1983: The Chicago Blitz entered the USFL’s inaugural season as the favorite to win the championship. Owned by renowned heart surgeon Dr. Ted Diethrich, along with legendary coach George Allen and Southern California developer Bill Harris as minority partners the Blitz had a roster full of NFL veterans. The name Blitz was chosen after a name that team contest, with George Allen looking for a short but aggressive sounding name. George Allen returned to Washington for the start of the USFL season, leading the Blitz to a 28-7 win over the Federals. After losing their following game to the Arizona Wranglers 30-20, the Blitz struggled again in their home opener losing to the Denver Gold 16-13. However, the biggest disappointment came in the stands, as only 22,600 fans were in attendance at Soldier Field. The Blitz would turn things around winning their next three games and six of their next seven games. However, fans in the Windy City continued to ignore football in the spring, as they had to compete against two baseball teams and the overwhelming shadow of the Chicago Bears, with the addition of NBA and NHL teams creating a full market which made the USFL a tough sell. On the field the Chicago Blitz were a success, as they finished tied for first in the Central Division with a record of 12-6, though settled for the Wild Card after losing two games to the Michigan Panthers. Kit Lathrop a top pass rusher and run stopper was named the USFL’s Outstanding Lineman of the Year. The Blitz had one of the league’s best passing games as Greg Landry and Bobby Scott each had strong seasons, with Trumaine Johnson leading the league in receiving yards with 1,322 yards with ten touchdowns.
1983 USFL Playoffs: Facing the Philadelphia Stars at Veterans Stadium in the USFL Semifinals the Chicago Blitz dominated the game early, taking a 21-7 lead at the half as they forced four turnovers from Quarterback Chuck Fusina. The Blitz looked well on their way to advancing to the USFL Championship Game as they continued to dominate in the third quarter, eventually building a 38-17 lead. However, Fusina who found his rhythm in the fourth quarter tossing three touchdown passes in the final nine minutes to tie the game 38-38. The Stars would win the game 44-38 on a one yard touchdown plunge 7:02 into overtime to reach the first USFL title game, where they would fall to the Michigan Panthers.
1984: Despite their success on the field, the Chicago Blitz were a failure at the box office as they ranked at the bottom of the USFL in attendance, costing owner Dr. Ted Diethrich millions. A deal was made before the second season that would throw into question the legitimacy of the USFL into question as Dr. Diethrich and Arizona native made a deal with Arizona Wranglers owner James Hoffman to swap teams. The Wranglers had been of the worst teams in the USFL’s first season, while the Blitz one of the best. With the exchange the two franchises completely swapped with the players and coaches of the Wranglers all becoming members of the Chicago Blitz and vice versa. In an attempt to get more fans, the Blitz attempted to lure Walter Payton away from the Chicago Bears, but on the verge of becoming the NFL’s All-Time leading rusher Payton turned down a three-year deal worth $2 million. It was for the best as the Blitz lacked the finances to make good on the contract offer. Frustrated by the Blitz lack of ticket sales and the ability to sign players, James Hoffman stepped away as the league took over the day to day operation of the Chicago Blitz franchise. The Blitz were also hurt by the expansion draft as four teams were added. Already one of the worst teams in the league there was little Coach Marv Levy could do to keep the Blitz from suffering a terrible 5-13 season as attendance became a league wide embarrassment as they averaged 7,500 fans per game, including drawing just 4,307 fans during a 21-17 loss to the New Jersey Generals on Memorial Day Weekend. As the season came to a close, the Blitz announced they would shut down with Chicago White Sox minority owner Eddie Einhorn getting the rights to an expansion team.
1985: Despite having the rights to field a team Eddie Einhorn decided not to a field a team in the USFL’s third season instead choosing to wait until the league moved its schedule to the fall. However, the move to the fall ended up leading the USFL’s collapse as the NFL blocked stadiums and television networks from allowing the league to get a foothold. The league would successfully sue the NFL as monopoly but only won $1, and was forced the cease operation. Despite their struggles in Chicago, Bill Polian who was Director of Player Personnel and Coach Marv Levy both went on to have Hall of Fame careers in NFL as they two took over the Buffalo Bills and eventually built a team that played in four straight Super Bowls. Polian would later build a Super Bowl championship team with the Indianapolis Colts.
©MMXVI 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 Chicago Blitz of the USFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on December 22, 2016. Last updated on December 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm ET.