Jeff Pearlman

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In Vic Fangio, the USFL lives

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So the Denver Bronocs hired Vic Fangio as its head coach two days ago, which means many things to many people and one thing—in particular—to me.

Namely, the USFL lives on.

The last player to have competed in the USFL retired nearly two decades ago. Most of the coaching lineage reps (John Fox, Steve Mariucci) have moved on from the pro ranks. The USFL is largely a ghost of grid past, fading … fading … fading …

But wait!

Back in 1984, Fangio kicked off his professional coaching career by being hired by Jim Mora to serve as a defensive assistant for the Philadelphia Stars—the league’s best team and back-to-back champions. There is very little written about Fangio from the era, but I did find this in the Oct. 11, 1984 Philadelphia Daily News …

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In case you didn’t read my USFL book, “Football for a Buck,” or simply didn’t follow the league back in the day, Fangio was working with some really strong characters. Along with Mora, the head coach who would bring Fangio with him to the National Football League in 1986, Fangio was coaching such future NFL standouts as Sam Mills, William Fuller, Garcia Lane and Pete Kugler (who actually played with the 49ers, then the Stars, then the 49ers again). For a young, up-and-coming coach (Vic was hired at age 25), Philadelphia was the best place to be in the USFL. Mora offered a master class in Xs and Os, Mills was an instructor’s delight, Fuller couldn’t be stopped off the edge. In short, the Stars were a smart, detailed, introspective cast of characters.

Plus, when the Stars relocated to Maryland for the ’85 season, there was the occasional free meal …Screen Shot 2019-01-10 at 10.46.02 AM

 

 

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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