By Rockin’ Reese
The Birmingham Stallions
The city of Birmingham, Alabama is known for being a key city in the civil rights movement, the home the Vulcan statue (the world’s largest cast iron statue), and the former hometowns of (country music star) Tammy Wynette and (star of “Friends” & the “Scream” franchise) Courteney Cox. However, since 2022, they have been home to a team that has brought 2 USFL Championships to the city…the Birmingham Stallions.
The Stallions were a franchise of the original USFL in 1983. In the league’s 3-season history, they missed the playoffs in 1983, despite having a 9-9 record. In 1984, the Stalllions & the Tampa Bay Bandits had a 14-4 record in the eastern conference’s southern division, but the Stallions would win the division, because the Bandits were 6-2 in the division, while the Stallions had a 7-1 divisional record (with their only loss coming against the Bandits, in the week 18 finale).
In their 3rd meeting of the season, the Stallions would defeat the Bandits in the divisional playoffs. In the eastern conference championship game, the Stallions were looking to avenge an embarrassing 43-11 home loss against the Philadelphia Stars. However, they couldn’t return the favor in Philly, as the Stars would defeat them, en route to becoming USFL Champions. In 1985, the Stallions would get the top seed in the eastern conference by having a 13-5 record. They would defeat the Houston Gamblers in the quarter-finals. Despite sweeping the Baltimore Stars (who relocated from Philly, during the off-season), history would repeat itself in the semi-finals. The Stars defeated the Stallions before winning another USFL Championship.
When the league returned, last year, so did the Stallions. Unlike their predecessors, these Stallions weren’t just settling for good records. They wanted to finish the job & bring home the championship. With all of the regular season games being played in Birmingham, the league could focus on how to structure itself, in the future. Likewise, they could see if Birmingham would support these Stallions, as good as (or better than) they did the original team.
They were stampeding toward a perfect season, until they ran into the Gamblers in week 9. However, they would recover by defeating the Bandits in week 10 to finish with a league-best 9-1 record, then defeating the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL South Division Championship game. Though it had been 37 years, since they played the Stars (who returned to Philly) in the playoffs, the Stallions had a bad taste in their mouth that they wanted to get rid of.
In a game, where both starting quarterback were injured, the Stallions finally defeated the Stars in a playoff game & became USFL Champions, thanks to (Stars backup quarterback) KJ Costello throwing a “pick 6” to (Stallions linebacker) Scooby Wright. (Stallions wide receiver) Victor Bolden Jr. would be the championship game MVP, with 6 catches for 64 yards (including an 8-yard touchdown) & 4 kick returns for 92 yards (including a 43-yard return).
Their 2023 campaign would get off to a shaky 3-2 start (with a week 3 loss to the Breakers & a week 5 loss to the Gamblers), but they would finish strongly with a 5-game winning streak, including defeating the Breakers & Gamblers. That would give the Stallions an 8-2 record, which meant they would finish with the league’s best record for the 2nd season in a row.
Alex McGough (who became their starting quarterback, after being a backup, last season) earned the honor of being this year’s league MVP. After defeating the Breakers again in the USFL South Division Championship, they would defeat the Pittsburgh Maulers to become 2-time USFL Champions. With 4 catches for 70 yards (3 of his catches being touchdowns), the championship game MVP was (Stallions wide receiver) Deon Cain. Birmingham is riding high in professional football & the Stallions want to race their way to a 3-peat.