The USFL—United States Football League—was the last football league to not merely challenge the mighty NFL, but cause it to collectively shudder. It spanned three seasons, 1983-85. It secured multiple television deals. It drew millions of fans and launched the careers of legends. But then it died beneath the weight of a particularly egotistical and bombastic owner—a New York businessman named Donald Trump. The league featured as many as 18 teams, and included such superstars as Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier.

In Football for a Buck, New York Times best-selling author Jeff Pearlman draws on more than four hundred interviews to unearth all the salty, untold stories of one of the craziest sports entities to have ever captivated America. From 1980s drug excess to airplane brawls and player-coach punch outs, to backroom business deals, to some of the most enthralling and revolutionary football ever seen, Pearlman transports readers back in time to this crazy, boozy, audacious, unforgettable era of the game. He shows how fortunes were made and lost on the backs of professional athletes and also how, thirty years ago, Trump was a scoundrel and a spoiler. This is sports as high entertainment—and a cautionary tale of the dangers of ego and excess.

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Football For A Buck
The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL

The USFL—United States Football League—was the last football league to not merely challenge the mighty NFL, but cause it to collectively shudder. It spanned three seasons, 1983-85. It secured multiple television deals. It drew millions of fans and launched the careers of legends. But then it died beneath the weight of a particularly egotistical and bombastic owner—a New York businessman named Donald Trump. The league featured as many as 18 teams, and included such superstars as Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier.

In Football for a Buck, New York Times best-selling author Jeff Pearlman draws on more than four hundred interviews to unearth all the salty, untold stories of one of the craziest sports entities to have ever captivated America. From 1980s drug excess to airplane brawls and player-coach punch outs, to backroom business deals, to some of the most enthralling and revolutionary football ever seen, Pearlman transports readers back in time to this crazy, boozy, audacious, unforgettable era of the game. He shows how fortunes were made and lost on the backs of professional athletes and also how, thirty years ago, Trump was a scoundrel and a spoiler. This is sports as high entertainment—and a cautionary tale of the dangers of ego and excess.

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Words About The Book

“As we’ve come to expect from Jeff Pearlman’s books, Football for a Buck is deeply reported, deftly told, smart, hilarious, sad, riveting — and prescient. Through the stories of USFL businessmen, coaches, benchwarmers, and stars who later became household names — Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, and yes, Donald Trump — Pearlman captures the troubled lavishness of mid-80s America and foreshadows so many of the issues that professional football — and the country — are experiencing today. Oh, and there’s a lot of sex and drugs.”

—Seth Wickersham, ESPN The Magazine senior writer

“Tells in delightful detail the story of a long-gone pro football league. To call it just a sports book, though, sells it way short. Football for a Buck far transcends other sports books, making it contemporary and fun for anybody to read . . . The book is nothing less than painstakingly thorough, with dozens of zany and colorful stories about players and executives in a renegade league that quickly made its mark, frightening the mighty NFL . . . It is a thorough, funny, fascinating, and entertaining sports book.”

—Forbes.com

“A wonderful, thorough, insightful look at a deeply weird moment in American football history. And it’s also a primer of sorts for this current deeply weird moment in American political history.”

—Yahoo! Sports

“Every bit as fantastic as you’d expect a Pearlman book to be, and you honestly don’t need to have spent time as a devoted USFL fan (as Jeff and I both were) to enjoy.”

—Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

“Engrossing, eerily relevant.”

—Time.com

“Pro football is ripe for revolution. Luckily, Jeff Pearlman’s Football for a Buck offers a blueprint for change . . . The book will also please readers who sip bad ink about Donald Trump as if it were the finest wine.”

—Wall Street Journal

“Endlessly fascinating . . . Pearlman proves to be the perfect person to write [the USFL’s] history . . . Football for a Buck is a hilarious, engrossing roller coaster of a book.”

—NPR.org

“If foreshadowing was passing yards this book would be Jim Kelly. A definitive history of a wild and wooly football league fondly remembered three decades after its demise; but also a definitive preview to the 45th president.”

—L. Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated

“Wonderful anecdotes . . . Fascinating and hilarious reading on a half-dozen levels. Just great for football fans who like to laugh.”

—Booklist, starred review

“When I started this book, I wasn’t interested in the USFL. By the time I fished it, I wanted a sequel, a USFL movie, and Tampa Bay Bandits action figures. Jeff Pearlman’s joy for this wild old league is contagious as hell. Great read. I’m in. GO MAULERS!!”

—Kyle Brandt, cohost of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football
Words About The Book

“As we’ve come to expect from Jeff Pearlman’s books, Football for a Buck is deeply reported, deftly told, smart, hilarious, sad, riveting — and prescient. Through the stories of USFL businessmen, coaches, benchwarmers, and stars who later became household names — Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, and yes, Donald Trump — Pearlman captures the troubled lavishness of mid-80s America and foreshadows so many of the issues that professional football — and the country — are experiencing today. Oh, and there’s a lot of sex and drugs.”

—Seth Wickersham, ESPN The Magazine senior writer

“Tells in delightful detail the story of a long-gone pro football league. To call it just a sports book, though, sells it way short. Football for a Buck far transcends other sports books, making it contemporary and fun for anybody to read . . . The book is nothing less than painstakingly thorough, with dozens of zany and colorful stories about players and executives in a renegade league that quickly made its mark, frightening the mighty NFL . . . It is a thorough, funny, fascinating, and entertaining sports book.”

—Forbes.com

“A wonderful, thorough, insightful look at a deeply weird moment in American football history. And it’s also a primer of sorts for this current deeply weird moment in American political history.”

—Yahoo! Sports

“Every bit as fantastic as you’d expect a Pearlman book to be, and you honestly don’t need to have spent time as a devoted USFL fan (as Jeff and I both were) to enjoy.”

—Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

“Engrossing, eerily relevant.”

—Time.com

“Pro football is ripe for revolution. Luckily, Jeff Pearlman’s Football for a Buck offers a blueprint for change . . . The book will also please readers who sip bad ink about Donald Trump as if it were the finest wine.”

—Wall Street Journal

“Endlessly fascinating . . . Pearlman proves to be the perfect person to write [the USFL’s] history . . . Football for a Buck is a hilarious, engrossing roller coaster of a book.”

—NPR.org

“If foreshadowing was passing yards this book would be Jim Kelly. A definitive history of a wild and wooly football league fondly remembered three decades after its demise; but also a definitive preview to the 45th president.”

—L. Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated

“Wonderful anecdotes . . . Fascinating and hilarious reading on a half-dozen levels. Just great for football fans who like to laugh.”

—Booklist, starred review

“When I started this book, I wasn’t interested in the USFL. By the time I fished it, I wanted a sequel, a USFL movie, and Tampa Bay Bandits action figures. Jeff Pearlman’s joy for this wild old league is contagious as hell. Great read. I’m in. GO MAULERS!!”

—Kyle Brandt, cohost of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football