1986 USFL Season
By Patrick Mondout
Following the 1985 season, the Houston Gamblers merged into the New
Jersey Generals and the Denver Gold merged into the Jacksonville Bulls.
A February, 1986 meeting of team owners, which was supposed to just be
procedural, became a turning point in the league's history when
Baltimore's owner Myles Tanenbaum suggested the league should idle itself
until the $1.3B lawsuit against the NFL was resolved. When the news became
public, Generals RB Herschel Walker then threatened to bolt for the Dallas
Cowboys - who had wisely drafted his rights late in the 1985
NFL Draft - if the league did not play the '86 season as scheduled.
Other owners and league commissioner Harry Usher claimed it was only
Tanenbaum who felt that way and Usher indicated that he'd be happy to hold
a dispersal draft of Baltimore Stars players, if the owner was not willing
to field at team the coming Fall. This was the two time defending league
championship Stars he was ready to disperse! Such was the wacky world
of the USFL as it started to implode.
It's hard to see how a league with no teams in California, Texas, or
Chicago and with three of eight teams in Florida (but not Miami) was going
to market itself, but the question became moot. The league cancelled the
season (suggesting they'd be back in the Fall of 1987) and Herschel Walker
and others bolted for the NFL.
When the Fall of 1987 came, there were labor problems in the NFL (just
like in 1982), and a strike cost the older league four games (though three
were played by replacement players, including many former USFL'ers), but
there was no sign of the USFL itself.
For the anticipated 1986 season that was to take place in the Fall - in
direct competition with the NFL - the league realigned the division as
1986 USFL Lineup
Note: Season cancelled.
$1 League: The Rise and Fall of the USFL by Jim Byrne
The Sporting News Official USFL Guide and Register, 1984
Sporting News Official USFL Guide and Register, 1985
USFL Media Guides (each team published one each year)
Kickoff Magazine (published by league; 9 issues per year + playoffs; sold at
The Sporting News (regular coverage + special "preview"
These and many other USFL items can be found at
eBay - check our links on the far right of this page!