Jeff Pearlman

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Diving into a book

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Tonight I dove into my USFL book.

Perhaps that’s a bit unclear, so lemme try again.

For the past, oh, two years I’ve been slaving over a book about the old United States Football League. It’s been an absolute labor of love. It doesn’t pay well, it’s not a topic that automatically sells, many people under the age of, oh, 30 have no idea the USFL even existed. But I believe in this book and I love this book, so I’ve interviewed more than 400 players, coaches, administrators, reporters, fans—and now I’m pretty much done.

A few days ago, however, someone from NFL Films asked if I was planning on attending the upcoming Philadelphia Stars reunion.

“Um, the what?”

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It turns out the Stars were reuniting this weekend in Philadelphia—coincidentally, the same time I was going to be vacationing in central Pennsylvania, roughly two hours from the City of Brotherly Love. So I called the organizer, asked if it’d be cool if I attended … and, well, I went.

My one-word assessment: Awesome.

The reunion was held in a South Philly bar and restaurant. Roughly, oh, 40 members (players, coaches, execs) of the USFL’s two-time title holders attended, ranging from Carl Peterson and Jim Mora to Chuck Fusina and William Fuller. I’m pretty sure this was my first-ever team reunion, and it felt very much like members of a military platoon coming together 30 years post-Vietnam. Why? Because  even with the decades having passed, and the muscle transformed into fat, and the hair replaced by bald, and athletic struts replaced by careful shuffles, those assembled embraced as if they were long-lost brothers. There were no racial divides, no political divides, no geographical divides. The love was tangible, and easily displayed via thick hugs and deep laughs.

From a personal standpoint, I was overcome by glee. The USFL has been my life. I’ve dug, absorbed, embraced. And here, at long last, was the ending I sought. No, the men were not famous or (for the most part) wealthy. There were no autograph seekers, and Philly doesn’t long for the Stars or the USFL.

But if bonds matter, this was the most important night of these people’s lives.

That’s priceless.

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  • Kyle Smith

    Nice picture of my helmet!

  • RobertT1977

    An amazing team. Played in all three USFL Championship games.

  • Paul

    After reading your good review of Paul Reeths’ USFL book, I purchased a copy and am loving it. My wife caught me watching the 1984 USFL Championship on my iPad last night and asked “Really? REALLY?” As a Tar Heel, the Stars were my team because of Fuller, Kelvin Bryant, and John Bunting. That’s fantastic that you were able to attend their reunion. Looking forward to your book!

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life