"It was a madhouse out there," says Derek Holloway 35 years later in February 2018. "They stormed the field, they tore down the goal posts, it was great."
USFL - The Rebel League Copyright 2007
The Panthers were one of the league’s most popular teams with QB Bobby Hebert and WR Anthony Carter out of the University Michigan. More than 60,000 fans showed up to watch the Panthers win a playoff game in 1983 and stormed the field after Michigan beat Oakland to earn a birth in the first USFL championship game.
Hebert remembers coach Jim Stanley would always try inspire the team with sayings like: “I don’t want no dogs that won’t hunt,” meaning he wanted his players to attack. Stanley had a great mix of young talent that would make the NFL once the USFL folded, and a bunch of seasoned NFL veterans on his ’83 championship team.
Ray Bentley, a linebacker out of
Central Michigan, remembers
there were so many players in
camp that first year, he really
didn’t have any idea of who the
other players were.
After practice, the Panthers would run two buses back to the hotel from camp, and Bentley always liked to get on the first bus so he could relax at his hotel, but this one afternoon he had to take the second bus. While the players waited for more than 20 minutes in the sweltering yellow school bus, Bentley got up and asked, “Who are we waiting for? One of the players said, 'Bobby Hebert!' I said, 'Who the hell is Bobby Hebert?'"
Bentley knew nothing about Hebert, but he knew plenty about the wide receiver Anthony Carter. Although Bentley’s dad played for Michigan State, the Michigan receiver was his favorite football player. “You look at him and he’s about 160 lbs soaking-wet, and he sounds like a bird when he talked,” says Bentley. “But he was the ‘best football player’ that I’ve ever played with. He worked harder than anybody; when the ball was in the air, he went and got it. When he got going, everyone caught that fire.”