|League||United States Football League|
|Home field||Legion Field|
The Birmingham Stallions were Birmingham's franchise in the United States Football League, an attempt to establish a second professional football league in competition with the National Football League. The team was successful, compiling an overall 38-20 record over three years, making the playoffs twice, and playing before an average home crowd of over 32,000 fans despite having a lower payroll than prominent teams in larger markets. The league itself, however, was not so healthy and, after failing to challenge the NFL's monopoly on television contracts, folded after three seasons.
The team was owned by a group headed by Marvin L. Warner, and also including Aaron Aronov, Fred Berman, Harold Blach, Quentin Brown, James E. Clark, Wayne Gillis, Edward Hardin Jr, Andrew Hollis Jr, Gaylon McCullough, Mayer Mitchell, Mark Osborn, Bernard Rapoport, Harold Ripps, and J. B. Schilleci Jr. The name of the team, announced in June 1982, was inspired by Warner's horse-breeding hobby. "Knights" had been mentioned previously by Warner as a possible nickname.
The initial coaching search was dramatic, with publicized friction between candidate Jack Gotta and short-term general manager Jim Gould. Gene Stallings had met with the team and expressed interest, but ended up declining the position to remain with the Dallas Cowboys. After failing to sign a coach, Gould resigned. Jerry Sklar was brought on to become the organization's president and it was announced that the head coach would act as general manager. In September Pittsburgh Steelers assistant Rollie Dotsch accepted the job.
The Stallions played through all three of the USFL's seasons between 1983 and 1985. In 1983 they were in the Central Division of a 12-team league, along with the Chicago Blitz, the Michigan Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Bandits. In 1984 the league expanded to 18 teams and Birmingham competed in the Eastern Conference, Southern Division against the Jacksonville Bulls, Memphis Showboats, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay. In 1985 the league contracted to 14 teams, and Birmingham played against the Baltimore Stars, Jacksonville, Memphis, the New Jersey Generals (owned by Donald Trump and starring Heisman-winner Doug Flutie), the Orlando Renegades and Tampa Bay.
They played their home games at Legion Field, under a five-year lease of $5,000 per game or 10% of the gate, whichever was higher.
In March 1985 Orlando Sentinel reporter Joan Ryan claimed to have been intimidated and harassed after entering the Stallions locker room after a game. Later that month it was revealed that team owner Marvin Warner had taken a bath in the national Savings & Loan scandal. He dissolved his association with the team, losing his investment. The City of Birmingham, after a favorable opinion by Attorney General Charles Graddick, agreed on a $1 million loan through the Alabama State Fair Authority. By July of 1985 both the city and Jefferson County were investigating unpaid taxes. These were paid by July 19.
In 1986, at the behest of New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump, the league switched to a fall schedule, in direct competition with the NFL, which the USFL was suing as an illegal monopoly. After various defections, the league was reduced to eight teams. Birmingham was to play in the Liberty Division against Baltimore, Memphis and New Jersey. In July of that year a federal jury found in favor of the USFL in their antitrust suit against the NFL, but awarded only $1 in damages, mistakenly believing that the court could increase the amount. The USFL appealed the award, requesting that judge Peter Leisure order the break-up of the NFL into independent conferences and the dissolution of their contract with one of the three major networks. The league was facing a season without a major television contract. The league met in New York on August 4 and voted to suspend play for the 1986 season. Player contracts were dissolved, allowing USFL players to sign as free agents in the NFL.
Still waiting for an appeal, the league cancelled the 1987 season. When the league's request was ultimately refused in March 1988, the USFL was already, in effect, a memory.
- Buddy Aydelette, a guard earning All-League honors from 1983-1985
- Reggie Collier, quarterback drafted from the University of Southern Mississippi, but sidelined by a knee injury after week 3.
- Joe Cribbs, a backup running back from the Buffalo Bills (5 year contract for $2.35 million)
- Joey Jones, receiver from the University of Alabama, picked up in the 1984 territorial draft.
- Bob Lane, quarterback, drafted and cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starter in 1983
- Jim Smith, receiver from the University of Michigan.
- Cliff Stoudt, a former backup quarterback with the Steelers, starter in 1984 and 1985
- Ken Talton, former Kansas City and New England running back.
14-6 (lost in 2nd round of playoffs). Average home attendance: 36,850
- February 16, Houston Gamblers 20, Birmingham 10 at Legion Field (exhibition)
- February 24, Birmingham 38, New Jersey Generals 28 at Legion Field
- March 3, Denver Gold 40, Birmingham 23 at Legion Field
- March 9, Birmingham 34, Orlando Renegades 10 at Orlando
- March 17, Birmingham 34, Memphis Showboats 19 at Legion Field
- March 24, Birmingham 7, Baltimore Stars 3 at Baltimore's Byrd Stadium
- March 30, Birmingham 25, Jacksonville Bulls 18 at Legion Field
- April 7, San Antonio Gunslingers 15, Birmingham 14 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio
- April 13, Birmingham 20, Oakland Invaders 17 at Legion Field
- April 21, Birmingham 30, Tampa Bay Bandits 3 at Legion Field
- April 28, Jacksonville Bulls 27, Birmingham 17 at Gator Bowl
- May 3, Memphis Showboats 38, Birmingham 24 at Liberty Bowl in Memphis
- May 11, Birmingham 14, Portland Breakers 0 at Legion Field
- May 19, Birmingham 44, Los Angeles Express 7 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
- May 27, Birmingham 41, Orlando Renegades 17 at Legion Field
- June 3, Birmingham 29, Houston Gamblers 27 at Astrodome in Houston
- June 8, Birmingham 14, Baltimore Stars 7 at Legion Field
- June 15, Tampa Bay Bandits 17, Birmingham 14 at Tampa Bay
- June 23, Birmingham 14, New Jersey Generals 6 at Giants Stadium
- June 29, Birmingham 22, Houston Gamblers 20 (playoff round 1 at Legion Field )
- July 7, Baltimore Stars 28, Birmingham 14 (playoff round 2 at Legion Field )
15-5 (lost in 2nd round of playoffs). Average home attendance: 22,046
- February 11, Birmingham 30, New Orleans Breakers 10 at Legion Field (exhibition)
- February 18, Birmingham 23, San Antonio Gunslingers 15 at San Antonio (exhibition)
- February 26, New Jersey Generals 17, Birmingham 6 at Legion Field
- March 4, Birmingham 21, Los Angeles Express 14 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
- March 11, Birmingham 30, Pittsburgh Maulers 18 at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium
- March 17, Birmingham 54, Memphis Showboats 6 at Legion Field
- March 26, Birmingham 27, Tampa Bay Bandits 9 at Tampa Bay
- April 2, Birmingham 31, New Orleans Breakers 17 at Legion Field
- April 7, Birmingham 24, Jacksonville Bulls 17 at Gator Bowl
- April 15, Birmingham 28, Michigan Panthers 17 at Pontiac Silverdome
- April 20, Birmingham 41, Oklahoma Outlaws 17 at Legion Field
- April 29, Birmingham 31, Denver Gold 14 at Mile High Stadium
- May 4, Philadelphia Stars 43, Birmingham 11 at Legion Field
- May 11, Birmingham 42, Jacksonville Bulls 10 at Legion Field
- May 18, Birmingham 41, Chicago Blitz 7 at Soldier Field
- May 27, Birmingham 31, New Orleans Breakers 14 at Louisiana Superdome
- June 3, Arizona Wranglers 38, Birmingham 28 at Legion Field
- June 10, Birmingham 42, Washington Federals 21 at Legion Field
- June 16, Birmingham 35, Memphis Showboats 20 at Liberty Bowl in Memphis
- June 24, Tampa Bay Bandits 17, Birmingham 16 at Legion Field
- July 1, Birmingham 36, Tampa Bay Bandits 17 (playoff round 1 at Legion Field)
- July 8, Philadelphia Stars 20, Birmingham 10 (playoff round 2 at Franklin Field)
- March 7, Michigan Panthers 9, Birmingham 7 at Legion Field
- March 13, Birmingham 20, Oakland Invaders 14 (OT) at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum
- March 21, Philadelphia Stars 17, Birmingham 10 at Legion Field
- March 26, Birmingham 16, Arizona Wranglers 7 at Legion Field
- April 2, Boston Breakers 27, Birmingham 16 at Nickerson Field
- April 10, Chicago Blitz 22, Birmingham 11 at Soldier Field
- April 17 Denver Gold 9, Birmingham 7 at Legion Field
- April 24, Birmingham 21, Oakland Invaders 9 at Legion Field
- May 1, Birmingham 35, Washington Federals 3 at RFK Stadium
- May 9, Birmingham 22, New Jersey Generals 7 at Giants Stadium
- May 14, Birmingham 35, Los Angeles Express 20 at Legion Field
- May 23, Birmingham 23, Michigan Panthers 20 (OT) at the Pontiac Silverdome
- May 27, Denver Gold 21, Birmingham 19 at Mile High Stadium
- June 5, Tampa Bay Bandits 45, Birmingham 17 at Tampa Stadium
- June 11, Birmingham 31, Boston Breakers 19 at Legion Field
- June 17, Chicago Blitz 29, Birmingham 14 at Legion Field
- June 26, Philadelphia Stars 21, Birmingham 10 at Veterans Stadium
- July 2, Birmingham 29, Tampa Bay Bandits 17 at Legion Field
Single Season Leaders
- Rushing yards: 1,467 (1984), Joe Cribbs
- Receiving yards: 1,607 (1984), Jim Smith (also league record)
- Passing yards: 3,188 (1985), Cliff Stoudt
|Pro Football in Birmingham