the scoring, as Lacy capped an eleven-play, 58 yard drive with a three-yard run at the eight minute mark of the opening frame.

The Bandits answered a few minutes later when Anderson got loose for a 39-yard touchdown reception.

The tie was short-lived as Gagliano found Holloway for a 13-yard score to put Michigan back on top, 14-7, with 3:27left in the opening quarter.

A Jeff Brockhaus field goal rounded out the first-half scoring as Michigan led 14-10 at the intermission.

Greg Andersons' second score of the game, this one from nine yards out, gave the Bandits a 17-14 advantage early in the third quarter.

The Panthers came right back and finished a six-play, 49-yard drive with a two-yard Ken Lacy touchdown run as Michigan regained the lead at 21-17.

Tampa Bay forged back early in the final quarter when Brockhaus was successful on his second field goal of the game, a 44-yarder, with a little over nine minutes left in the game, pulling the Bandits to within 21-20.

The Bandits kept plugging away in the final frame as Bennett led a 69-yard drive, culminating with a Bennett to Anderson touchdown pass from 44-yards out. A failed two-point conversion left the Bandits up by five at 26-21.

Gagliano then set up the game winner with a pair of big plays. 

The quarterback found Mike Cobb over the middle for a 14-yard gain before getting out of the pocket and finding Ken Lacy for another 27 yards down to the Bandits seven-yard line. A play later, Gagliano connected with Daryle Crane and gave the Panthers (14-5) the win.

Tampa Bay outgained Michigan 394 to 337...Wendell Tyler was held to just 43 yards on 19 carries for the visitors...the Panthers will take on the winner of the Jacksnville vs. Memphis contest next weekend.

more to come.......

Thursday, November 27, 2014

1987 Championship Poll

'87 Chronology-Playoff Preview

Event Date: June 26th, 1987

Event Description: Week #19 Playoff Preview

Source: PFW

Week #19 USFL Preview


          (11-7) Tampa Bay at (13-5) Michigan (Panthers -6)

(12-6) Houston at (10-8) Oakland (Gamblers -4)


            (11-7) New Orleans at (14-4) Birmingham (Stallions -2) 

(11-7) Jacksonville at (14-4) Memphis (‘Boats -7)

more to come.....

'87 Chronology-Black Monday Blues

Event Date: June 23rd, 1987

Event Description: Stars Dump Coach

Source: The Daily Reporter

Ted Marchibroda was fired as coach of the Philadelphia Stars on Monday after he failed to produce a winning season in his two years with the team.

Marchibroda's entire staff of assistant coaches also was dismissed.

Philadelphia closed a 4-14 season Sunday with a 34-10 loss to the New Jersey Generals. The game marked the conclusion of Marchibroda's short tenure. 

The Stars were 11-23 under Marchibroda, winning three consecutive games only once and never coming close to reaching the playoffs.

Inside sources claim that the Stars will now name former defensive coordinator Vince Tobin as their new head coach.

more to come...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'87 Chronology-Regular Season Wrap

Event Date: June 22nd, 1987

Event Description: Regular Season Wrap

Source: Toledo Blade

Cliff Stoudt threw for one touchdown, and the Birmingham Stallions claimed the USFL Central with a 31-17 win over Houston in the regular-season finale for both clubs.

With the win, Birmingham (14-4) clicnhed the division title, but the win may have been costly with the loss of Stoudt to a leg injury in the third quarter.  The Stallions will host the Breakers in round one of the USFL playoffs next week.

Stoudt finished 9-of-16 for 97 yards while Joel Coles rushed for 62 yards and a score. Jim Smith had seven catches for 66 yards and Joey Jones hauled in a touchdown reception to open the second-half scoring.

Jim Kelly passed for 240 yards with an interception for the Gamblers (12-6), who will travel to Oakland to take the West champion Invaders.

Tony Truelove opened up the scoring with a one-yard rushing touchdown, but Houston quickly responded with a Sam Harrell touchdown scamper and a 42-yard field goal from Efren Herrera. 

The Gamblers led 10-7 at the intermission.

Stoudt and Jones connected for a 43-yard touchdown completion to open the second-half as the Stallions took a 14-10 lead. 

A 30-yard Dan Miller field goal extended the lead to 17-10 as the teams headed into the final stanza.

The Stallions struck again early in the fourth back with a Tim Jessie six-yard touchdown run as Birmingham moved out to a two touchdown lead.

Houston quickly countered with a Sloan Hood touchdown run, cutting the lead to 24-17.

Bo Robinson’s 14-yard run capped the scoring and sealed the win for the hosts with just over five minutes remaining.

Richard Johnson led the way for the Gambler receivers with nine catches for 75 yards...Kent Austin came on in relief for Stoudt and finished with 52 yards passing on 4-of-7 efficiency.

In other Sunday action; Orlando upset Jacksonville 34-27, Tampa Bay downed Memphis 24-23. 

Meanwhile, New Orleans won at Chicago 23-17, Oakland downed Denver 17-6 to secure the West dvision title and Arizona shut out Los Angeles 21-0.

more to come......