Carthon remembers when Walker signed with the Cowboys in ’86, and the Giants opened up the season in Dallas in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football --Giants All Pro Middle Linebacker Harry Carson got a taste of the best running back from the USFL. “I remember him running over Harry Carson and knocking him on his back,” says Carthon with a snickering laugh. “Harry came over to me and said, ‘How come you didn’t tell me he was like that.’ I said, ‘You all were taking him for granted. When he wants to bring it, he can.’ He’s the only person I ever saw do Harry like that.”
Maurice Carthon came to the USFL out of Arkansas State, where they ran the wishbone. “The USFL gave me the opportunity to work on the skills that I didn’t have a pass receiver and blocker,” says Carthon, who had interest from the Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys, before he decided to join Herschel Walker in the backfield in New Jersey.
Despite the teams failures on the field, there was plenty of attention given to Walker. “He was the first big-name guy that gave the league credibility,’ says Carthon. “I remember when the helicopter would come to pick Herschel and whisked him away to press conferences.”
Carthon doesn’t recall the media exposure to be overwhelming for a city as big as New York. “It wasn’t too bad,” says Carthon. “We were second-class citizens in New York – behind the Giants and Jets, even-though they were struggling.”
After the 1983 season, real estate tycoon Donald Trump bought the Generals and the “Don” became a national figure. Trump, in all his decadence, opened up the vault and signed NFL veterans like QB Brian Sipe and G Dave Lapham on offense – two playoff-tested veterans from the AFC Central.
Both Walker and Carthon rushed for over 1,000 yards in ’84, as the Generals marched to the playoffs with a 14-4 record. “Brian helped me a lot,” recalls Carthon. “We ran slant-14, slant-15, the same plays Greg Pruitt would run in Cleveland.”
Trump also raided the NFL coaching ranks as well: He hired former New York Jet head coach Walt Michaels. Michaels, brought the Jets to the AFC Championship game in January of ’83, but quite after the 14-0 loss in which QB Richard Todd tossed five interceptions against the Dolphins in Miami. “He really brought credibility to the team, guys respected him and played hard for him,” says Carthon, “That’s when the team really turned around, Walt did a tremendous job of coaching.”