The USFL - The Rebel League
Jim Mora was the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots when the Philadelphia Stars came calling.
Initially, George Perles was the coach of the Stars, but he left to coach Michigan State before training camp started. The Stars’ GM Carl Peterson turned to the 47-year-old Mora to lead the franchise after flirting with Penn State's Joe Paterno. “I really didn’t know anything about the USFL," says Mora 23 years later from his home in Palm Springs, California.
The Patriots were in the thick of the playoff hunt, and Mora didn’t want to lose focus of his job at hand. After the Patriots lost to the Dolphins in the first-round of the playoffs, Peterson convinced Mora and his wife, Connie, to come down to Philly and talk about coaching the Stars. “ I wasn’t really interested, but I had nothing to lose,” says Mora, who accepted the job. “I was really impressed with their[Stars] organization, the players, and ownership.
Peterson offered Mora the job two weeks before training camp started in Florida. “ I didn’t have a coaching staff, players, nothing,” says Mora. “ I had to interview coaches after the training camp started.” Mora was getting to know some of his staff on the flight down to training camp in DeLand, Florida. Despite the lack of preparation time, the Philadelphia Stars won a league-best 15 games in 1983.
Initially, USFL teams had to make due with what was available to them in terms of facilities. “We had to practice on a gravel parking lot a few times because of the heavy rain in Florida,” says Mora. “We took old-yellow school buses to scrimmage against other teams that had their camp in Florida.”
Mora, like many who coached and played in the USFL, was pleasantly surprised by the talent in the new league. “The USFL’s talent never got the credit it deserved, ” he says. “The NFL would never recognize it as a good league because we were the competition.”