Game Balls

USFLUnited States Football League
1983–1985

The USFL began in 1983 as a spring-summer alternative to the NFL. The league began play March 6. 1983 with teams in 12 cities. The league rules included such innovations as an 18-game schedule with no pre-season, the two-point conversion, and “territorial” college drafts. The league expanded in 1984 to 18 teams, but in 1985 several teams merged or folded and the league was reduced to 14 teams. For 1986 the USFL planned to begin a fall schedule to complete with the NFL head-to-head. The league, which at one time hoped to force a merger with the NFL, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the established league in hopes the money would insure its survival. The USFL won shortly before the planned 1986 season, but was awarded only $3 when courts agreed that while the NFL was a monopoly, it became one through sound business practices rather than illegal tactics. The “victory” proved to be the death of the upstart USFL, which spent what little money it had left in court.

The USFL game ball is a Wilson model in medium tan leather with the logo on both sides. For the 1986 season, the league was considering a switch to a Rawlings ST-5 model. A prototype is pictured below.

USFL ball    USFL 1986 ball