From the beginning, USFL founder David Dixon placed a premium on putting a team in the New York area. Initially, real estate magnate and future U. S. president Donald Trump was tapped to own the team. However, he backed out after paying an initial installment on the franchise fee, hoping instead to buy the struggling Baltimore Colts of the NFL. Needing a credible owner with the means to front a team in the nation’s biggest market, Dixon persuaded Oklahoma oil magnate J. Walter Duncan to step in. Duncan had originally been slated to own the USFL’s Chicago franchise, as he’d grown up in Chicago. However, he readily agreed to shift to New York.
At 66 years old, Duncan soon tired of flying 2,000 miles from Oklahoma to New York to see his team play. He was not willing to be an absentee owner, and decided to sell to a local buyer. After the 1983 season, he found one in Donald J. Trump, who had initially angled for the franchise in 1982 before backing out.
Trump tried to lure legendary coach Don Shula from the Miami Dolphins. Once Shula declined, the Generals hired former New York Jets head coach Walt Michaels.
Almost from the moment Trump bought the Generals, he sought to use them as a vehicle to get an NFL team. To this end, he began advocating moving the USFL from a spring schedule to a fall schedule, directly opposite NFL. His long-term plans called for moving the Generals across the Hudson River to New York, which had not had a team play within its borders since the Jets moved from Shea Stadium in Queens to the Meadowlands. He intended to have the Generals play at Shea until the construction of a new 80,000-seat “Trump Stadium” in Manhattan.
In 1984, he convinced most of his fellow owners to move to a fall schedule in 1986. Trump contended that if the USFL were to hold its own against the NFL, it would eventually force a merger with the more established league—in which the owners of any USFL teams included in a merger would see their investment more than double.
The Generals acquired the assets of one of the teams displaced by the vote to move to the fall, the Houston Gamblers, during the extended offseason. This was widely reported as a merger, since the Generals inherited all of the Gamblers’ player contracts–including those of quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Ricky Sanders. Michaels was fired, replaced with former Gamblers coach Jack Pardee, who planned to bring Kelly and the Gamblers’ high-powered run and shoot offense with him. Fans immediately dubbed the Kelly-Walker led Generals as the USFL’s “Dream Team.”
However, the revamped Generals never played a down. The 1986 season was cancelled after the USFL won a minimal verdict in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL; the league folded soon afterward.
The New Jersey Generals were a franchise of the United States Football League (USFL) established in 1982 to begin play in the spring and summer of 1983. The team played three seasons from 1983–85, winning 31 regular-season games and losing 25 while going 0–2 in postseason competition.
1983 – 1986 / United States Football League
1983 – 1986 / New Jersey Generals
Generals – The primary logo was a gold five-star general wreath. The team was the second in the New York metropolitan area to be known as “Generals,” there having been a professional soccer team in the late 1960s known as the “New York Generals.”
Original USFL Team
Final USFL Team
Team’s Final Outlook
The Generals merged with the Houston Gamblers during the extended offseason, adding such stars as quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Ricky Sanders. However, the USFL’s “Dream Team” never took the field. The 1986 season was cancelled after the USFL won a minimal verdict in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL; the league folded soon afterward.
USFL Championship 0
1983 – 1985 / The Meadowlands
1984 – 1985 / Donald Trump
1983 / J. Walter Duncan and Chuck Fairbanks
1984 – 1985 / Walt Michaels (25 wins – 13 losses)
1983 / Chuck Fairbanks (6 wins -12 losses)
1985 / Division Championship Game (vs Baltimore Stars 17 – 20)
Averaged 35,004 in 1983, 37,716 in 1984 and 41,268 in 1985 (80,242 seat stadium)
Herschel Walker’s record USFL 2,411 rushing yards
*Blue is this team’s history