The old United States Football League even though they had a good product as far as their quality of talent and coaching with a lot of those people more than capable of succeeding in the NFL which a lot of them did like QB Jim Kelly, QB Steve Young, QB Doug Williams, QB Bobby Hebert. RB Hershel Walker, RB Mike Rozier, WR Rickey Sanders, DE Reggie White and many others. The USFL made two crucial mistakes early on.
Expanding way too fast. They had eighteen franchises in their three years, whereas the old American Football League finished out with ten franchises before they merged with the NFL in 1970 and the rest is history. But the USFL moved way too fast decided to compete with the NFL by 1985 their third season moving their games from the spring to the fall with the NFL and also expanding into NFL markets. Like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Denver going head-to-head with these established franchises.
And the people in these markets weren’t going support teams they weren’t familiar with especially if they love their NFL team. So the USFL was invading NFL territory and got kicked out by the NFL and as a result went out of business even though they had a product that was good enough to keep them in business today. Because they had the money and ability to attract NFL caliber talent.
The Washington Federals are the perfect example of this, not only competing with the Redskins directly and play at their stadium RFK, but they were competing with at the time one of the best franchises in the NFL that had just won Super Bowl 17. And won back-to-back NFC Championships and were in contention to win another division, conference and Super Bowl Championship. I know this because I’m a football junky and of course a die-hard Redskin fan since 1982. And unfortunately got to see a few Federal games and not only were they competing with the Redskins for fan support and revenue.
But the Federals were lousy perhaps the worst team in the USFL for all three seasons. So you had one of the best teams in the NFL at the time in the Redskins, competing with one of the worst teams in the USFL the Federals. The Federals an expansion franchise in a brand new pro football league, going up against one of the best franchises in the NFL. In the best pro football league in the world, as well as one of the best pro sports leagues in the world in the same market. A very big market where there are plenty of other things to do, playing in the same stadium.
The Washington Federals represent exactly what was wrong with the USFL, with their ugly green and white uniforms looking more like the Philadelphia Eagles than a Washington sports franchise. And to top all of that off, being one of the worst teams in the league for all three seasons. And represent one reason why the USFL went out of business after just three years.
USFL Forever-ABC Sports: USFL 1983-Week 1-Chicago Blitz @ Washington Federals: Full Game