New Jersey Generals

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New Jersey Generals
Established 1982
Folded 1986
Played in Giants Stadium
in East Rutherford, New Jersey
League/conference affiliations
United States Football League (1983–1985)
  • Eastern Conference (1984–1985)
    • Atlantic Division (1983–1984)
Team colorsScarlet red, white, royal blue, gold, brown
Owner(s)1983 J. Walter Duncan/Chuck Fairbanks
1984–1985 Donald Trump
Head coach1983 Chuck Fairbanks (6–12)
1984–1985 Walt Michaels (25–13)
Team history
  • New Jersey Generals (1983–1985)
League championships (0)
Conference championships (0)
Division championships (0)
Playoff appearances (1)
Home stadium(s)

The New Jersey Generals were a franchise of the United States Football League (USFL) established in 1982 to begin play in the spring and summer of 1983. The team played three seasons from 1983 to 1985, winning 31 regular season games and losing 25 while going 0–2 in postseason competition. Home games were played at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which was called The Meadowlands for Generals games.


Team colors were scarlet, white, royal blue and sunflower gold. The primary logo was a gold five-star general wreath. Team helmets were solid scarlet with the logo decal on each side and a white face-mask. Home uniforms featured red jerseys with white numbers trimmed in royal blue, with numbers on the sleeves and no striping; pants were white with a single wide red stripe trimmed in blue down the sides from hip to knee. Road jerseys were white with red numbers trimmed in blue.[1] The team was the second in the New York metropolitan area to be known as "Generals," since there was a professional soccer team in the late 1960s known as the New York Generals.



From the beginning, USFL founder David Dixon placed a premium on putting a team in the New York area. Initially, Donald Trump was tapped to own the team. However, he backed out after paying an initial installment on the franchise fee, hoping instead to buy the struggling Baltimore Colts of the NFL. Needing a credible owner with the means to front a team in the nation's biggest market, Dixon persuaded Oklahoma oil magnate J. Walter Duncan to step in. Duncan had originally been slated to own the USFL's Chicago franchise, as he'd grown up in Chicago. However, he readily agreed to shift to New York.[2]

Duncan took on former New England Patriots coach Chuck Fairbanks as a minority partner; Duncan knew Fairbanks from his days as head coach at the University of Oklahoma. Fairbanks also served as general manager and head coach. They initially had an uphill battle to get a lease at Giants Stadium, but were able to obtain one on condition that they brand their team as "New Jersey" rather than "New York." They named the team the "Generals" after the large number of generals based in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War.[2]

The team made a big splash by signing Heisman Trophy-winning underclassman Herschel Walker, a running back from the University of Georgia. While the USFL had followed the NFL's lead in banning underclassmen from playing, league officials were certain that this rule would never withstand a court challenge. In an even more ominous development, Walker did not sign a standard player contract. Rather, he agreed to a three-year personal-services contract with Duncan. The contract was valued at $4.2 million—more than double the USFL's salary cap of $1.8 million. Nonetheless, the other owners knew having the incumbent Heisman winner in their fold would lend the USFL instant credibility, and allowed the contract to stand.

Despite the signing of Walker, who rushed for 1,812 yards and 17 touchdowns, the Generals finished their inaugural season with a 6–12 record. This was largely due to a porous defense which gave up the third-most points in the league (437) and a feeble passing attack led by ex-New Orleans Saints career backup Bobby Scott.

1983 schedule and results[edit]

Week Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final score W/L Record
Regular season
1 March 6, 1983 at Los Angeles Express Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 34,002 ABC 15–20 L 0–1
2 March 13, 1983 at Philadelphia Stars Veterans Stadium 38,205 ABC 0–25 L 0–2
3 March 20, 1983 Tampa Bay Bandits Giants Stadium 53,307 9–32 L 0–3
4 March 27, 1983 Boston Breakers Giants Stadium 41,218 21–31 L 0–4
5 April 3, 1983 at Arizona Wranglers Sun Devil Stadium 31,382 35–21 W 1–4
6 April 10, 1983 Michigan Panthers Giants Stadium 17,648 ESPN 6–21 L 1–5
7 April 17, 1983 Washington Federals Giants Stadium 35,381 ABC 23–22 W 2–5
8 April 25, 1983 at Chicago Blitz Soldier Field 32,182 ESPN 14–17 OT L 2–6
9 May 1, 1983 at Denver Gold Mile High Stadium 47,940 ABC 34–29 W 3–6
10 May 9, 1983 Birmingham Stallions Giants Stadium 38,734 ESPN 7–22 L 3–7
11 May 16, 1983 at Michigan Panthers Pontiac Silverdome 32,862 ESPN 24–31 L 3–8
12 May 22, 1983 Chicago Blitz Giants Stadium 33,812 ABC 13–19 OT L 3–9
13 May 29, 1983 at Washington Federals RFK Stadium 11,264 32–29 W 4–9
14 June 4, 1983 at Oakland Invaders Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 32,908 ESPN 21–34 L 4–10
15 June 12, 1983 Philadelphia Stars Giants Stadium 32,521 9–23 L 4–11
16 June 17, 1983 Los Angeles Express Giants Stadium 31,807 ABC 20–12 W 5–11
17 June 25, 1983 Arizona Wranglers Giants Stadium 30,612 ESPN 21–14 W 6–11
18 July 3, 1983 at Boston Breakers Nickerson Field 15,798 10–34 L 6–12



At 66 years old, Duncan soon tired of flying as far as 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from his home in Oklahoma City to see his team play. Believing that the Generals were far too important to the USFL to have an absentee owner, he decided to sell to a local buyer. After the 1983 season, he found one in Donald Trump, who had initially angled for the franchise in 1982 before backing out.[6]

Trump promptly fired Fairbanks. Seeking a high-profile coach, he initially tried to lure Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins.[2] When those talks failed, he turned to legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. Trump offered him a $5 million contract. Shula was receptive, but insisted on getting a rent-free apartment at Trump Tower. In October 1983, Trump announced that the deal was all but done, but the only snag was Shula's insistence on an apartment. A furious Shula broke off talks. Years later, former Dolphins' running back Larry Csonka, by then an executive with the Jacksonville Bulls, said that he believed Shula would have taken the job, but was angered at being "thrown out to the press" by Trump. After Joe Paterno of Penn State turned him down as well, Trump hired former New York Jets head coach Walt Michaels.[6]

The Generals responded to their poor 1983 showing with an influx of veteran NFL talent for 1984, including wide receiver Tom McConnaughey, quarterback Brian Sipe, defensive back Gary Barbaro, and linebackers Jim LeClair and Bobby Leopold. Both Walker and fullback Maurice Carthon rushed for over 1,000 yards (Walker 1,339; Carthon 1,042) as the Generals went 14–4, defeating the eventual champion Philadelphia Stars twice for that franchise's only two losses of the season. The Stars defeated the Generals 28–7 in a first round playoff game.

1984 schedule and results[edit]

Week Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final score W/L Record
1 Bye
2 Bye
3 February 11, 1984 vs. Philadelphia Stars Deland, Florida 28–20 W 1–0
4 February 17, 1984 vs. Washington Federals Orlando, Florida 3,784 27–24 W 2–0
Regular season
1 February 26, 1984 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 62,300 ABC 17–6 W 1–0
March 2, 1984 at Jacksonville Bulls Gator Bowl Stadium Postponed; rescheduled for March 4
2 March 4, 1984 at Jacksonville Bulls Gator Bowl Stadium 73,227 ABC 28–26 W 2–0
3 March 11, 1984 Philadelphia Stars Giants Stadium 46,716 ABC 17–14 W 3–0
4 March 18, 1984 at Houston Gamblers Houston Astrodome 35,532 ABC 25–32 L 3–1
5 March 25, 1984 Washington Federals Giants Stadium 38,075 43–6 W 4–1
6 March 31, 1984 at Los Angeles Express Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 19,853 ABC 26–10 W 5–1
7 April 8, 1984 Memphis Showboats Giants Stadium 43,671 35–10 W 6–1
8 April 15, 1984 Arizona Wranglers Giants Stadium 31,917 ABC 3–20 L 6–2
9 April 22, 1984 at Pittsburgh Maulers Three Rivers Stadium 14,418 ABC 14–10 W 7–2
10 April 29, 1984 Michigan Panthers Giants Stadium 50,908 ABC 31–21 W 8–2
11 May 6, 1984 Oklahoma Outlaws Giants Stadium 34,917 ABC 49–17 W 9–2
12 May 11, 1984 at Washington Federals RFK Stadium 11,367 17–31 L 9–3
13 May 21, 1984 Pittsburgh Maulers Giants Stadium 41,212 ESPN 16–14 W 10–3
14 May 28, 1984 at Chicago Blitz Soldier Field 4,307 ESPN 21–17 W 11–3
15 June 3, 1984 at Tampa Bay Bandits Tampa Stadium 45,255 ABC 14–30 L 11–4
June 8, 1984 New Orleans Breakers Giants Stadium Postponed; rescheduled for June 10
16 June 10, 1984 New Orleans Breakers Giants Stadium 23,114 ABC 31–21 W 12–4
17 June 16, 1984 Denver Gold Giants Stadium 28,915 27–7 W 13–4
18 June 24, 1984 at Philadelphia Stars Veterans Stadium 37,758 ABC 16–10 W 14–4
June 30, 1984 vs. Philadelphia Stars Franklin Field 19,038 ABC 7–28 L



Doug Flutie, Donald Trump, Generals football press conference at Trump Tower, February 1985

The 1985 season saw the heralded signing of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie of Boston College. Despite Flutie's inexperience, the Generals traded Sipe to the Jacksonville Bulls to ensure Flutie would start.[6] Flutie struggled at times but played well overall until he suffered a broken collarbone against the Memphis Showboats in the season's 15th game, sidelining him for the rest of the season. The 1985 Generals finished 11–7 behind Walker's pro-football record 2,411 rushing yards but lost again to the Stars (transplanted to Baltimore) in the first round of the playoffs, 20–17.

1985 schedule and results[edit]

Week Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final score W/L Record
1 February 2, 1985 vs. Memphis Showboats Charlotte, North Carolina 11,667 16–3 W 1–0
2 February 9, 1985 at Tampa Bay Bandits Tampa Stadium 32,370 7–21 L 1–1
3 February 15, 1985 at Orlando Renegades Florida Citrus Bowl 33,000 24–14 W 2–1
Regular season
1 February 24, 1985 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 34,785 ABC 28–38 L 0–1
2 March 1, 1985 at Orlando Renegades Florida Citrus Bowl 32,748 ESPN 28–10 W 1–1
3 March 10, 1985 Los Angeles Express Giants Stadium 58,741 ABC 35–24 W 2–1
4 March 17, 1985 at Baltimore Stars Byrd Stadium 31,026 ABC 9–29 L 2–2
5 March 24, 1985 Tampa Bay Bandits Giants Stadium 41,079 ABC 28–24 W 3–2
6 March 30, 1985 at Arizona Outlaws Sun Devil Stadium 30,432 ESPN 13–31 L 3–3
7 April 7, 1985 Houston Gamblers Giants Stadium 34,573 ABC 31–25 W 4–3
8 April 14, 1985 Portland Breakers Giants Stadium 38,245 ABC 34–7 W 5–3
9 April 19, 1985 at Memphis Showboats Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 44,339 ESPN 21–18 W 6–3
10 April 29, 1985 Orlando Renegades Giants Stadium 38,084 ESPN 24–7 W 7–3
11 May 5, 1985 at Jacksonville Bulls Gator Bowl Stadium 60,100 ABC 20–30 L 7–4
12 May 12, 1985 Baltimore Stars Giants Stadium 34,446 ABC 10–3 W 8–4
13 May 19, 1985 at Denver Gold Mile High Stadium 29,129 ABC 24–28 L 8–5
14 May 26, 1985 at Tampa Bay Bandits Tampa Stadium 44,539 ABC 30–24 OT W 9–5
15 June 1, 1985 Memphis Showboats Giants Stadium 45,682 ESPN 17–7 W 10–5
16 June 10, 1985 Jacksonville Bulls Giants Stadium 36,465 ESPN 31–24 W 11–5
17 June 15, 1985 at Oakland Invaders Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 24,338 ESPN 29–34 L 11–6
18 June 23, 1985 Birmingham Stallions Giants Stadium 44,098 ABC 6–14 L 11–7
Quarterfinal July 1, 1985 Baltimore Stars Giants Stadium 26,982 17–20 L



Almost from the moment he bought the Generals, Trump sought to use them as a vehicle to get an NFL team. To this end, he began advocating moving the USFL from a spring schedule to a fall schedule, directly opposite the NFL. Trump's long-term plans called for moving the Generals across the Hudson River to New York, which had not had a team play within its borders since the Jets moved from Shea Stadium in Queens to the Meadowlands after the 1983 season. He intended to have the renamed New York Generals play at Shea until the construction of a new 80,000-seat "Trump Stadium" in Manhattan.[6]

In 1984, Trump convinced most of his fellow owners to move to a fall schedule in 1986. He contended that if the USFL were to hold its own against the NFL, it would eventually force a merger with the more established league—in which the owners of any USFL teams included in a merger would see their investment more than double.

The Generals acquired the assets of one of the teams displaced by the vote to move to the fall, the Houston Gamblers, during the extended off-season. This was widely reported as a merger, since the Generals inherited all of the Gamblers' player contracts–including those of quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Ricky Sanders. Michaels was fired, replaced with former Gamblers coach Jack Pardee, who planned to bring Kelly and the Gamblers' high-powered run and shoot offense with him. Fans immediately dubbed the Kelly-Walker led Generals as the USFL's "Dream Team."

However, the revamped Generals never played a down. The 1986 season was cancelled after the USFL won only a nominal one dollar verdict in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL (which was trebled to three dollars due to it being an antitrust suit); the league folded soon afterward.

Numerous Generals players, including Flutie, Walker, and center Kent Hull went on to productive NFL careers. Flutie also starred in the Canadian Football League; Hull (with Gambler quarterback Kelly) played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, and Flutie was the last quarterback to have led the Bills to the NFL playoffs until the 2017 season.

Single-season leaders[edit]


Season Regular season Playoffs
W L T Finish W L Results
1983 6 12 0 3rd, Atlantic
1984 14 4 0 2nd, Atlantic 0 1 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Philadelphia)
1985 11 7 0 2nd, Eastern 0 1 Lost Quarterfinals (Baltimore)
Total 31 23 0   0 2


  1. ^ "New Jersey Generals Archives – Fun While It Lasted". Fun While It Lasted.
  2. ^ a b c Reeths, Paul (2017). The United States Football League, 1982-1986. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-1476667447.
  3. ^ 1983 New Jersey Generals Game-by-Game Results Retrieved December 30, 2018
  4. ^ 1983 USFL Season Retrieved December 30, 2018
  5. ^ 1983 New Jersey Generals (USFL) Retrieved December 30, 2018
  6. ^ a b c d Pearlman, Jeff (2018). Football For A Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0544454385.
  7. ^ 1984 New Jersey Generals Game-by-Game Results Retrieved December 30, 2018
  8. ^ 1984 USFL Season Retrieved December 30, 2018
  9. ^ 1984 New Jersey Generals (USFL) Retrieved December 30, 2018
  10. ^ 1985 New Jersey Generals Game-by-Game Results Retrieved December 30, 2018
  11. ^ 1985 USFL Season Retrieved December 30, 2018
  12. ^ 1985 New Jersey Generals (USFL) Retrieved December 30, 2018