1983: Of the 12 original USFL franchise locations, the city of Birmingham had an experience with an upstart football league challenging the NFL, as they had a successful team in the World Football League nearly a decade earlier. Playing their games at historic Legion Field, the Birmingham Stallions coached by Rollie Dotsch were a late forming team as they signed or claimed approximately 20 players via trades or waivers in the week prior to their first game. Hosting the Michigan Panthers in the first Monday Night game the Stallions were hardly a cohesive unit as they lost 9-7 on their way to a 2-5 start. In Week 8, backup Bobby Lane replaced the struggling Reggie Collier at quarterback, and led the Stallions to a 21-9 win over the Oakland Invaders, sparking a five-game winning streak. However, running up against some of the best teams in the league, Birmingham struggled down the stretch losing four of five, before ending the season with a 29-17 win over the Tampa Bay Bandits, to finish the year at 9-9. The Stallions were the top rushing team in the league as they rotated ball carriers and gained 3,012 yards with Ken Talton leading the way with 907 yards and five touchdowns. The passing attack meanwhile struggled as the Stallions were one of the worst passing offenses in the USFL.
1984: After finishing .500 in their first season, the Birmingham Stallions were one of the most improved teams in the USFL’s second season thanks to the addition former NFL Quarterback Cliff Stoudt, who had been Terry Bradshaw’s backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Joe Cribbs who had been a top running back with the Buffalo Bills, full back Leon Perry, defensive end Dave Pureifory and CFL cornerback Ricky Ray. Despite losing the season opener to the New Jersey Generals at home 17-6, the Stallions came racing out of the gate, capturing their next nine games. After suffering a 43-11 setback to the Philadelphia Stars, the Stallions would win five of their next six games to clinch first place in the Southern Division. The Stallions would end the season with a 17-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits to finish the season with a record of 14-4. All off the Stallions additions played a big role, is their rise to the playoffs. Joe Cribbs, was the USFL’s top rushers with 1,467 yards and eight touchdowns, while Leon Perry bruised his way to 774 yards with 13 touchdowns. The biggest difference was Birmingham’s improved passing game, which saw Cliff Stoudt pass for 3,121 yards with 21 touchdowns. In one game Stoudt was pelted by snowballs by angered Pittsburgh fans as the he led the Stallions to 30-18 win over the expansion Pittsburgh Maulers at Three Rivers Stadium.
1984 USFL Playoffs: After losing the regular season finale to the Tampa Bay Bandits, the Birmingham Stallions faced their division rivals a week later in the playoff opener at Legion Field, with 32,000 in attendance. With Joe Cribbs running for 112 yards, the Stallions were in control all day as they beat the Bandits 36-17 to advance to the USFL semifinals. Cribbs scored once, while Cliff Stoudt had a pair of quarterback sneaks to get in the endzone, with Danny Miller nailing five field goals. In the USFL Semifinals the Stallions would face the Philadelphia Stars at Franklin Field, as Veterans Stadium was unavailable due to a Philadelphia Phillies game. Forced to walk for the Vet to Franklin Field, the Stallions were out of sync early as the Stars defense smothered the Stallions forcing a pair of turnovers to build a 20-0 lead at the half. The Stallions would get on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but it was too late as the Stars held to win 20-10 and advanced to the USFL Championship Game, where they would defeat the Arizona Wranglers.
1985: After a solid season, the Birmingham Stallions enter the USFL’s third season with nearly the same roster, though one upgrade they attempted to make was at the Wide Receiver position by drafting Jerry Rice out of Mississippi Valley State. However, the Stallions could not reach a deal with Rice who chose to play in the NFL, where he became the greatest pass catcher in NFL history with the San Francisco 49ers. The Stallions played well early, beating the New Jersey Generals at Legion Field to spoil Doug Flutie’s debut 38-28 as they won five of their first six games. A midseason slump would see the Stallions lose three of five games, but it was the only blemish on an otherwise terrific season as the Stallions were the top team in the Eastern Conference, posting a record of 13-5, as Rollie Dotsch was named Coach of the Year. Joe Cribbs again had a solid season, rushing for 1,047 yards with seven touchdowns while Cliff Stoudt had a strong season passing for 3,358 yards with 34 touchdowns. On defense Chuck Clanton, made history, with 16 interceptions a professional football record.
1985 USFL Playoffs: In the postseason, the Birmingham Stallions with second best overall record in the USFL, faced the high-powered offense of the Houston Gamblers. The Stallions kept Jim Kelly under warps in the first half, building a10-0 lead. In the third quarter Houston made their surge taking the lead 17-16. The Stallions regained the lead on a 57-yard Field Goal by Danny Miller, the Gamblers would get the lead back in the fourth quarter. With two minutes left Miller nailed his fifth Field Goal of the game to give the Stallions a 22-20 lead that would stand up as they returned to the USFL Semifinals for a second straight season. The Stallions would find a familiar foe as they hosted the Baltimore Stars with a trip to the USFL Championship on the line. Once again, the Stallions no answer for the Stars, as Baltimore used the big play to build a 28-0 lead as Jonathan Sutton return a Cliff Stoudt pass 39 yards to open the scoring, while Kelvin Bryant had pair of long touchdown plays.
1986: Though leery of the move from spring football to take on the NFL, the Birmingham Stallions were one of eight teams preparing for the USFL’s first fall season, when the season was postponed as the league await the verdict in its monopoly lawsuit against the NFL. While the USFL won the case, the $1 jury award in damages would seal the USFL’s fate as the league ceased operations.
©MMXVII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the United States Football League. This site is not affiliated with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were fromChris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page
Page created on January 11, 2017. Last updated on January 11, 2017 at 11:00 pm ET.