Jul 1, 2022 - Sports

Philadelphia Stars soar to inaugural USFL championship

A photo of Philadelphia Stars wide receiver Maurice Alexander (wearing No. 13) celebrating during the USFL playoff game against the New Jersey Generals.
Philadelphia Stars wide receiver Maurice Alexander celebrates after a punt return during the USFL playoff game against the New Jersey Generals June 25. Photo: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Philadelphia again finds itself with a shot at a championship, led by a backup quarterback.

Driving the news: The Philadelphia Stars face the Birmingham Stallions in the inaugural championship game of the newly rebooted United States Football League on Sunday at 7:30pm.

Why it matters: With a strong defense and knack for carving out big plays, like Maurice Alexander's game-clinching 87-yard punt return last Saturday, the Stars have a solid chance of winning it all, Sam Just, a reporter for non-affiliated news site USFL News Hub, tells Axios.

Plus: All eight teams have played the entire inaugural season in Birmingham, Alabama, but the league is considering adding a northern hub city as a host, Cleveland.com reports. And Philly appears to be a top contender.

  • "I'd love to see that northern hub get into the Philadelphia area ... so now you can attract from New Jersey, you can attract fans from Pittsburgh," Daryl Johnston, USFL EVP of football operations, told reporters last week.

The big picture: The spring league is among the latest attempts to capitalize on part of the year that isn't already dominated by the NFL, Axios' Jeff Tracy reports.

  • It's attracted early- and mid-career players looking to develop their skills and showcase their talents on cable TV.
  • The league has even designed new rules and planned tech features, like footballs that "glow" when they cross the goal line, to capture fans' attention.

By the numbers: USFL averaged slightly less than 700,000 viewers in its regular season broadcasts, and Philly wasn't among the league's top 10 television markets, USFL News Hub reports.

Catch up fast: The Stars (6-4) secured a playoff run with quarterback Case Cookus after starting QB Bryan Scott was sidelined in early May due to a knee injury.

  • The Stallions (9-1) are favored this weekend, but there's a bright spot: Birmingham's offense has started to look shaky over the last few weeks, Just says.

The bottom line: The Philadelphia Stars won two championship titles in the original USFL in the 1980s.

  • While the current league isn't affiliated with the popular USFL that folded after just a few seasons roughly 37 years ago, the Stars kept their name and a similar color scheme. We'll have to wait until Sunday to see whether the red and yellow can keep their crowning legacy.

How to watch: The game will air on Fox and the Fox Sports app.

A photograph of Philadelphia Stars running back Kelvis Bryant, in a No. 44 jersey, back in 1983.
Philadelphia Stars running back Kelvin Bryant during a USFL game against the Birmingham Stallions in Philadelphia, circa 1983. Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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