Sports WI: No USFL?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Sigma7, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    AH.Com sports fans often ponder: What is the USFL had succeeded?

    Good question. Worthy of examination, for certain, BUT...y'know what we never ask? (Or, maybe someone has, I'm lazy, and the search function kinda frustrates me with some of the stuff I get.)

    What if there was no USFL?

    Let's choose the most meaty POD to kick this baby off: No 1982 Players Strike.

    Mmmmmm. Smell that, pigskin fans? That's bacon.:D

    You want food for thought?

    Well, I, Sigma7, the Fairy Godmother of Sport (self proclaimed :p), just gave you a great big plate of it!:cool:

    Let's dig in with a heaping helping of just the butterflies that come from a full 1982 NFL season...

    Number 1: Which ten teams go to the playoffs and how?

    Gimmie your best guesses:

    NFC East winner:
    NFC Central winner:
    NFC West winner:
    NFC Wild Card 1:
    NFC Wild Card 2:

    AFC East winner:
    AFC Central winner:
    AFC West winner:
    AFC Wild Card 1:
    AFC Wild Card 2:

    Number 2: The rest of the league!

    Who lives? Who dies? Who learns to fly?! (Totally ripped off the old NWA/WCW promotional line for Starcade '86: Night of The Skywalkers, but TOTALLY worth it!:cool:)

    Who surprises?

    Who screws the pooch?

    Who never had a chance and pretty much lives up to OTL's failures?

    Number 3: How does it all play out?

    What are the final standings?

    Who wins in the playoffs?

    Who wins Super Bowl XVII?

    What do the franchises learn from a full '82 season that they kinda missed because they might have done a bit better in the short schedule than they would have against the full schedule?

    Number 4: The Aftermath...

    Herschel Walker: What does he do?

    Sue the league? If so, can he win? If he wins, what does that mean for the NFL's draft rules in 1983? Could the decision come down in time for the draft?

    If not, could a Supplemental Draft Bonanza happen in July or August?

    Will ALL juniors who had impressive 1982 seasons be allowed to declare?

    Will the process end up complicated enough that some do, but others don't?

    How many potential draftees will choose NOT TO declare for fear of being drafted by The Colts and Darth Irsay?

    OR...does he just go back to Georgia for his senior season possibly win another Heisman and then become the odds on favorite for #1 overall in the '84 Draft?

    If he's eligible for either the regular draft or a supplemental draft, does he spark a bidding war between Dallas, the Giants and Jets (OTL, Walker publicly stated he'd only sign with one of those three teams.) to draft him?

    Then there's OTL's slugs to consider, but consider THIS:

    In the entire history of the 16 game schedule, on one team has ever gone 16-0...and only one team has ever gone 0-16. (And it was in the same season and it TOTALLY freaked me out! It was total Twilight Zone time...:eek::D)

    Could someone other than the Colts win the Elway (and possibly Herschel Walker) Derby?

    What about some other players who, OTL, signed with the USFL, end up first round picks- and high picks at that?

    Wither Tim Spencer, Ohio St. running back who literally ran away with just about every stat that didn't involve throwing, catching or kicking the ball, tackling players carrying the ball, or fielding balls that had been kicked or punted? If he's not under contract to a pro team on draft day (like he was OTL), can he crack the 1st round? If not, where does he go? What kind of impact does it have on the draft board?

    Which USFL signees (players that were drafted by- and signed -by USFL teams, thus ending up low picks in the NFL draft as hedge bets, Spencer was one such player) would, or could, have gone higher in the 1983 draft had they been waiting for graduation on Draft Day, rather than preparing for their first pro season with the USFL?

    So hit me with your thoughts, your questions (I'm sure I didn't think of everything, give us more to chew on!) and a quick slant over the middle, that catches the safeties out of position and allows us to take the rock all the way to The House for six!(After which, I shall do a variation on the Lambeau Leap that I call the The Lone Star Leap- not terribly original, but SHUT UP!:mad::p:D...:cool:)
  2. AltSptHst Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    1. My guesses for Division winners:

    NFC East: Washington (1)
    NFC Central: Green Bay
    NFC West: San Francisco
    Wild Cards: Dallas, Atlanta

    AFC East: Miami
    AFC Central: Cincinnati (1)
    AFC West: L.A. Raiders
    Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, N.Y. Jets

    2. Final Standings

    NFC East: Washington 12-4, Dallas 11-5, St. Louis 8-8, N.Y. Giants 7-9, Philadelphia 6-10

    NFC Central: Green Bay 10-5-1, Minnesota 9-7, Tampa 8-8, Detroit 8-8, Chicago 6-10

    NFC West: San Francisco 11-5, Atlanta 10-6, New Orleans 8-8, L.A. Rams 4-12

    AFC East: Miami 11-5, N.Y. Jets 11-5, New England 9-7, Buffalo 8-8, Baltimore 2-14

    AFC Central: Cincinnati 12-4, Pittsburgh 11-5, Cleveland 8-8, Houston 1-15

    AFC West: L.A. Raiders 12-4, San Diego 10-6, Kansas City 8-8, Seattle 7-9, Denver 5-11

    NFL Playoffs

    Wild Card

    AFC: Steelers over Jets
    NFC: Cowboys over Falcons

    Divisional Round

    AFC: Steelers over Raiders, Bengals over Dolphins
    NFC: 49ers over Cowboys, Redskins over Packers

    Conference Title Games

    AFC: Bengals over Steelers
    NFC: Redskins over 49ers

    Super Bowl XVII: Redskins 24, Bengals 17 (John Riggins MVP)

    Tell me what you think, and I will do more later.
  3. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    I think there's only one team I think would do worse than you project: Seattle. They had no running game, mainly due to Sherman Smith's legs finally wearing out.

    Unless they traded for a solution (especially after his putrid Week 2 against Houston) I think the Seahawks end up possibly a game better than Denver.

    Unless you have Seattle winning at Mile High as per OTL in your projection, because if they play the full season, by the time that game comes up (where was the Seattle @ Denver game on the original, pre-strike schedule?) I think Denver has a good shot to beat them.

    So, depending, I think Seattle and Denver probably both finish 6-10, splitting the home and home.

    That...and I think Dallas has a late season collapse like they did in '83, only a year sooner. That shortened schedule and time off gave some of the more creaky parts on the defense time to rest up for a sprint. They actually started to teeter at the end of the '82 season OTL, with back-to-back losses against the Eagles and Vikings to close out the season, then the near misses against Tampa and Green Bay in the playoffs, before finally getting dropped by the Skins in the NFC Championship...I think Dallas could have fallen victim to a late season collapse a year sooner than OTL. If I could find their full season sched from '82, rather than the strike shortened one, I think I could pick out the games they'd lose. I think they could drop both halves of the home and home to the 'Skins, depending on where they fall on the sched. OTL, they got the home win against the 'Skins, third game back from the strike. If they're playing those games in an uninterrupted season, I think the '82 'Skins could win both. (Not that the 'Boys wouldn't put up a fight, but I think the 'Skins mo' would be too much for them to overcome in a season without a strike.)

    Other than that, pretty good projections.

    Please, by all means, continue!:cool:
  4. Tanrage Well-Known Member

    May 18, 2010
    With no USFL then maybe Jim Kelly joins the Bills immediately and the team does doesn't bottom out as badly so they lose the chance to draft Bruce Smith #1 overall. Where does he end up instead? Or is rookie Kelly unpolished enough to lead the team to a 2-14 record per our TL? then what are buffalo's chances of snagging Reggie White as well? Can you imagine the two of the on the same D-line?
  5. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    That's if Kelly's still on the board by the time Buffalo goes on the clock in the 1st round, which, if we use Alt's projection of an 8-8 finish, may not be the case, depending on tie breakers and how the draft order shakes out- and if this triggers trades that didn't happen OTL.

    The other thing is, OTL, the Bills went 8-8 in '83, (without Kelly) and that probably puts them out of the running for Reggie White in '84.

    They'll still, in all likelihood, be bad enough to go 2-14 in 1984 and still get Bruce Smith...unless they draft somebody in the '83 or '84 drafts that wasn't available OTL and that guy changes the fortunes of the team enough to make them a couple games better than OTL.

    In which case...things could get really ugly in Buffalo.:eek:
  6. AltSptHst Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    If there is no USFL, Walker probably ends up going back to Georgia, wins back to back Heismans (because he was a better back than Mike Rozier, although the Heisman voters have shown to be mentally retarded numerous times), and helps the Dawgs win their second national title in four years (they went 10-1-1 in OTL, and they did beat undefeated and #2 Texas in the Cotton Bowl without Walker in 83).

    Back to the 83 draft. I don't know if the USFL had quite as much influence over this one as it would have the next year, although it did take a few guys like Grambling WR Trumaine Johnson, Bobby Hebert, and Tim Spencer (all three may have been fringe first-rounders or second-rounders).

    Here are the first 10 picks:

    1. Houston: John Elway
    2. Baltimore: Dan Marino
    3. L.A. Rams: Eric Dickerson
    4. Denver (I will leave that alone): Chris Hinton, G-T, Northwestern
    5. Seattle (from CHI): Curt Warner, RB, Penn St
    6. Philadelphia: Michael Haddix, RB, Miss. St.
    7. Chicago (from SEA): Jimbo Covert, OT, Pitt
    8. N.Y. Giants: Billy Ray Smith, OLB, Arkansas
    9. Green Bay (from NO): Tim Lewis, CB, Pitt
    10. Buffalo: Tony Hunter, TE, Notre Dame

    BTW, Sigma, check out the Sports What Ifs thread (it is on page 4 of the after 1900 section. I posted something about Denver drafting Aaron Rodgers in 2005).
  7. packmanwiscy Only 5 degrees away from Brett Favre

    Jul 31, 2014
    Empire of Titletown
    Despite the USFL beginning operations in 1982, the roots of it goes back all the way to 1965. If that is your POD, then you see some butterflies from then

    Even if the POD is that the USFL folds after no games played and no players drafted, how would this avoid the lockout. I wwould argue that without another league to potentially draw players out of the league and rise up to challenge the NFL in popularity, the owners would be more likely to lock out the players.
  8. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    You've got Houston taking Elway a year after they drafted Andrew Luck's Dad. Do you think they'd take Elway because, TTL, they get a look at Luck a year earlier, and say "Nope. He's not it. Bring in Elway."?

    In that case, do they keep Luck "just in case..." and work with a pair of young QBs in '83, OR, do the Oilers ship Luck out before they even go to the podium to call Elway's name on draft day, there any way the Houston front office was clever enough back then to actually turn the Elway pick into a sort of 'Walker Trade'; find a team that wants Elway bad enough and then soak the willingly soaked team for the #1 pick and the right to draft Elway?

    Or was Elway just too damn tempting to lay off?

    (Bear in mind, I was a six year old girl when that draft took place, so, I really wasn't paying much attention to the finer points of sports back then.:D)

    As to the Broncs taking Rodgers, I saw that (I've got that thread subscribed) and, it's an interesting take.:cool:
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
  9. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Howabout we keep it really simple and say "The USFL is never even formed and, in spring of 1982, the NFL Players Association and the NFL find an equitable way to divide the enlarging pie that is their mutual product: The NFL."?

    I'm not interested in all the other crap. I'm handwaving it. Somehow, someway, the stars align and there is never any USFL or 1982 NFL Players Strike, and the whole thing is equitable to both sides going forward.


    Now, all that said, what do you think happens per the OP?:)
  10. AltSptHst Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    I do remember Oliver somewhat (I was 10). I don't think that he was in his son's league, let alone Elway's. If he was, Moon is a Seahawk (or maybe a Viking 10 years earlier), not an Oiler.

    Also, if there was no USFL, there may have been expansion in the 80's. There was a group in Phoenix that Bart Starr was involved with (they were going to call the team the Firebirds), and I wonder if there would have been a Indy-Pete Rozelle-Irsay menage a trois as far as the second expansion team is concerned.
  11. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    What becomes of Luck? Do you think the Oilers could get something decent in return for him? (Either prior to the '83 Draft, before the '83 season- say he looks good in camp -or after the '83 season, say, gets a few starts before Elway gets the reigns and never looks back)

    Who'd be the most likely trading partners at those points: Prior to the '83 draft (if he looked raw, but malleable in '82), before the start of the '83 season (if he looked like there was something there to work with in camp) or after the '83 season ("They were a crappy team. They took Elway, that couldn't help his confidence. Maybe he just needs a new start.")?


    Say they set expansion for the 1986 season- ten years after the previous expansion -with a team in Phoenix and one in...

    Irsay and Baltimore cannot peacefully coexist. How does the situation play out: Irsay sells the Colts after the '83 season to a local ownership group with a guarantee of an expansion team in Indy to begin play in '86? Irsay gets to take the Colts to Indy, but Baltimore is promised the second expansion team, provided they can get an ownership group in place before the Colts leave?

    What if part of the CBA is the expansion, slated for '86?

    Irsay sells the Colts to a local ownership group in exchange for a guaranteed expansion franchise in Indy, the Phoenix group receives the second expansion? (Or is Irsay keeping the Colts no matter what, and they're going to Indy no matter what?)
  12. Dunning Kruger Often Wrong But Never in Doubt

    Jul 6, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Oliver Luck was a back up. That's it. In 1983, the Oilers traded an old Ken Stabler to the Saints for an old Archie Manning. Maybe that trade doesnt go through. But wondering about Oliver Luck is like wondering about David Whitehurst...
  13. Dunning Kruger Often Wrong But Never in Doubt

    Jul 6, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Why does Marino suddenly go 2nd? Why not Blackledge, Kelly, O'Brien, or Eason?
  14. sflcat Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Hindsight! :)

    Marino was the first player taken in the USFL draft (by the L.A. Express). There are a couple of reasons Marino fell in the NFL draft. First there were rumors about drug use. Second, Marino had a poor senior season at Pitt throwing more interceptions than TDs. Baltimore coach Frank Kush wanted Isray to draft Marino at number one, but Isray didn't listen and drafted Elway, who had already said he wouldn't play for Baltimore because he didn't want to play for Kush. After watching Marino work out, new Kansas City coach John Mackovich had confided he would be drafting either him or Todd Blackledge of Penn State at number seven. Mackovich took Blackledge and was out as a NFL head coach by 1986. Buffalo liked Jim Kelly better than Dan Marino, even though Kelly had said he didn't want to play for a cold-weather team (he told his agent he didn't want to play for Green Bay, Minnesota or Buffalo). While he was negotiating his contract with the Bills, he got a call from the USFL and more or less got to pick his team. If there were no USFL, Kelly would have suited up for the Bills in 1983.

    Where some other USFL first-rounders would be in 1983...RBs Tim Spencer and Gary Anderson and WR Trumaine Johnson were drafted by San Diego, Reggie Collier was drafted by the Cowboys in the 6th (although I have a feeling he would have been moved to running back or wide receiver rather than playing quarterback, RB Craig James of SMU would have suited up for the Patriots and OL Irv Eatman would have joined Kansas City a couple of seasons earlier than they did in OTL. Wisconsin DB David Greenwood was drafted by the New Orleans Saints before opting to join the Michigan Panthers.

    If the USFL hadn't gotten off the ground, I have no doubt another pro league would have sprung up within the next five to ten years. Maybe the proposed Professional Spring Football League (PSFL) would have gotten off the drawing board and launched in 1992 if there hadn't been another spring football league that had already gone belly up before them.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
  15. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    So, once Houston takes the QB Irsay wanted, he defers to Kush and the Colts draft Marino, thus, it's probably a safe projection? Or did Irsay have another 'Not Marino' in line if he couldn't get Elway?

    It sounds like Kush would have gotten his man if the Colts were picking 2nd, when you put it that way.


    Any chance Miami tries to trade up and draft Kelly (Coming out of The U) since they'd pretty come to the realization that WoodStrock wasn't going to get it done? Could Jim Kelly pull an Elway (of sorts) and flat out refuse to sign with Buffalo, forcing a trade to a warm weather city, like, say, Miami?
  16. AltSptHst Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    In that 30 For 30 Doc, Ernie Accorsi wanted a pick in the top-10 that year for Elway because he wanted Marino. If he doesn't draft him there, he may trade down with the Seahawks or someone else, and then draft him a few picks later.
  17. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    If Seattle ends up the trade partner, moves up to #2 and has Dickerson on the board, do the Seahawks consider Dickerson over Warner for their power running back needs?

    Seattle OTL had no semblance of a running game in '82, and it's going to look even worse in a full '82 season.

    Could the pile up of games with fewer than 100 total rushing yards in a full '82 season convince Seattle to take the best runner possible?

    If Seattle has a change of heart and decides to go with the best runner possible, thus trading up to two, I figure the Colts could get the #5 pick, plus...well, depends on what the Seahawks gave da Bearsss, to trade up to #5.

    If they've still got their second rounder, Seattle's could send the #5 and their second rounder to Baltimore for the #2.

    If the Colts have enough confidence that Marino will continue to slide down the board, perhaps they could trade down one more time, and perhaps grab another second rounder to add to their profit from the pick?
  18. AltSptHst Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    I don't think that Accorsi would have traded down again because in that doc, he insisted on having a top-10 selection to get Marino.

    And, as for the Hawks, Knox may not have liked Dickerson as well as Warner, which was wise because Dickerson turned out to be too greedy.
  19. Dunning Kruger Often Wrong But Never in Doubt

    Jul 6, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hard to tell how Warner's career might have turned out had he not blown out his knee in 1984. People didnt come back as strongly from those things back then. He had a nice career as it was. But it might have been special.
  20. Sigma7 Foe of The Fates

    Jul 19, 2009
    Denver, CO
    A further thought, Alt, on what you said about Elway in Houston means Moon's in Seattle; would that be a sure thing?

    I think you mentioned that once before in the other thread, that Seattle was looking at Moon, but he signed with Houston before they could land him.

    If Houston doesn't sign Moon, when does #1 arrive in Seattle and (I'm going to go out on a fairly stout limb here and say TOTALLY changes the potency of the 'Hawks offense, as he was, for one thing, a way better passer and, for another, nowhere near as prone to coughing it up as Krieg was) what does that mean for Seattle in the second half of the 1980's?

    Moon with Largent is staggering enough. If Darryl Turner can stay healthy, with Charle Young and Pete Metzelaars (if Seattle's smart enough to keep him TTL) as the tight ends, plus the hands of Curt Warner (if HE can avoid the ACL injury he suffered in Week 1 of the 1984 season- which, one wonders, if it's Moon under center, instead of Krieg, perhaps Seattle calls a pass on that play, rather than a run?) and John L. Williams out of the backfield (unless they trade for a sure handed fullback before that)...

    They'll have the offense. The D was good- probably better than the number will ever show due to all those short field situations and "GET BACK OUT THERE!" breaks between possessions that Krieg's fumbling created OTL -Denver doesn't have Elway, the Raiders were already showing cracks in their Super Bowl winning 1983 season, Air Coryell was starting to crumble as Fouts kept aging (and his injury in 1983 exposed that quite starkly) and the Chiefs were, well, the Chiefs of the 1980's, so...

    Of course, with no USFL, the 1984 draft is going to look A LOT different, and you wonder what moves all of those teams make that change everything, so...

    Just out of curiosity, without Elway, Denver's still looking for a franchise QB.

    Without the USFL, Steve Young is going into the 1984 NFL Draft.

    Could the BYU QB end up taking a short trip east to The Mile High City? Young had a sick senior season and led BYU to 11-1, the WAC championship and a 21-17 win over Missou in the Holiday Bowl and a final ranking of #7. (One wonders where BYU would have finished in the rankings if they'd managed to beat Baylor in the season opener, a shootout they lost by a mere four points...)

    How would Denver have fared in 1983 with DeBerg under center for (one would think) the entire season? Would DeBerg have solidified that spot in a full 1982 season? How would that change Denver's 1983 draft day?

    Then, there's the team that did draft Young (in the special, one time only, so nakedly targeting the USFL that Rozelle should have been too embarrassed to add 'and CFL' to the name of said draft), the Bucs, any chance they keep Doug Williams?

    Suppose the CBAs that save the 1982 season put the Bucs front office in a position where Williams becomes an unrestricted FA?

    If Williams gets a lot of interest from other teams, could the Bucs...

    I'm sorry, this is the Bucs we're talking about.

    So, where does Doug Williams end up? Another NFL team or Canada?

    Wasn't the only thing that put Williams in the USFL was the fact that he couldn't negotiate a deal with another NFL team?

    If Williams was an unrestricted FA (and even if there was a restriction, like a right to match the offer on the part of the Bucs, which we KNOW the Bucs wouldn't bother to try and match because they weren't willing to pay him one penny more than their offer OTL, so, that eliminates that snag in the program) who would have been good candidates to sign him in '83?

    Figure, the Bucs still being the Bucs, they'll still throw away their 1984 1st rounder on Jack Thompson...and thus, give the Bengals the #1 overall pick in the 1984 draft.


    The Bengals have an aging Kenny Anderson under center.

    OTL, they took Boomer in the second round of the 1984 Draft...

    Walker's the odds on #1 in '84.

    He won't play for the Bengals.

    He WILL play for: The Cowboys, Giants or Jets.

    The Giants had the #3 pick OTL, do they probably still end up with that pick TTL? If so, do they swap the #3 with Cinci and draft Walker, then...

    Do the Oilers grab Fryar to give Elway a nice target to throw to, or begin work on the defense and take Reggie White to start that process at #2?

    At #3, do the Bengals take the better of two left handed QBs, draft Young and then, SB XXIII is possibly Montana vs. Young?:eek:


    It's a frickin' butterfly swarm in here!:eek: