Will Donald Trump Do to U.S. What He Did for USFL?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a picture with supporters at the end of a press conference with memb
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a picture with supporters at the end of a press conference with members of the New York Veteran Police Association in Staten Island, New York on April 17, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)


Football, that is "American football", is as American as the spectacle that has become the U.S. Presidential Elections, and Trump has a history with both. The United States Football League, "USFL", was an aspiring competitor to the establishment NFL (National Football League) in the early 1980's. The USFL was already making an imprint by being different, from the individualism it inspired with fans in the stands to liberating the game from some rules. It was success compared to most revolutions which are extinguished in the phase from imagination to realization. And, then came Donald Trump...

Ambition and self-promotion, like so many late comers to the cause, Trump was more vocal against the establishment but in the end more fatal to his fellow rebels, and the revolution. The USFL for him was not big enough, or, more accurately, for his ambition. He had milked the USFL cameras to focus on him even as much or more than on the players, coaches and cheerleaders, the soldiers on the field.

Trump Sues and Wins but USFL Loses:

Trump had bought the New Jersey Generals USFL franchise, which also had the best player in all of football, NFL or USFL, Herschel Walker. Trump perhaps sought Walker's limelight or maybe in his own mind he was the bigger star. Trump soon forced the USFL to make some fatal moves, while promising that a legal suit against the establishment NFL would deliver greater riches for all -- Trump back then also threatened and did duel with his lawyers as bullets all the time.

The anti-monopoly lawsuit against the NFL did prevail. However, the jury awarded only $1 of damages to the USFL, in part citing Trump for self-inflicted wounds to the USFL. Unfortunately though, the USFL never recovered from this deepest cut. The new league had provided jobs for thousands who worked behind the scenes and fought in the pits, including one of my former teammates at Tulane University, Chuck Pitcock, Jr., a starting offensive lineman. In the end, his and the dreams of many others were cut short, extinguished by the judgment as well as greed of Donald Trump.

Chuck Pitcock had played for an USFL team called the Tampa Bay Bandits, which was partially owned by Burt Reynolds. Besides being a star of such popular films as Smokey & the Bandit, Boogie Nights (also produced by another Tulane alumni Lawrence Gordon and one of my favorites) and The Longest Yard, the original and best, Burt Reynolds also played college football. The Bandits majority owner John Basset sought to stand up to what he perceived as Donald Trump's vision and plans for the USFL as being both dangerous and inconsistent with the USFL's foundation. However, eventually Basset succumbed to a battle with cancer and Trump's promises to the other USFL team owners who bought into the Donald's story. After winning his case, Trump left the $3.00 check (damages are trebled in anti-trust cases) to the owners, and then he unceremoniously abandoned them and the USFL.


Trump wants to Lead the Rebellion but he Betrayed the Revolution with Ambition to be the Establishment

If you cannot yet see through what a Trump Presidency would mean for the U.S., then just look three decades back to Trump taking control of the USFL. Trump tells the cameras in the ESPN documentary, Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL, that perhaps rather than buying into the USFL, he should have bought into the established NFL, (National Football League.) Guess they would not have him or he could not buy them, so Trump sought to buy into and then dictate to the rebellion in the form of the USFL. In the end, Trump failed the revolution and those who trusted and supported him. He then quickly moved on leaving the victims of his ambition with the epithet as "small potatoes."

I love football, American football, played it, had it pay for my college via scholarship and would have played beyond, if I only had the exceptional talent required in the NFL, or USFL. Aspiring to be a pro or even college football player requires not only talent but also a commitment and respect for your fellow teammates. "Pitcock," as we called him because the name fit a character on and off the field, was a "good ole boy" from Florida on a team of diverse personalities. Some on the team were perhaps more inclined to braggadocio while others exuded a quiet confidence. We all had the privilege to share the locker room on a team that was regularly rated among the top 20 of US college teams, had achieved some memorable victories, (including over our arch rival and perennial power LSU), and many of whose members went on to become medical doctors and as many professional football players. Part of Tulane's resurgence and then success was the new openness to diversity -- we were among the first teams to recruit African-American football players. Success at a team and individual level had generally more than a pinch of ego, but all of that and braggadocio had to be left at the door of the locker room. Narcissism would not be tolerated regardless of how great a talent you were and empty rhetoric would soon be exposed, by opponents and your own team.

Confusing Braggadocio with Promise?

Trump never played my game or shared the locker room with my teammates. I still love football and America, decades after having arrived to the U.S. as an young immigrant and becoming one of that team. Football has taught me how to be both a teammate and a fellow citizen. (Read: "Growing up a 'Patriot'".) President Bill Clinton in his book, My Life, speaks glowingly of my role as a football player. In respect to my former teammates and to maintain the mutual respect of that locker room, I always point out that my success though was more modest than Bill's credits. However, the lessons learned, the respect developed for individualism and diversity and the idea of my ego having to be fit into a team goal have made my American experience possible, and more.     

Trump has had numerous bites at the apple, and his American dream has been resurrected on more than one occasion -- but then enough money can allow you to leave football leagues, hotels, casinos and Trump University in the junk yard of memories. Fortunately in 2009, a former associate of Trump and USFL filmmaker Mike Tolin produced "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL" well before Donald initiated upon another self-promotion engagement as US Presidential candidate.  (Watch Dailymotion video: "30 for 30 - Who Killed the USFL") My old teammate "Pitcock" plays a starring role along with Burt Reynolds and countless former Trump foes and associates who give America a glimpse of what to expect from one who knows no team but demands absolute loyalty and obedience. Trumps wants to be the General, until he jumps off.

To the memory of Chuck Pitcock who passed away: February 20, 1958 - January 11, 2016


PHOTOS: swordandscale.com

intheminors.sportsblog.com: Pitcock Embodied the Bandits, USFL Spirit