by RJ Young
Sports writer FOX
Canton, Ohio – As Birmingham Stallion I walked on stage set up with professional speed and precision at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame, fireworks lit into the night sky to celebrate their championship win over Philadelphia stars.
It was just hours before the United States celebrated its birthday on the Fourth of July. But I can’t help but think that the stallions and their fans and American Football League They deserve applause for themselves, too.
Birmingham stallions raise the cup
The Birmingham Stallion celebrates after defeating the Philadelphia Stars to win the inaugural NFL title.
Seeing the Stallions crowned the league’s inaugural champions, the USFL became the first professional spring soccer league in three years to not only finish its first season but promise to return for a second.
This is correct. The USFL will return in 2023, bringing its eight teams minimum and likely to come with an increase in range as well.
The concept, financial system and product have worked in the field. This wasn’t the best part.
For me, the opportunity to tell stories about the players and coaches who embodied the NFL was a privilege. I have known some of these players or have covered with them for nearly a decade.
I was a fantastic writer covering football in Oklahoma when Stallions player Scooby Wright had one of the greatest seasons in college football history while in Arizona.
The five best moments of the NFL season
RJ Young reveals his five best moments from the USFL’s inaugural season. Scooby Wright and James Smith of the Birmingham Stallion made the cut. See who made the list!
I was talking about college football on YouTube when KaVontae Turpin – the New Jersey Generals’ most valuable USFL player – first demonstrated what kind of explosive player Texas Christian could be.
I remember how Michigan Panthers quarterback and former five-star recruit Shea Patterson once shook college football to its core when he announced he was leaving the Ole Miss to play Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.
Then there are the players I didn’t know and the stories I enjoyed from getting the chance to tell.
Quarterback star Kes Cocos thought he played his last game of football when he threw for more than 400 yards for Northern Arizona in a loss to Idaho. Instead, he found himself getting started in the USFL title game.
Maurice Alexander, the wide receiver for the stars, was almost not selected in the inaugural USFL Draft because he was a late entry. Star coach Bart Andros told me he was dragging his feet while on the clock for this selection, which gave his coach a chance to see a handful of plays before giving Andros the go-ahead.
Maurice Alexander and Victor Bolden Jr starred in the semi-finals
Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho share their best USFL plays from the semifinals.
That decision propelled Alexander with the stars in the NFL title game with an 87-yard kick return in the Northern Division final against the Generals, a team that beat the All-Stars twice during the regular season. The man nicknamed the “Hard Time” came in the “Win Time”.
Wright, Turpin, Patterson, Cocos and Alexander are just five examples of great talent among the more than 400 players who have played in the NFL this season. They are the rule, not the exception. Every player in the USFL can ball.
I was amazed at how many USFL players were inside the NFL premises and they were brilliant college football players.
One of them is Stallions Tailback Bo Scarbrough, who won two local titles in Alabama before winning the USFL title.
Other recipients include wide stars Deonder Overton, who won a national title in Clemson, Johnny Dixon, who won a wide title at the New Orleans Breakers, who won one in Ohio, and future generals wide, Darius Shepherd, who won three in North Dakota.
And these are just the players.
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Of the USFL coaches, four of them — Jeff Fisher, Todd Haley, Bart Andros and Kirby Wilson — have trained in the Super Bowl. Wilson owns two Super Bowl episodes as an assistant.
Of the three former college football coaches, one won a national title as an assistant (Skip Holtz) and the other as a player (Larry Fedora) and coached another Heisman winner (Kevin Sumlin).
Is Generals Mike Riley Coach of the Year in the NFL? He’s one of the great QB coaches for the past 50 years, a man who’s seen and recruited Tom Brady out of high school.
In addition to the talent of its players and coaches, the NFL has also succeeded because of its host city, Birmingham, Alabama. Hosting 40 games over 10 weeks, Magic City housed and fed NFL players, coaches and operations staff.
It was fitting that Holtz’s Stallions won the championship – and he was the first person to say so – because that was his stated goal from the start, especially given that games his hometown team featured in were routinely the best attendance.
Skip Holtz smashes USFL Championship win
Stallions coach Skip Holtz tells RJ Young what he told QB Alex McGough before the TD go-ahead, how WR made Victor Bolden Jr more involved in attack and how important Scooby Wright was throughout the inaugural USFL season.
“you know what?” Holtz told me. “The cup goes back to Birmingham. I know that a lot now.”
All of these guys have helped create the foundation for launching a spring league worthy of fireworks.
I, for example, can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for me.
RJ Young is a writer and national college football analyst for FOX Sports and host of the podcast.The #1 rated show with RJ Young. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embedand subscribe toRJ Young ShowOn YouTube. It’s not on the Step Mill.
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