I am counting down the top 25 players in USFL history, concluding with the announcement of the No. 1 guy on Sept. 10—the eve of the release date for Football for a Buck.
The list comes after years of writing and researching my book, as well as a lifetime of loving the long, lost spring football league.
There have been books throughout my career that were written because the moment was right. There have been books throughout my career that felt like pure labor (sorry, Roger Clemens). But Football for a Buckis pure passion. Everything about the USFL spoke to me. The colors. The uniforms. The nicknames. The stars. The scrubs. It felt real and gritty and authentic.
Hence, the book.
Hence, the list.
Also, a quick point: This has 0 to do with what the players later became. NFL accomplishments are insignificant here. It’s all about the USFL.
So, with no further ado …
No. 7: Chuck Fusina
Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars (1983-85)
OK, so this is where things start getting really tricky.
Stars quarterback Chuck Fusina is ranked seventh. He could easily be ranked first. It all depends on how one views these things; on what one values. On the one hand, Chuck Fusina is the winningest quarterback in USFL history. He guided his team to all three league championship games, winning two of them. Plus, his statistics are really good. Fusina’s 66 career touchdowns are paired with 33 interceptions (this is at a time when far more passes were picked off). He ranks second in league history with 10,051 passing yards, just a tad behind Bobby Hebert.
And yet … there are arguments to be made against Fusina’s greatness. First, he was part of the USFL’s dominant franchise, overflowing with superb offensive linemen, a legendary halfback (Kelvin Bryant), a fleet of quality wide receivers and a meticulous attack. The Stars rarely asked Fusina to do anything dynamic. Just run the offense, keep the chains moving, don’t screw up.
So, well, I have him here. A strong, worthwhile seventh.
In NFL terms, Fusina is Chad Pennington. And, truly, I believe he could have been Chad Pennington had any teams given him a legitimate opportunity. Yet after spending three years backing up Doug Williams in Tampa Bay, then three years owning the USFL, Fusina received but a slight cup o’ Joe in Green Bay before his career ended.
Chuck Fusina: Not mind-blowing. Just damn good.
From Football for a Buck …
Player No. 25: Tim Spencer
Player No. 24: Chuck Clanton
Player No. 23: Maurice Carthon
Player No. 22: Marcus Marek
Player No. 21: Jimmy Smith
Player No. 20: John Reaves
Player No. 19: Richard Johnson
Player No. 18: Irv Eatman
Player No. 17: Peter Raeford
Player No. 16: Trumaine Johnson
Player No. 15: David Greenwood
Player No. 14: Joey Walters
Player No. 13: Gary Zimmerman
Player No. 12: Reggie White
Player No. 11: John Corker
Player No. 10: Luther Bradley
Player No. 9: Anthony Carter
Player No. 8: Gary Anderson
Player No. 7: Chuck Fusina