1 9 8 2

May 11 - At "21" in New York, a press conference is held announcing that the USFL will begin playing spring football in March 1983.

1 9 8 3

March - Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. applies, in his own name (rather than most, who applied as a corporation or other business type that limited liability) for a USFL franchise.  His application is almost immediately approved.
April 24 - The USFL announces that its first expansion franchise has been awarded to DeBartolo and the city of Pittsburgh, with the team to begin play in 1984.
July 3 - DeBartolo hires San Francisco 49'ers VP and General Counsel Paul Martha as President of Pittsburgh Maulers, Inc., which was formed to run the franchise.
July 6 - George Heddelston is named the Maulers general manager.
August 8 - Joe Pendry is hired as the team's first head coach.  Less than three weeks later his successor, Ellis Rainsberger, is brought on as the team's offensive line coach.

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Maulers timeline, visit the
Timeline of the USFL

Years Played in USFL: 1984
Club Owner(s): Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr.
Playing Site: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Head Coach(es): Joe Pendry, Ellis Rainsberger (1984)
Overall Record: 3-15-0
. .

Year Head Coach W L T Pct. Finish Post-Season Notes
1984 Joe Pendry 2 8 0 .200 3rd, Atlantic Div. Fired During Season
- Ellis Rainsberger 1 7 0 .125 3rd, Atlantic Div. Failed to Qualify
Team Totals 3 15 0 .167 --- -

It was a shocking development.  Among the 24 applications for expansion franchises there were two desiring to put a USFL franchise in Pittsburgh for 1984 - that surprised no one.  The shock was over who one of the applications had been made by.
Youngstown, Ohio mall developer and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. had applied for membership in the USFL.  DeBartolo, a self-made billionaire (and unlike L.A. Express owner J. William Oldenburg, he really was one) and the father of San Francisco 49'ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr., was about the last person the USFL expected to see apply for a franchise.  But as soon as he did, the league's powers that be worked hard to see that it got quick approval.  DeBartolo as an owner would be a major coup.

The USFL now had a strong owner in DeBartolo in a football-crazy city in Pittsburgh.  It seemed like a match made in heaven by Lombardi himself.  But it was not to be.  After a "Name the Team" contest resulted in the team being named the "Maulers," many would be fans were put off, and many others who didn't know the steel industry needed an explanation of just what the hell a "Mauler" was.  Fans were excited at the fact that the Maulers got the #1 overall draft pick, hoping the team would use it to pick up quarterback Steve Young... only to see them pick Nebraska Heisman Trophy winning running back Mike Rozier - a solid choice, just not who the knowledgeable Pittsburgh fans thought the team should take.

Unfortunately beyond Rozier the team didn't have any "name" players to speak of.  Quarterbacks Glenn Carano and Tom Rozantz were okay, but neither was a Steve Young in the eyes of local fans.  Sam Clancy was solid at defensive end, but he wouldn't make the cut on the famed "Steel Curtain" defense of the 1970's NFL Steelers.  Mike Rozier proved okay at running back, but he was no Franco Harris.  Simply put Pittsburgh's fans expected a winner - now rather than later - and they were disappointed.  The team sold out its home opener against the Birmingham Stallions (this due almost entirely to former Steeler back-up QB Cliff Stoudt playing for Birmingham; at the game he was pelted with snowballs), but as the losses mounted the fans stayed home.  Attendance dwindled from 53,771 in the opener to 14,418 in a mid-season home game against New Jersey, to 16,832 against the Bandits in the regular season finale.  Team President Paul Martha fired Joe Pendry after 10 weeks in an effort to shake things up, but the losing continued as the Maulers posted a 3-15-0 record in what would prove to be their only season.

Despite the losses, both financial (he reportedly lost $10 million, though USFL.INFO disputes that figure) and on the field, DeBartolo was prepared to retool and build a winner in Pittsburgh for 1985.  And then, just like that, it was over.  The USFL's ownership had voted to move to a fall schedule for 1986.  There was no way his Maulers could or would compete with the NFL's Steelers, and moving the team to Cleveland wasn't an option - Cleveland fans would accept getting a Pittsburgh cast-off.  So DeBartolo, without hesitation and without so much as a press conference, shut down the Maulers for good.

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