Jeff Pearlman

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The 25 best players in USFL history: No. 7—Chuck Fusina

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I am counting down the top 25 players in USFL history, concluding with the announcement of the No. 1 guy on Sept. 10—the eve of the release date for Football for a Buck.

The list comes after years of writing and researching my book, as well as a lifetime of loving the long, lost spring football league.

There have been books throughout my career that were written because the moment was right. There have been books throughout my career that felt like pure labor (sorry, Roger Clemens). But Football for a Buckis pure passion. Everything about the USFL spoke to me. The colors. The uniforms. The nicknames. The stars. The scrubs. It felt real and gritty and authentic.

Hence, the book.

Hence, the list.

Also, a quick point: This has 0 to do with what the players later became. NFL accomplishments are insignificant here. It’s all about the USFL.

So, with no further ado …

No. 7: Chuck Fusina

Quarterback

Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars (1983-85)

OK, so this is where things start getting really tricky.

Stars quarterback Chuck Fusina is ranked seventh. He could easily be ranked first. It all depends on how one views these things; on what one values. On the one hand, Chuck Fusina is the winningest quarterback in USFL history. He guided his team to all three league championship games, winning two of them. Plus, his statistics are really good. Fusina’s 66 career touchdowns are paired with 33 interceptions (this is at a time when far more passes were picked off). He ranks second in league history with 10,051 passing yards, just a tad behind Bobby Hebert.

And yet … there are arguments to be made against Fusina’s greatness. First, he was part of the USFL’s dominant franchise, overflowing with superb offensive linemen, a legendary halfback (Kelvin Bryant), a fleet of quality wide receivers and a meticulous attack. The Stars rarely asked Fusina to do anything dynamic. Just run the offense, keep the chains moving, don’t screw up.

So, well, I have him here. A strong, worthwhile seventh.

In NFL terms, Fusina is Chad Pennington. And, truly, I believe he could have been Chad Pennington had any teams given him a legitimate opportunity. Yet after spending three years backing up Doug Williams in Tampa Bay, then three years owning the USFL, Fusina received but a slight cup o’ Joe in Green Bay before his career ended.

Chuck Fusina: Not mind-blowing. Just damn good.

From Football for a Buck

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Player No. 25: Tim Spencer

Player No. 24: Chuck Clanton

Player No. 23: Maurice Carthon

Player No. 22: Marcus Marek

Player No. 21: Jimmy Smith

Player No. 20: John Reaves

Player No. 19: Richard Johnson

Player No. 18: Irv Eatman

Player No. 17: Peter Raeford

Player No. 16: Trumaine Johnson

Player No. 15: David Greenwood

Player No. 14: Joey Walters

Player No. 13: Gary Zimmerman

Player No. 12: Reggie White

Player No. 11: John Corker

Player No. 10: Luther Bradley

Player No. 9: Anthony Carter

Player No. 8: Gary Anderson

Player No. 7: Chuck Fusina

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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