The N.J. Generals
"The USFL was going to be the next big thing; they signed a big contract with ABC and ESPN; the Generals were going to be the headline team in the league," says NJ Generals former broadcaster Charley Steiner.
The New Jersey Generals had the biggest stars
in Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie, but never
won a playoff game in their two appearances in
the post-season. The Generals won 14 games in '84 and 11 games in '85, but lost both years to the Mora's Stars, despite Trump spending millions on the biggest names in college and pro football. In'84, Trump brought in former NY Jets coach Walt Michaels, and QB Brian Sipe left the Cleveland Browns to hand the ball off to Walker.
Sipe was shipped to Jacksonville the following year, as the Generals signed Heisman Trophy winner Flutie before the start of the '85 season. Flutie's numbers weren't great, but like college, he found a way to win. Unfortunately for New Jersey, a shoulder injury kept out of the final three games of the season and the playoffs.
Charlie Steiner, who was the play-by-play broadcaster for the Generals reminisced fondly of the spring league: "The USFL was going to be the next big thing; they signed a big contract with ABC and ESPN; the Generals were going to be the headline team in the league."
The Generals were drawing well at the gate, and always seemed to be on the prime game on ABC or ESPN – thanks to Trump calling up and demanding that his team be on the air since it was his money that was keeping the league alive.
“The market place has something to do with that, not everyone could get Jets and Giants tickets,” says Dave Lapham, who leftthe penny-pinching Bengals to Donald Trump’s world of extravagance. Donald Trump was a flamboyant guy, a great marketer and collected Hesiman Trophy guys. When we went down south to play the Bulls and Jaguars, they had a ‘let’s knock-off the rich team mentality’”
Steiner, whose career includes play-by-play for the New York Jets, ESPN radio, Yankees, and now the Los Angeles Dodgers, says the USFL wasn't afraid to try anything new. "We had one of the first to use on-field radio reporters, something the NFL didn't allow" he says. Princeton head coach Casciola along with former Jet Sam DeLuca teamed with Charlie for the radio play-by-play broadcasts. Ironically, after the USFL folded, Steiner and DeLuca went on to be the radio pair for the Jets in 1986