In my Artis Gilmore post from earlier today, I made passing reference to Chuck Fusina, former USFL quarterback of the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars. A reader, the esteemed Michael Weinreb, happens to be the world’s biggest (and last) Chuck Fusina groupie, and he believes I way underestimate the brilliance that is Chuck.
Game on, punk. Game. On.
Yes, Fusina is the most accomplished quarterback in the three-year history of the USFL. Yes, in his time with the Stars he passed for more than 10,000 yards and led all quarterbacks with 66 touchdowns and an 88.6 passer rating. Yes, he guided the Stars to two titles, and yes he was the MVP of the 1984 USFL championship game.
To cite Derrick Coleman: “Whoop-de-damn-do.”
As everyone in the entire world knows, the Stars were absolutely loaded. Kelvin Bryant at halfback. Scott Fitzkee at receiver. Irv Eatman and Bart Oates anchoring the offensive line, and a little ol’ coach named Jim Mora. Put Fusina on, oh, the San Antonio Gunslingers, and he’s Ryan Leaf, sans the whining and drugs. He’s Anthony Dilwig, sans the memorable name. He’s Bill Vergantino. Hell, when the USFL folded Fusina joined the Green Bay Packers, completed 19 of 32 passes and was never heard from again. His claim to fame?
On a side note, I love the USFL. Loooove it. Hence, in its memory, I present my list of the league’s 10 best players (not the 10 all-time best, just the 10 best from the league lifespan).
1. Kelvin Bryant, Stars: Not as well known as Herschel, but a better receiver and blocker. The ultimate threat.
2. Jim Kelly, Gamblers: We’ll never see a quarterback put up those numbers again.
3. Sam Mills, Stars: The best defensive player in league history.
4. Anthony Carter, Panthers: The USFL’s Larry Fitzgerald.
5. Irv Eatman, Stars: Art Shell, USFL-style.
6. Herschel Walker, Generals: Never quite lived up to the hype (or money), but awfully good.
7. Gary Zimmerman, Express: Not quite as dominant a lineman as Eatman, but very, very close.
8. Kit Lathrop, Blitz/Wranglers: Frightening defensive tackle who had no NFL impact.
9. Mel Gray, Express: The best kick returner I’ve ever seen.
10. Chuck Fusina, Stars: Hell, I’ll throw the dude a bone (he was awfully good).