USFL’s best QB? It’s Kelly


(Chuck Fusina photo courtesy of Penn State University)

Talk of Fame Network

Bobby Hebert passed for the most yards in USFL history, and fellow quarterback Chuck Fusina won the most championships.

But when it comes down to the best quarterback ever to play in the USFL, Jim Kelly is a comfortable winner, according to last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Kelly received 36.5 percent of the vote, followed by Fusina at 25.4 and Hebert at 19.0.

Steve Young, Doug Williams and John Reaves also finished in single digits in the voting.

Kelly played only two of the three seasons the USFL was around in the 1980s but was voted first-team all-league each year. He passed for a pro-football record 5,219 yards as a rookie in the Run & Shoot offense of Mouse Davis in 1984, then passed for another 4,623 yards in 1985. His 83 TD passes stand as the USFL record.

Kelly was a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1983 but elected to sign with the USFL. He reported to the Bills when the USFL folded and went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, taking Buffalo to four consecutive Super Bowls (1990-93).

Hebert passed for 13,137 yards and took his teams — the Michigan Panthers in 1983 and the Oakland Invaders in 1985 – to two USFL title games. He won at Michigan but lost at Oakland. Fusina won more games (48) than any quarterback in league history and took the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars to all three USFL title games, winning the last two.

(Bobby Hebert photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints)

Talk of Fame Network co-hosts Ron Borges and Rick Gosselin cast their votes for Fusina, and fellow host Clark Judge cast his for Kelly.

“I go not by what I saw in the NFL,” Borges said, “but by what they did in the USFL. That makes Chuck Fusina the best QB in USFL history if one goes by two measures: his numbers and his ring collection.”


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