Why Trump Really Hates The NFL – He’s Jealous!
This is the story of the United States Football League (USFL). This was a professional football league that was the brain child of New Orleans business man David Dixon that was intended not to necessarily compete with the NFL, but to offer hard core football fans professional football in the spring/summer when there were no NFL or college games to entertain them. The league started in 1983 and made up of many executives, coaches, and players with extensive NFL experience, the product on the field gained rapid popularity and quickly began attracting top level talent.
Many future NFL Hall Famers got their start in the USFL, including stars like Steve Young, Warren Moon, and Jim Kelly. Perhaps the USFL’s most prized acquisition came when the New Jersey Generals draft Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. Not only was the league legitimately drawing fans, they also gained a TV contract with major station ABC. People were really enjoying having this spring/summer option to enjoy watching good quality, professional football. So what went wrong?
Enter none other than Donald Trump who purchased the majority shares of the New Jersey General to become the franchise’s owner. Trump was never really satisfied playing second fiddle to the NFL and felt that the USFL could realistically compete with the NFL and force them to come to the table to form a merger, thereby admitting USFL teams into the NFL. This, of course went completely against the Dixon plan and many other USFL team owners that saw the folly in trying to compete in the same season as the much older and long established NFL.
Donald Trump eventually convinced enough fellow owners to compete against the NFL in the fall of 1986, despite ABC having offered the league a 4 year, $175 million contract to to play the spring of 1986. This would have made each owner $67 million a year over 4 years from 1986 – 1990 spring seasons, which they walked away from in the interests of claiming victory over the NFL. The USFL would never play a fall game, nor another game following the 1985 spring season; and the NFL never offered any merger.
Led by Donald Trump, the USFL owners filed a lawsuit against the NFL for violation of anti-trust laws. They actually won the lawsuit, but the judgement awarded to the USFL amounted to only $3…a heck of a lot less to split than the deal ABC had offered.
So, what happened to the USFL? Donald Trump happened and he has not not forgotten having been crushed by the NFL. True to form, Trump later claimed victory in his USFL ownership decrying that the USFL would not have lasted as long as it did if it were not for his involvement. Quite the contrary, it may have actually survived under the Dixon plan, rather than having gone the way of Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, and all of his Atlantic City casino failures.