When we last met, the Eagles pulled the Green Bay lead down to 13-9. The Eagles are not the only football entity to win a Championship or two in Philly. Do you remember the Philadelphia Stars? In 1983 or so, a handful, a handful if you are a Yeti, realized there was a football void after the Super Bowl and decided to tap into that market. The United States Football League or, as it was better known, the USFL was born. While it lasted just three years, they had a major television contract and some serious star power.
Showing this was not just a bar league, big names joined in the fledgling league. Big names? Who? Edward DeBartolo Sr., Kenny Rogers, Burt Reynolds, and a guy we all know. The owner of the New Jersey Generals, some guy by the name of Trump.
Here in Philadelphia, a Real Estate Mogul, Myles Tannenbaum, joined the party with a team he planned to name after Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion, the Stallions. Despite getting to the party, Tannenbaum arrived late as the Birmingham club claimed the moniker, Stallions. The USFL owners started raiding NFL rosters and their plans of draft picks.
Names such as Steve Young, Mike Rozier, Reggie White, Cliff Stoudt, Joe Cribbs, Bobby Hebert, Anthony Carter, and many others happily joined on. It didn’t stop there with big-name Coaches such as “Red Miller, Marv Levy, and even George Allen.
What About Philadelphia?
In a league stocked with marquee coaches and players, Philadelphia was right in the mix with guys, at the time, that was marginally known. Even the Coach was a new name.
After George Perles, the first coach who never coached a game bailed to Coach Michigan State, Tannenbaum, on January 15, 1983, hired his Coach. That would be none other than Jim Mora.
The Stars began to add faces. Those faces included QB- Chuck “All He Does is Win” Fusina, Bart and Brad Oates, Irv Eatman, a kicking game tandem of David Trout, and Sean Landeta. They also added tight end, Scott Fitzkee. Two break-out budding superstars, Sam Mills and Kelvin Bryant had Philadelphia fans in wonder.
How Did they Do?
A potential ominous sign. Despite it being a league that started midway through the month of March, Philadelphia kicked off the season in a blizzard. Playing “Red” Miller’s Denver Gold in Mile High Stadium, this was looking like a bad idea.
Quite the contrary. Philadelphia finished the regular season hosting a playoff game at Franklin Field against George Allen and the Chicago Blitz. Due to the configuration of the field and the locker rooms, a surreal scene unfolded. The television audience witnessed the teams walking several feet outside of the building to the field. With no direct field access from the locker room players had to walk through the public walkway to get to the field. This was not something seen with pro athletes normally.
Early in the fourth quarter, Chicago had blitzed to a 21 point lead and the fans started leaving. Those who left missed one of the greatest comebacks in, not only football but, sports history. Fusina found another gear as did the Stars defense with a comeback that ended regulation with a 38-38 score.
An overtime touchdown made the final, 44-38 and Philly was headed back to Mile High Stadium to battle the Bobby Hebert, Anthony Carter led, Michigan Panthers. Philadelphia used all their magic against Chicago and was outclassed and embarrassed.
Not enjoying the bad taste in their mouths, The Stars were on a mission in the second season of the league. Steamrolling just about everyone. They put up a .899 winning percentage on their 16-2 season.
Making it 2 for 2, the Stars had another Championship appearance. On July 15, while most of Philadelphia were enjoying a Jersey or Maryland beach, the Stars were in Tampa to take on The Arizona Wranglers with a familiar name, George Allen, coaching. This was total domination and Philly snagged the Championship with a 23-3 win. It would be the last Philadelphia Football Championship until 2017 in Super Bowl LII.
From the “Go Figure” Department
Philadelphia has defeated both Vince Lombardi and George Allen, both Super Bowl winners. After the season, the team traveled to Wembley Stadium to play an exhibition against the Tampa Bay Bandits. In the third season, playing as the Baltimore Stars, they repeated their Championship form. So, Philly inching up. Green Bay 13- Philadelphia 10.
The Philadelphia Stars return this spring. Will you be watching? With the help of the Philadelphia Stars, Philly was catching up and earning the name “Championship City.”
Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.
Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.
A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.