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May 11 - At "21" in New York City, the United States Football League announces its plans to begin play with the 1983 season.  Over the next six weeks, television packages with ABC and ESPN are also announced.
June 2 - New York franchise announces it has named former New England Patriots coach Chuck Fairbanks as President and Head Coach.
July 22 - New Jersey Generals announced as team name,  as team signs to play at the Meadowlands through 2002.  Team colors are announced as red, white and blue.
August 31 - Generals are aligned in the USFL Atlantic Division along with the Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Stars and Washington Federals.
December 17 - Lottery is held for upcoming USFL Draft positions; Generals will select 3rd in odd numbered rounds, 10th in even-numbered ones.

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January 4 - Having traded down in the first round draft order to allow the Birmingham Stallions to select quarterback Reggie Collier, the New Jersey Generals use the #5 overall pick to select Arkansas RB Gary Anderson.  Anderson's USFL rights would be traded to the Tampa Bay Bandits.
February 23 - 1982 Heisman Trophy winning Georgia RB Herschel Walker is formally introduced to the media as a member of the New Jersey Generals.  Walker, who had previously negotiated with the Chicago Blitz, signed a three year deal worth $4.2 million, including a $1 million signing bonus.  Walker would sign an extension of this deal in 1985.
March 6 - Thanks to Walker the New Jersey Generals inaugural game against the Los Angeles Express is chosen as ABC's nationally telecast USFL game.  Walker rushes for the first 65 of his 1,812 yards on the season, but the Generals lose to the Express at the L.A. Coliseum, 20-15.
April 3 - After losing the team's first four games, the New Jersey Generals earn their first-ever victory in the USFL, a 35-21 win over the Arizona Wranglers.

To see more of the
Generals timeline, visit the
Timeline of the USFL

Years Played in USFL: 1983, 1984, 1985
Club Owner(s): J. Walter Duncan and Chuck Fairbanks (1983); Donald J. Trump (1984-85)
Playing Site: The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Head Coach(es): Chuck Fairbanks (1983), Walt Michaels (1984-85)
Overall Record: 31-25-0 (31-23-0 regular season)
. .

Year Head Coach W L T Pct. Finish Post-Season Notes
1983 Chuck Fairbanks 6 12 0 .333 3rd, Atlantic Div. Failed to Qualify
1984 Walt Michaels 14 4 0 .778 2nd, Atlantic Div. Lost Divisional Playoff
1985 Walt Michaels 11 7 0 .611 2nd, Eastern Conf. Lost Divisional Playoff
Team Totals 31 23 0 .574 --- -

Considered by many within the league's office and certainly by its second owner as the flagship franchise of the United States Football League, the New Jersey Generals appeared to be anything but up until a month before the league's inaugural 1983 season.
Originally to be owned by real estate magnate Donald Trump, he would leave the USFL ownership ranks citing a need to remain focused on his holdings, including the construction of New York's famed Trump Tower.  Oklahoma oilman J. Walter Duncan stepped into the void, and prior to February 1983 had followed the David Dixon plan when it came to signing players and a head coach, bringing in Chuck Fairbanks in the latter role and giving him a reported 10% of the franchise.  The team didn't have a truly marketable star, and looking back on it one wonders how the 1983 team would have fared without the signing of one player.

That player, of course, was Heisman Trophy winning Georgia RB Herschel Walker, who decided to turn pro after his junior year, eschewing his final year of eligibility under NCAA rules.  The only problem was that the NFL and USFL had both adopted rules barring their teams from signing underclassmen.  USFL Director of Administration Steve Ehrhart knew that if challenged in court that rule would be deemed illegal by the courts however, and when Walker's agent approached the league about the possibility of his joining the fledgling league, the USFL had no choice but to allow him to negotiate with teams for Walker's services. 

Choosing the Generals because he saw enhanced marketing opportunities, Walker and Duncan came to terms on a three-year deal worth $4.2 million, including a $1 million signing bonus.  While initially Walker would deny that a deal had been struck, eventually it was announced as a done deal - college football's brightest star was coming to the new league's biggest city.

On the field in 1983 however, the flagship franchise had quite a few leaks.  Walker's presence didn't make much difference, as the team went a woeful 6-12-0.  Walker brought drawing power to the gate however, with the Generals among the league leaders in attendance despite their record.  Lamenting that he had to commute nearly 2,000 miles to watch his team play a home game, Duncan decided to sell the Generals after that first season, and Donald Trump stepped forward to return to the USFL ownership ranks, buying the club on September 22, 1983.  From that day forward, some historians argue, the USFL was doomed.

Rather than adhere to the original USFL plan, Trump almost immediately sought to improve his team seemingly at almost any cost.  The Generals signed players away from the NFL such as Gary Barbaro and Kerry Justin, then 1980 league MVP Brian Sipe to quarterback the 1984 team, and Chuck Fairbanks was replaced as head coach by popular former Jets head coach Walt Michaels.  Money was spent without regard to the league's salary cap structure (the contracts for Sipe and Walker alone exceeded it), but in doing so Trump built a winner.  The 1984 team, still led by Walker, dramatically improved to 14-4-0 and earned its first playoff berth.  Though the team would lose in the opening round of the USFL playoffs, the improvement only spurred Trump and other USFL owners to spend their teams into oblivion.

Trump also angled for the USFL to compete head to head with the NFL by moving to a fall schedule.  While this was the diametric opposite of what David Dixon had in mind in founding the league, over the course of 1984 Trump managed to convince his fellow owners that moving to the fall would result in the USFL getting a better television package - without any hard evidence to support his theory.  The 1984-85 off season was another one where Trump opened his wallet wide, signing another Heisman Trophy winner to the team, Boston College QB Doug Flutie.  Flutie, considered by many in the NFL to be too small to play quarterback, signed for a reported four years at $5 million.  Never mind that the Gens already had a highly paid quarterback in Brian Sipe - within 24 hours he was shipped off to Jacksonville.  Flutie added marketability, and Trump was confident his star power would be helpful.

If ever a pro football team was a one- or two-man show, the 1985 Generals personified it.  With Walker and Flutie in the Gens backfield, the team won 11 games thanks largely to Flutie handing the ball off to Walker, Flutie handing the ball off to Walker, and more Flutie handing the ball off to Walker.  Carrying the ball 438 times, Walker amassed a pro football record 2,411 yards, leading the Generals to an 11-7-0 record and a second place finish in the seven-team Eastern Conference.  Flutie's freshman season in the USFL was actually something of a bust, however, throwing for 2,109 yards and more interceptions than touchdowns.

Hosting the 1985 USFL Championship Game, league office personnel hoped the Generals would advance to the title game in an effort to curb the league's financial losses, but to no avail - the seeding of teams put the Generals head to head with the defending champion Baltimore Stars, and even owner Trump was heard saying his team had no chance to beat them.  He was right, as the Generals fell 20-17 in what would be the team's final game.  Trump's vision of the USFL in the fall never came to be thanks to the verdict in USFL v. NFL, essentially killing the Generals and the league.

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