1985

January
14 - Commissioner Chet Simmons resigns at the request of team owners.

15 - Harry Lester Usher, former Executive Vice President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee.

25 - The New Jersey Generals sign rookie quarterback Doug Flutie, the third consecutive Heisman Trophy recipient to be signed by a USFL club.

March
4 - In an event that at a glance appeared to have little to do with the operation of a professional football league but would in fact have a devastating impact, a Fort Lauderdale company, ESM Government Securities is raided by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the product of an investigation into government securities fraud.  Its principals would be arrested, among them Stephen Arky, minority owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits and son-in-law of Birmingham Stallions majority owner Marvin Warner.

9 - The fraud's discovery would impact financial institutions throughout the country.  Most impacted would be Home State Savings Bank - the bank Warner owned.  After a run on the bank that resulted in over $100 million being withdrawn in a matter of days, the State of Ohio closes Home State.

28 - Birmingham Stallions owner Marvin Warner advises the league office and team president Jerry Sklar that he is no longer able to financially support the team.  Sklar reports that while Warner's withdrawal won't result in the franchise folding immediately, additional money will be needed to get it through the already underway 1985 season.  The league office pulls out the $1.5 million letter of credit posted by Warner back in 1983 to address just such a situation... only to realize the backer of that letter of credit was Home State Savings Bank.

April
22 - The Birmingham City Council approves a $1 million financial package to help keep the Birmingham Stallions operating through the end of the 1985 season.  $900,000 of these funds represent a revolving line of credit, provided at 10% interest.  The remaining $100,000 represents an investment in limited partnership units of the franchise, making the city part owner of the team.

29 - At league meetings in New York, the USFL's owners revisit their decision to play in the fall vs. the spring, reaffirming their commitment to playing a fall schedule beginning in 1986 by a 12-2 vote.  Denver and Tampa Bay vote "no," after which Bandits owner John Bassett states his team will withdraw from the league after the 1985 season.

May
17 - The ABC-USFL relationship, strained since before the league had even played its first game, completely breaks down as the league files a $7 million lawsuit against the network, claiming breach of contract; this following ABC's withholding one third of its $14 million 1985 rights payment for failing to maintain a franchise in Chicago as stipulated in the deal.  The following day, the parties agree to address the matter by binding arbitration rather than suit.

July
14 - In the 1985 USFL Championship Game, the Baltimore Stars come from behind to defeat the Oakland Invaders, 28-24.  It would be the final game the league would ever play.

19 - Birmingham Stallions running back Joe Cribbs, desiring to return to the NFL, buys out his contract for $750,000.  The Stallions would use some of this money to pay off debts while seeking investors to keep the franchise alive.

31 - The Houston Gamblers are acquired by future Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, and immediately merged into the New Jersey Generals.  Ross and Generals owner Donald Trump each are to own 50% of the combined club, with the Gamblers management (including former majority Jerry Argovitz) operating the team.

 

October
31 - At league owners meetings in Memphis, nine franchises (Arizona, Baltimore, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Memphis, New Jersey, Orlando, Portland and Tampa) each post new, $500,000 letters of credit as a means of pledging their intent to play in the fall of 1986.

 

December
4 - The USFL's attorney in USFL v. NFL, Harvey Myerson, meets with his NFL counterpart (and future commissioner) Paul Tagliabue.  During the meeting the USFL offers a settlement to the suit, proposing that the older league absorb two USFL franchises and operate the remaining ones as a stand-alone, spring season developmental league.  Tagliabue tells Myerson he'll take the offer to his clients.

11 - The NFL's response to the USFL's overture comes in the form of a press release, announcing that the NFL had no interest whatsoever in a merger, or in settling the litigation between the leagues.

1985 Home Attendance Averages

  1. 45,220 - Tampa Bay Bandits
  2. 44,325 - Jacksonville Bulls
  3. 41,268 - New Jersey Generals
  4. 35,000 - League Founder David Dixon's Third Season Projection
  5. 32,065 - Birmingham Stallions
  6. 30,948 - Memphis Showboats
  7. 24,375 - League Average
  8. 24,136 - Orlando Renegades
  9. 19,919 - Portland Breakers
  10. 19,120 - Houston Gamblers
  11. 17,881 - Arizona Outlaws
  12. 17,509 - Oakland Invaders
  13. 14,446 - Denver Gold
  14. 14,275 - Baltimore Stars
  15. 11,721 - San Antonio Gunslingers
  16. 8,415 - Los Angeles Express

1985 Television Rating Averages

  • ABC - 4.1, or 3.44 million viewers.
  • ESPN - 2.0 rating points, or 1.66 million viewers.