Hall of Fame coach George Allen said it would go down as “one of the best games in history.”
But that isn’t how quarterback Chuck Fusina recalled that 1983 USFL semifinal game between his Philadelphia Stars and Allen’s Chicago Blitz – not after his four turnovers in the first half on three interceptions and a fumble that allowed the visiting Blitz to open up a 21-7 halftime lead.
“I can remember going back to the bench late in the second quarter, looking up in the air and saying, `This isn’t going the way I wanted it to,’” Fusina said. “I’m sure the crowd was thinking the same thing and maybe some of our players might have thought the same thing, too. But we had some success that season and came back a lot in games. The team never lost confidence in me. If I was getting down on myself, they wouldn’t let me.”
That confidence in their quarterback paid off, as Fusina recalled in the second game of the Talk of Fame Network’s “5 Games” podcast. Down 38-17 with 12 minutes left in regulation, Fusina rallied the Stars to a 44-38 overtime victory, earning Philadelphia a spot in the inaugural USFL championship game. Fusina threw three touchdown passes to tie the game, then Kelvin Bryant won it with a short tscoring run in overtime.
“That was the career game I was part of, not only on a personal level but for the team because it was just so crazy,” Fusina recalled. “I’ve never been in a game like that where you were so far behind against such a really good team and some really good coaching. The way that flipped around the way it did was mind-boggling. I remember all of us in the lockerroom after the game just looking at each other and saying, `Did that really happen?’ We were very thankful that it did.”
Fusina recalled the small crowd of 15,000 that day — “To me it was like playing in front of 200,000 people,” he said – and the impacts of 1983 USFL MVP Bryant and diminutive-but-dynamic linebacker Sam Mills on those Stars. Fusina called Bryant the Offensive MVP and Mills the USFL MVP of the league’s three-year window. Fusina also tells an amusing story about the time he and Mills appeared on a PBS cooking show that season.
You can listen to the first two games of the Chuck Fusina “5 Games” podcasts – plus other Talk of Fame Network “5 Games” podcasts featuring Hall of Famers Jerry Kramer, as Charles Haley, Jam Ham, Mike Haynes, Willie Lanier and more – at VokalNow.com or by subscribing to our podcasts at iTunes. Click the links below.