You go on to Pro Football Reference and their statistics don’t even show the USFL years for the league’s greatest players. It’s as if those years 1983-85 in professional football didn’t exist. But the USFL once featured some of the best American football players. Football players who became hall of fame material after leaving the USFL when it folded.
1. Hershel Walker. Leading the league in rushing both in 1983 and in 1985, it is clear that Walker was the most successful player in USFL history. Even in his 40’s Walker was interested in returning to professional football earlier this year. His 2411 rushing yards in 1985 remains the record for the most rushing yards in one season (I know it was in 18 games.).
2. Doug Flutie. Despite Walker’s emergence as the best player in the USFL, the New Jersey Generals only won 6 games in Walker inaugural season, 1983. Because of that, new Owner, Donald Trump sought out the best quarterback in the 1985 draft. That Quarterback was Doug Flutie. Despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 1984, he was not projected to be that much of a professional Quarterback. Although he struggled in his only year in the USFL, he went on to great success, particularly in the CFL.
3. Jim Kelly. The Houston Gamblers lucked out when Jim Kelly landed in their laps because he didn’t want to play in cold weather Buffalo. The 1984 USFL MVP, Kelly set all of the passing records in teh USFL. Was he going to be taking Doug Flutie’s place as starting Generals Quarterback in 1986? Who knows?
4. Reggie White. Playing for the Memphis Showboats in 1984 and 1985, the former University of Tennessee standout recorded double digit in sacks both of the years he played in the USFL before heading to the Phildadelphia Eagles.
5. Steve Young. The Los Angeles Express won Steve Young out of BYU in 1984. Despite receiving the largest contract in USFL history, Young was unable to do much as starting Quarterback in his years in the USFL biding his time until he took over as QB of the Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers. His claim to USFL fame was being the most prolific rushing Quarterback in USFL history.