Edward John DeBartolo, Sr. wasn't considered a likely candidate for a USFL franchise for two key reasons:  first because it seemed as though owning a USFL team was too small a venture for the billionaire mall developer, and second because his son, Edward Jr., was already the majority owner of a pro football team - the NFL's San Francisco 49'ers. 

Nevertheless DeBartolo applied to place a USFL franchise in Pittsburgh, and his was the first expansion application considered and approved by the owners.  DeBartolo's USFL expansion application was unique in one sense, in that it personally committed him to fulfill its terms.  Other applicants each had formed corporations or partnerships, shielding themselves from personal liability for the $ 6 million franchise fee.

Sadly, the 1984 season would be the only one DeBartolo would have as owner of the Maulers.  Though the team had lost a reported $ 10 million in 1984, it wasn't the financial loss that killed the team.  On October 18, 1984 the USFL announced it would play in the fall beginning in 1986.  Just seven days later, DeBartolo decided he wouldn't compete with the Steelers and simply folded the team.

DeBartolo would continue for the next decade in his various business interests, dying at the age of 85 on December 19, 1994.


Pittsburgh Maulers


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