Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars

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Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars
Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars helmet Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars logo
Founded1983
Folded1986
Based inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
(1983–1984)
Baltimore, Maryland (1985)
Home fieldVeterans Stadium (1983–1984)
Franklin Field (1984 post season)
Byrd Stadium (1985)
LeagueUSFL
ConferenceEastern Conference
DivisionAtlantic Division (1983–84)
Eastern Division (1985)
Team HistoryPhiladelphia Stars (1983–84)
Baltimore Stars (1985)
Team colorsCrimson, Old Gold, White
              
Head coachesJim Mora (1983–85)
48–13–1 (.782)
Owner(s)Myles Tanenbaum
USFL Championships1984, 1985
Conference championships1983, 1984, 1985

The Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars were a professional American football team which played in the United States Football League (USFL) in the mid-1980s. Owned by real-estate magnate Myles Tanenbaum, they were the short-lived league's dominant team, playing in all three championship games and winning the latter two. They played their first two seasons in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Stars before relocating to Baltimore, where the played as the Baltimore Stars for the USFL's final season. Coached by Jim Mora, the Stars won a league-best 41 regular season games and 7 playoff games.

Founding[edit]

On May 11, 1982, the announcement of the USFL was officially made by league owner and antique dealer, David Dixon.[1] The league's Philadelphia team (later named as the Stars) would be owned by Myles H. Tanenbaum. George Perles was originally named as the team's head coach in July 1982. Perles, previously an assistant coach for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, never coached a game for the Stars, opting to take the head coach position for Michigan State instead. On January 15, 1983, the Stars hired Jim Mora to be their head coach.[2]

1983 season[edit]

The Stars began in Philadelphia in the USFL's inaugural 1983 season and played their home games at Veterans Stadium (the "Vet"). They compiled the league's best regular season record of 15–3 (.833), and advanced to the 1983 USFL championship game. Their "Doghouse Defense" allowed only 204 points in an 18-game season—the least in the history of the league. The Stars were led by fourth-year quarterback Chuck Fusina (1978 Heisman Trophy runner-up), fifth-year wide receiver Scott Fitzkee, rookie halfback Kelvin Bryant of North Carolina, rookie offensive tackle Irv Eatman of UCLA, rookie linebacker Sam Mills, and second-year safety Scott Woerner. The team also featured Towson's all-star rookie punter Sean Landeta. At the conclusion of the regular season, Bryant was named the USFL's Player of the Year by the Associated Press.[3]

The Stars entered the playoffs as the top-seeded team. In the Semi-Finals, the Stars were able to defeat the preseason favorites to win the 1983 title—George Allen's Chicago Blitz—by withstanding seven turnovers and erasing a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win 44–38 in overtime.[4][5] In the league title game at Denver's Mile High Stadium on July 17, the Stars were edged out by Jim Stanley's Michigan Panthers, 24–22.[6] Just as they had against the Blitz, the Stars opened the game sluggishly, but finished with a flourish, after allowing the Panthers to carry a 17–3 lead into the fourth quarter.[7][8]

1983 Philadelphia Stars schedule[edit]

Week Day Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final Score W/L Record
Regular Season
1 Sunday March 6 at Denver Gold Mile High Stadium 45,102 ABC 13–7 W 1–0
2 Sunday March 13 New Jersey Generals Veterans Stadium 38,205 ABC 25–0 W 2–0
3 Monday March 21 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 12,850 ESPN 17–10 W 3–0
4 Sunday March 27 Tampa Bay Bandits Veterans Stadium 18,718 ABC 22–27 L 3–1
5 Sunday April 3 Washington Federals Veterans Stadium 14,576 ABC 34–3 W 4–1
6 Sunday April 10 at Los Angeles Express Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 18,671 17–3 W 5–1
7 Saturday April 16 at Oakland Invaders Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 34,901 ESPN 17–7 W 6–1
8 Sunday April 24 Boston Breakers Veterans Stadium 10,257 ABC 23–16 W 7–1
9 Saturday April 30 at Tampa Bay Bandits Tampa Stadium 41,559 ESPN 24–10 W 8–1
10 Sunday May 8 Denver Gold Veterans Stadium 14,306 ABC 6–3 W 9–1
11 Sunday May 15 Chicago Blitz Veterans Stadium 25,251 ABC 31–24 W 10–1
12 Sunday May 22 at Arizona Wranglers Sun Devil Stadium 18,151 24–7 W 11–1
13 Sunday May 29 at Boston Breakers Nickerson Field 15,668 ABC 17–21 L 11–2
14 Sunday June 5 Michigan Panthers Veterans Stadium 19,727 ABC 29–20 W 12–2
15 Sunday June 12 at New Jersey Generals Giants Stadium 32,521 23–9 W 13–2
16 Monday June 20 Oakland Invaders Veterans Stadium 16,933 ESPN 12–6 W 14–2
17 Sunday June 26 Birmingham Stallions Veterans Stadium 17,973 31–10 W 15–2
18 Sunday July 3 at Washington Federals RFK Stadium 11,039 14–21 L 15–3
Playoffs
Divisional
Playoff
Saturday July 9 Chicago Blitz Veterans Stadium 15,686 ABC 44–38 OT W
USFL
Championship
Sunday July 17 vs. Michigan Panthers Mile High Stadium 50,906 ABC 22–24 L

Sources[9][10][11]

1984 season[edit]

The Stars remained in Philadelphia for the 1984 season but were forced to relocate their post-season home games to Franklin Field due to a conflict with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Stars roared through the regular season with the league best 16–2 (.889) record, and routed George Allen's Arizona Wranglers, 23–3 for the league title in Florida at Tampa Stadium on July 15.[12][13] It was the last traditional professional football championship for the city of Philadelphia until the Eagles' Super Bowl LII victory at the end of the 2017 season, and its first since the 1960 NFL championship. The Stars were also becoming increasingly popular amongst fans, as average home attendance jumped from approximately 18,000 in 1983 to 28,000 in 1984.[14]

After the league championship game, the Stars played a rare post-season exhibition game with Tampa Bay in England on July 21, and defeated the Bandits 24–21 at Wembley Stadium in London.

1984 Philadelphia Stars schedule[edit]

Week Day Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final Score W/L Record
Preseason
1 Bye
2 Bye
3 Saturday February 11 vs. New Jersey Generals Deland, Florida 20–28 L 0–1
4 Saturday February 18 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits Orlando, Florida 17–22 L 0–2
Regular Season
1 Sunday February 26 at Memphis Showboats Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 28,098 17–9 W 1–0
2 Sunday March 4 at Washington Federals RFK Stadium 12,067 17–6 W 2–0
3 Sunday March 11 at New Jersey Generals Giants Stadium 46,716 ABC 14–17 L 2–1
4 Sunday March 18 Oakland Invaders Veterans Stadium 30,284 28–7 W 3–1
5 Saturday March 24 at Pittsburgh Maulers Three Rivers Stadium 24,341 ESPN 25–10 W 4–1
6 Sunday April 1 Tampa Bay Bandits Veterans Stadium 30,270 ABC 38–24 W 5–1
7 Sunday April 8 at Arizona Wranglers Sun Devil Stadium 30,252 ABC 22–21 W 6–1
8 Sunday April 15 Chicago Blitz Veterans Stadium 17,417 41–7 W 7–1
9 Sunday April 22 at San Antonio Gunslingers Alamo Stadium 16,590 ABC 24–10 W 8–1
10 Friday April 27 New Orleans Breakers Veterans Stadium 34,011 35–0 W 9–1
11 Sunday May 6 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 49,500 ABC 43–11 W 10–1
12 Sunday May 13 Los Angeles Express Veterans Stadium 22,391 ABC 18–14 W 11–1
13 Saturday May 19 Jacksonville Bulls Veterans Stadium 33,194 ESPN 45–12 W 12–1
14 Sunday May 27 at Michigan Panthers Pontiac Silverdome 20,387 ABC 31–13 W 13–1
15 Monday June 4 Pittsburgh Maulers Veterans Stadium 30,102 ESPN 23–17 W 14–1
16 Friday June 8 at Denver Gold Mile High Stadium 30,755 21–19 W 15–1
17 Friday June 15 Washington Federals Veterans Stadium 22,582 31–8 W 16–1
18 Sunday June 24 New Jersey Generals Veterans Stadium 37,758 ABC 10–16 L 16–2
Playoffs
Divisional
Playoff
Saturday June 30 New Jersey Generals Veterans Stadium 19,038 ABC 28–7 W
Conference
Championship
Sunday July 8 Birmingham Stallions Veterans Stadium 26,616 ABC 20–10 W
USFL
Championship
Sunday July 15 vs. Arizona Wranglers Tampa Stadium 52,662 ABC 23–3 W
Postseason Exhibition
Exhibition Saturday July 21 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits Wembley Stadium,
London, England
21,000 ESPN 24–21 W

Sources[15][16][17]

Relocation to Baltimore[edit]

The league's owners, led by Donald Trump of the New Jersey Generals, voted to move play to the fall following the 1985 season. The Stars quickly realized they could not compete with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. Years later, Tanenbaum said that even without the daunting prospect of going head-to-head with the Eagles, the Stars would have had to start the 1986 season on an extended road trip due to the Phillies sharing Veterans Stadium as well. Had the Phillies advanced to the World Series, the Stars would not be able to play a home game until November at the earliest. With no other stadium in the Philadelphia area suitable even for temporary use, Tanenbaum moved the team to Baltimore, which was still smarting from the loss of the NFL Colts three years earlier.[18][19]

Baltimore welcomed the Stars with open arms. Tanenbaum quickly signed a broadcasting deal with Baltimore's most powerful radio station, WBAL, and built a good relationship with then-mayor William Donald Schaefer. However, he ran into a problem when he discovered that the Stars could not play at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium until 1986 due to objections from Baltimore Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams. Reportedly, general manager Hank Peters and manager Joe Altobelli were concerned about the Stars tearing up the turf.[19] With no other stadium in the immediate Baltimore area suitable for temporary use, Tanenbaum was forced to play at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium in College Park, 29 miles (47 km) southwest of Baltimore and a Washington suburb (coincidentally, the Washington USFL franchise, the Federals, moved to Orlando as the Orlando Renegades the same season). This was all compounded by the Washington Redskins' success during these years which included playing in the Super Bowl in January 1983 and 1984. Further complicating matters, the team kept its operations in Philadelphia and commuted to College Park for games—effectively consigning the Stars to 18 road games for the league's lame-duck spring season.[20]

1985 season[edit]

At least in part due to all the moving, the Stars initially struggled in 1985, but won nine of their last 13 games to secure a wild-card berth. They did so in front of a mostly empty Byrd Stadium, however. While Baltimore-area fans were happy to see the return of pro football after a two-year absence, they balked at making the 35-minute drive down Interstate 95 to see the Stars play in College Park. Most were waiting for the team to begin play in the city's venerable Memorial Stadium a year later.

As a result, attendance sagged to the point that the Stars might have lost home-field advantage for the playoffs even with a winning record. ABC Sports, embarrassed at the dwindling attendance from around the league, told Usher it did not want to televise playoff games in near-empty stadiums. Since ABC had disproportionate influence on league affairs due to the structure of its contract with the USFL, Usher had little choice but to agree. However, the Stars managed to upend the favored New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions in successive weeks to reach the title game at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Once there, the Stars won the USFL title beating the Bobby Hebert-led Oakland Invaders, 28–24.[21][22]

As it turned out, this was the final USFL game ever played. On July 29, 1986, a federal grand jury found in favor of the USFL in its antitrust suit against the NFL. However, the USFL was only awarded $1 in damages, tripled to $3 under antitrust law.[23][24] The jury foreman explained that while they agreed the NFL was a monopoly, they could not agree on the size of the award. As a result, the jury misinterpreted the law and decided on the $1 award feeling it would be changed by the presiding judge. However, the judge was not able to increase the amount once it was stipulated by the jury. As a result, the league suspended operations a day later, never to return.

1985 Baltimore Stars schedule[edit]

Week Day Date Opponent Game site Attendance Television Final Score W/L Record
Preseason
1 Saturday February 2 vs. Orlando Renegades Spec Martin Stadium, Deland, Florida 300 10–16 L 0–1
2 Saturday February 9 vs. Memphis Showboats Winter Haven, Florida 14–9 W 1–1
3 Saturday February 16 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits Charlotte, North Carolina 20,000 WTOG 26–28 L 1–2
Regular Season
1 Sunday February 24 at Jacksonville Bulls Gator Bowl Stadium 51,045 14–22 L 0–1–0
2 Sunday March 3 at Oakland Invaders Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 20,495 17–17 OT T 0–1–1
3 Saturday March 9 at Memphis Showboats Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 37,466 ESPN 19–21 L 0–2–1
4 Sunday March 17 New Jersey Generals Byrd Stadium 31,026 ABC 29–9 W 1–2–1
5 Sunday March 24 Birmingham Stallions Byrd Stadium 14,529 3–7 L 1–3–1
6 Sunday March 31 at Houston Gamblers Houston Astrodome 24,166 ABC 27–14 W 2–3–1
7 Sunday April 7 at Los Angeles Express Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 5,637 ABC 17–6 W 3–3–1
8 Sunday April 14 Memphis Showboats Byrd Stadium 15,728 ABC 10–13 L 3–4–1
9 Sunday April 21 Portland Breakers Byrd Stadium 14,832 26–17 W 4–4–1
10 Sunday April 28 at Tampa Bay Bandits Tampa Stadium 41,226 14–29 L 4–5–1
11 Sunday May 5 Arizona Outlaws Byrd Stadium 14,432 24–19 W 5–5–1
12 Sunday May 12 at New Jersey Generals Giants Stadium 34,446 ABC 3–10 L 5–6–1
13 Friday May 17 at Orlando Renegades Florida Citrus Bowl 23,121 ESPN 34–21 W 6–6–1
14 Sunday May 26 San Antonio Gunslingers Byrd Stadium 8,633 28–10 W 7–6–1
15 Sunday June 2 Jacksonville Bulls Byrd Stadium 9,663 ABC 17–12 W 8–6–1
16 Saturday June 8 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 24,300 ESPN 7–14 L 8–7–1
17 Saturday June 15 Orlando Renegades Byrd Stadium 6,988 41–10 W 9–7–1
18 Sunday June 23 Tampa Bay Bandits Byrd Stadium 12,647 38–10 W 10–7–1
Playoffs
Quarterfinals Monday July 1 at New Jersey Generals Giants Stadium 26,982 20–17 W
Semifinals Sunday July 7 at Birmingham Stallions Legion Field 23,250 ABC 28–14 W
USFL
Championship
Sunday July 14 vs. Oakland Invaders Giants Stadium 49,263 ABC 28–24 W

Sources[25][26][27][28][29]

Legacy[edit]

The Stars are widely acknowledged to have been the best team to see the field in USFL history.

The Stars won 41 of 54 regular-season games and were 7–1 in the postseason. For the team's entire run, they were coached by Jim Mora (Sr), who later became a head coach in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Mora was actually the Stars' second choice; Tannenbaum originally hired Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator George Perles, but Perles opted instead to take the open job at his alma mater, Michigan State.

Carl Peterson, who later became the president/general manager/chief executive officer of the Kansas City Chiefs, served as the team's General Manager for all three seasons.

Sean Landeta and Sam Mills both also had successful careers in the NFL. Landeta was one of the top punters in the NFL for two decades, and was the last former USFL player still active in the NFL at the time of his retirement in 2006. Mills had a sterling career with the Saints (alongside Mora) and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers retired Mills' No. 51 jersey after his death from cancer in 2005.

Landeta and Bart Oates were also teammates with the New York Giants. Oates signed with the Giants in 1985. Both Oates and Landeta went on to win a combined five Super Bowl rings throughout their NFL careers. Both won two rings apiece with the Giants in 1986 and 1990, while Oates earned an additional ring with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994. Oates was selected to five Pro Bowls during his career and to the UPI All-NFC team three times. He was extremely durable, starting 125 consecutive games during his Giants career.

Single-season leaders[edit]

Rushing Yards: 1470 (1983), Kelvin Bryant, 1406 (1984), Kelvin Bryant, 1207 (1985), Kelvin Bryant

Receiving Yards: 731 (1983), Scott Fitzkee, 1895 (1984), Scott Fitzkee, 882 (1985), Scott Fitzkee

Passing Yards: 2718 (1983), Chuck Fusina, 3837 (1984), Chuck Fusina, 3496 (1985), Chuck Fusina

Interceptions: 8 (1983), Scott Woerner, 7 (1984), Mike Lush, 10 (1985) Mike Lush

Sacks: 8.5 (1983), Don Fielder, 6 (1984) George Cooper, 10 (1985) John Walker

Season-by-season results[edit]

Season W L T Finish Playoff results
Philadelphia Stars
1983 15 3 0 1st Atlantic Division Won Divisional Playoff (Chicago)
Lost USFL Championship (Michigan)
1984 16 2 0 1st Atlantic Division Won Divisional Playoff (New Jersey)
Won Eastern Conference Championship (Birmingham)
Won USFL Championship (Arizona)
Baltimore Stars
1985 10 7 1 4th Eastern Conference Won Divisional Playoff (New Jersey)
Won Eastern Conference Championship (Birmingham)
Won USFL Championship (Oakland)
Totals 48 13 1 (including playoffs)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.usflsite.com/history.php
  2. ^ http://usflrevisited.webs.com/phi.htm
  3. ^ http://usflrevisited.webs.com/standingsawards.htm
  4. ^ Jauss, Bill (July 10, 1983). "Blitz has big fall off 21-point perch". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 3.
  5. ^ Zonca, Tony (July 10, 1983). "Blitz sees Stars in comeback". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). p. 73.
  6. ^ Jauss, Bill (July 18, 1983). "Michigan has magic touch in USFL title game". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 4.
  7. ^ Domowitch, Paul (July 18, 1983). "A final rally for title not in Stars". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Knight-Ridder. p. 17.
  8. ^ Lowitt, Bruce (July 18, 1983). "Panthers tops stars for crown". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. 13.
  9. ^ statscrew.com 1983 Philadelphia Stars Game-by-Game Results
  10. ^ usflsite.com 1983 USFL Season
  11. ^ profootballarchives.com 1983 Philadelphia Stars (USFL)
  12. ^ Jauss, Bill (July 16, 1984). "Stars strangle Allen's Wranglers". Chicago Tribune. p. 5, sec. 3.
  13. ^ "No denying Stars this time". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. July 16, 1984. p. 1B.
  14. ^ http://www.usflsite.com/stars.php
  15. ^ statscrew.com 1984 Philadelphia Stars Game-by-Game Results
  16. ^ usflsite.com 1984 USFL Season
  17. ^ profootballarchives.com 1984 Philadelphia Stars (USFL)
  18. ^ "Stars move to Baltimore". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 2, 1984. p. 3C.
  19. ^ a b Reeths, Paul (2017). The United States Football League, 1982-1986. McFarland & Company. ISBN 1476667446.
  20. ^ https://www.phillyhistory.org/blog/index.php/2014/06/the-philadelphia-stars-philadelphias-other-pro-football-team/
  21. ^ "Bryant helps Stars keep USFL title". July 15, 1985. p. 5, sec. 3.
  22. ^ "Stars win last spring USFL title". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. July 15, 1985. p. C1.
  23. ^ Smith, Sam (July 30, 1986). "A tough victory for USFL". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 4.
  24. ^ "The verdict: USFL wins, and loses". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. July 30, 1986. p. 1B.
  25. ^ statscrew.com 1985 Baltimore Stars Game-by-Game Results
  26. ^ usflsite.com 1985 USFL Season
  27. ^ profootballarchives.com 1985 Baltimore (USFL)
  28. ^ Anonymous, "Baltimore 10 at Orlando 16 (Deland, FL)," Associated Press, February 2, 1985. Retrieved December 16, 2018
  29. ^ Lorenz, Rich, "The New Jersey Generals have offered tackle...," Chicago Tribune, February 3, 1985. Retrieved December 15, 2018

External links[edit]