Harry Usher

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Harry Lester Usher
Born (1939-03-06)March 6, 1939
Jersey City, New Jersey
Died June 22, 2000(2000-06-22) (aged 61)
Secaucus, New Jersey
Occupation Attorney at law
Known for 1984 Summer Olympics
United States Football League

Harry Lester Usher (March 6, 1939 – June 22, 2000) was an American attorney who was the second and last commissioner of the United States Football League (USFL). He was also the executive vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC), which oversaw the business operations of the 1984 Summer Olympics. His legal expertise was in entertainment law.[1]

Early years[edit]

Usher was born on March 6, 1939, in Jersey City, New Jersey. His father died shortly after his birth. He entered Brown University on a scholarship, graduated as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1961, and later helped many California-based students attend the university. He then matriculated at Stanford Law School, where he was editor of its Law Review.[2][3] He earned his law degree in 1964.[1]

1984 Summer Olympics[edit]

Usher was the executive vice-president and general manager of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Prior to the Games, he headed the Beverly Hills Bar Association. His duties included the conclusion of important contracts concerning both governmental agencies and sports facilities that were used during the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad.

When he was practicing law, he met his client Peter Ueberroth, the future chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.

He was awarded the Olympic Order in 1984. After the games, he was a trustee of Brown University for six years.

United States Football League[edit]

Usher was named the commissioner of the United States Football League on January 15, 1985, succeeding Chet Simmons who had resigned the previous day. After signing a three-year contract, he inherited a league that continued to incur heavy financial losses. ESPN had renewed its network television deal for three years. ABC, knowing that the USFL was moving to an autumn schedule in 1986 in direct competition with the more-established National Football League (NFL), decided to televise games for only the 1985 season.[3]

Usher led the USFL's antitrust suit against the NFL in 1985. However, after the league only won a dollar in damages (tripled to $3 under antitrust law), Usher announced the league would not play its scheduled 1986 season. After the league's final appeals failed in 1988, the league formally disbanded.


Usher had two open-heart surgeries, the first in 1975 when he was only 36.[2] The second occurred at St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, California on January 9, 1986. He had checked into the hospital complaining of chest pains nineteen days earlier on December 21, 1985.[4] He died at age 61 in Secaucus, New Jersey on June 22, 2000. He had suffered a heart attack while exercising at the AmeriSuites Hotel gym, also in Secaucus. He was on a consulting mission for General Electric Financial Services Corp.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c Litsky, Frank. "Harry Usher, 61, Top Aide for the Profitable 1984 Olympics," The New York Times, Saturday, June 24, 2000.
  2. ^ a b c Reich, Kenneth. "'84 L.A. Official Usher Dies," Los Angeles Times, Friday, June 23, 2000.
  3. ^ a b "LAOOC's Usher Replaces Simmons as the Commissioner of the USFL," The Associated Press, Wednesday, January 16, 1985.
  4. ^ "Usher's Heart Surgery Is Called Successful," Los Angeles Times, Friday, January 10, 1986.