Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Philadelphia Stars, USFL Champions

Professional football has had its share of ups and downs in Philadelphia since arriving in the 1920's, but only one franchise can claim it is the last to bring a gridiron championship to the city -- and it was 30 years ago and not 54 as the official record might show.

On this night, in 1984 at Tampa Stadium, the Philadelphia Stars topped the Arizona Wranglers by a 23-3 count in front of 52,662 spectators to claim the second of only three USFL titles in the league's brief, stormy existence.

Led by future Saints and Colts head coach Jim Mora, Sr., the Stars participated in all three USFL championship contests -- losing the first to Mora's future starting quarterback Bobby Hebert and the Michigan Panthers, winning in '84 against former Redskins coach George Allen, then topping Hebert again as he drifted to the Oakland Invaders while the club called Baltimore home in 1985.

Below, the full ABC broadcast from the night of July 15, 1984:

Between the Eagles' desultory performance in a 27-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV and their 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, this was the lone oasis of stellar football that Delaware Valley fans could cling to, if old enough to remember.

Philadelphia posted the best record in the league at 16-2-0, won the Eastern Division by two games over Herschel Walker and the New Jersey Generals, then beat the General and Birmingham Stallions in home playoff games before dispatching Arizona for the title. Its 19 combined wins in the regular season and playoffs still stands as a professional record.

Former Penn State QB Chuck Fusina passed for 3,837 yards and 31 touchdowns against nine interceptions in 18 games, drawing a league-best 104.7 passer rating. Kelvin Bryant finished 61 yards short of a rushing title, ending up second to Joe Cribbs with 1,406 while crossing into the end zone 13 times.

For a brief snapshot of the Stars' tenure and impact, hit the link
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