1986

January
9 - Commissioner Harry Usher suffers a heart attack and undergoes emergency surgery.  He ultimately recovers.

February
19 - At league meetings in New York, Commissioner Harry Usher announces that the Denver Gold have been merged into the Jacksonville Bulls, the Portland Breakers have withdrawn the $500,000 letter of credit posted three months earlier and folded.  The eight teams to compete in its fall 1986 season:  Arizona, Baltimore, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Memphis, New Jersey, Orlando and Tampa Bay.  The league also awards the 1986 USFL Championship Game, scheduled for February 1, 1987, to Jacksonville's Gator Bowl.  The Bulls earn this honor by being the only one to bid on it.

April
18 - 
The Arizona Outlaws execute a 30 year lease to use Sun Devil Stadium as the site for its home games.  Included in the provisions of the agreement is one stipulating that if the Outlaws relocate to any other stadium, in Phoenix or elsewhere, the team is responsible for a $1 million annual penalty payment through 2016.

24 - United States District Judge Peter K. Leisure denies several pre-trial motions in USFL v. NFL and sets the trial date for May 12.  Among the points Leisure rules on are:

  • A summary judgment in favor of the USFL, dismissing it
  • Denying the USFL's claim that the NFL was illegally monopolizing the supply of available quality game officials
  • Denying the USFL's claim that the NFL had illegally coerced stadium operators from providing USFL team operators with leases under similar terms (this despite in one instance - San Diego - not one but two USFL owners would be forced to relocate their franchises due to outright denial of a lease for Jack Murphy Stadium, primarily based on a complaint by the NFL's Chargers that a USFL team could harm the turf there (despite baseball's Padres playing on the same surface 81 times a year).

May
12 - The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and judge Peter K. Leisure officially open the proceedings in "United States Football League, Arizona Outlaws, Baltimore Stars Football Associates, Birmingham Stallions, Ltd., Chicago USFL Limited Partnership, Chicago Football Franchise Limited Partnership, Denver Gold Sports, Inc., Houston Gamblers, Ltd., IMI Express, Inc., Jax Professionals, Inc., LAEFC, Ltd., Memphis Showboats, Ltd., Football Generals, Inc., Bay Area Football Partners, Ltd., Breakers Limited Partnership, South Texas Sports, Inc., and Orlando Football Partners, Inc., (plantiffs) v. National Football League, the Five Smiths, Inc., Indianapolis Colts, Inc., Buffalo Bills, Inc., Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc., Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., Cleveland Browns, Inc., Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Inc., Rocky Mountain Empire Sports, Inc., Detroit Lions, Inc., Green Bay Packers, Inc., Houston Oilers, Inc., Los Angeles Rams Football Company, Minnesota Vikings Football Club, Inc., New England Patriots Football Club, Inc., New Orleans Saints Louisiana Partnership, New York Football Giants, Inc., New York Jets Football Club, Inc., the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club, Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc., St. Louis Football Cardinals Company, Chargers Football Company, San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd., Tampa Bay Area NFL Football, Inc., Pro-Football, Inc., Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Inc., Miami Dolphins, Ltd., Seattle Professional Football, and Alvin R. Rozelle (defendants; commonly referred to as simply "USFL v. NFL").

August
4 -
Following a seven-hour owners meeting, Commissioner Harry Usher announces that the United States Football League has suspended operations and would not play the fall 1986 season, scheduled to begin in six weeks.