The United States Football League (USFL) was an American football league that existed for three seasons — 1983 through 1985. The man who would become President, Donald Trump, owned one of the teams, the New Jersey Generals. In fact, Trump is widely credited for destroying the entire league:
According to ESPN:
Soon after Trump bought the Generals after the USFL’s inaugural season, which was played in the spring of 1983, he started pushing his fellow owners to move the league’s games to the fall and go head-to-head with the NFL. “If God wanted football in the spring,” Trump once said, “he wouldn’t have created baseball.” After the league’s third season, the owners agreed to move to a fall schedule in 1986.
“I think it was a big mistake,” said Dr. Ted Diethrich, one of the league’s original owners. “When that decision was made, the course for this was charted, and it was going to be a wreck.”
Several teams were having financial difficulties at the time, and the league lacked the fall TV contracts that supported the NFL. The USFL instead tried to take on the NFL in the courts by filing an antitrust lawsuit. The hope was that the USFL would either merge with the established league or win a sizable settlement. The merger never happened, and despite winning the lawsuit, the USFL was ultimately awarded only $3 for its troubles. The league soon folded, and Trump’s push for the fall schedule and a lawsuit against the NFL is generally cited as the main reason.
In addition to his bad strategy and process, he apparently was also a bully. Steve Paikin, host of TVO’s current affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, tweeted, “well, look at this. when
@realDonaldTrump was an owner in the now defunct USFL, canadian owner johnny f. bassett confronted him on his bullying tactics. worth a read. #Trump.”
Here’s the tweet:
well, look at this. when @realDonaldTrump was an owner in the now defunct USFL, canadian owner johnny f. bassett confronted him on his bullying tactics. worth a read. #Trump pic.twitter.com/HsYlPp2y5r
— Steve Paikin (@spaikin) July 18, 2018
And here’s the scathing letter:
John F. Bassett’s best lines:
“You are bigger, younger, and stronger than I, which means I’ll have no regrets whatsoever punching you right in the mouth the next time an instance occurs where you personally scorn me, or anyone else, who does not happen to salute and dance to your tune.”
Image Credit: Twitter and Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons