Snapshots of History

The Philadelphia Stars: Philadelphia’s Other Pro Football Team

When most people think of professional football in Philadelphia, the topic is usually The Philadelphia Eagles. Fair enough then, as they have been around since 1931 and since the NFL is by far the most prominent professional football league in all of sports. However, it should be noted that between 1984 and 1986, there was another prominent pro football team here. That team would be the Philadelphia Stars of the long-defunct USFL (United States Football League), who won the league championship in two of three seasons in which the league existed and appeared in all three championship games. Technically, though, they were only a Philadelphia-based team for 2 of those 3 seasons as after the 1985 season, they moved to Baltimore. Despite this, they kept their operations here in Philadelphia, though this led to them essentially playing every game on the road.

The Office of the City Representative photo collection at the Philadelphia City Archives includes a few images from the victory parade (see below). The victory parade was held in July 1984 after the Stars beat the Arizona Wranglers in the championship game of the USFL’s second season.  The game was held in Tampa, Florida’s Tampa Stadium, which was demolished in 1999.

Philadelphia Stars victory parade circa 1984.
Philadelphia Stars victory parade circa 1984.

The Stars had future NFL stars like Bart Oates and Sean Landeta (both future New York Giants player who won 5 Super Bowl rings between them) as part of the championship crew and others like Sam Mills, a future All-Pro for the New Orleans Saints were also on the roster. Their coach for all 3 seasons was Jim Mora, who later went on to successful NFL coaching career with The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Though largely forgotten now, a movie about the team and its role in the development of the USFL is currently in development.