1983 Michigan Panthers season
|1983 Michigan Panthers football|
|1983 record||12-6 ( )|
|Head coach||Jim Stanley (1st season)|
|Home stadium||Pontiac Silverdome|
Michigan held its first training camp at City Island Stadium in Daytona Beach, Florida, sifting through over 75 players.
On Monday, March 7, 1983; the Panthers opened the season with a 9-7 win over the Birmingham Stallions at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. This was the first professional football game ever broadcast on ESPN. Serbian kicker (via Central Michigan) Novo Bojovic kicked the winning field goal from 48 yards out in the waning moments.
The Panthers then dropped their next four contests, losing on March 12 to the Tampa Bay Bandits (19-7); Mar. 19 at home to the Oakland Invaders (33-27); Mar. 27 at the Washington Federals (22-16 in OT) and April 4 at home to the Denver Gold (29-21). Their slow start was attributed mostly due to a very porous offensive line that struggled to create holes or time for their offensive stars. Management addressed the issue by signing a bevy of experienced offensive linemen in OT Ray Pinney (Pittsburgh Steelers), OG Tyrone McGriff (Pittsburgh Steelers) and OG Thom Dornbrook (NY Giants). Dornbrook and McGriff would both make USFL all-league teams in 1983.
The Panthers had a six-game winning streak. Then, on May 23, they and the Birmingham Stallions were tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter. Michigan would have had the lead, but the extra point attempt was blocked. The game went into overtime and was won by Birmingham thanks to a 46-yard field goal by Stallions placekicker Scott Norwood.
The Panthers would bounce back with a 42-7 thrashing of the stellar Tampa Bay Bandits, coached by future Florida Gators head coach Steve Spurrier. After making those additions, and installing rookie Bobby Hebert as quarterback, the Panthers then won 11 of their next 13 contests and captured the Central Division championship with a 12-6 record.
In the playoffs, the Panthers hosted the Western Division champion Oakland Invaders before a USFL-record crowd of 60,237. The Panthers' decisive 37-21 victory vaulted them to the inaugural USFL Championship Game in Denver, Colorado.
On July 17, 1983, the Panthers captured the USFL's first championship with a 24-22 win over the Atlantic Division champion Philadelphia Stars. QB Bobby Hebert hit WR Anthony Carter on a 48-yard touchdown strike with 11:59 left in the fourth quarter for what proved to be the deciding score. Hebert was named MVP of the game, throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
The Panthers wound up spending $6 million during the season—three times what USFL founder David Dixon recommended that a team spend in a single season. As a result, they had NFL-comparable talent at several positions.
|1983 Michigan Panthers final roster|
|1||March 7||Birmingham Stallions||W 9-7||Legion Field||30,305||ESPN|
|2||March 12||Tampa Bay Bandits||L 7-19||Tampa Stadium||38,789||ABC|
|3||March 19||Oakland Invaders||L 27-33||Pontiac Silverdome||28,952||ESPN|
|4||March 27||Washington Federals||L 16-22 (OT)||RFK Stadium||11,404||ABC|
|5||April 4||Denver Gold||L 21-29||Pontiac Silverdome||11,279||ESPN|
|6||April 10||New Jersey Generals||W 21-6||Giants Stadium||17,648||ABC|
|7||April 17||Chicago Blitz||W 17-12||Pontiac Silverdome||11,634||ABC|
|8||April 23||Los Angeles Express||W 34-24||Pontiac Silverdome||13,184||ESPN|
|9||May 1||Boston Breakers||W 28-24||Nickerson Field||10,971||ABC|
|10||May 7||Arizona Wranglers||W 21-10||Sun Devil Stadium||20,423|
|11||May 16||New Jersey Generals||W 31-24||Pontiac Silverdome||32,862||ESPN|
|12||May 23||Birmingham Stallions||L 20-23 (OT)||Pontiac Silverdome||20,042||ESPN|
|13||May 30||Tampa Bay Bandits||W 43-7||Pontiac Silverdome||23,976||ESPN|
|14||June 5||Philadelphia Stars||L 20-29||Veterans Stadium||19,727||ABC|
|15||June 12||Los Angeles Express||W 42-17||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||16,023|
|16||June 18||Washington Federals||W 27-25||Pontiac Silverdome||26,418|
|17||June 26||Chicago Blitz||W 34-19||Soldier Field||25,041||ABC|
|18||July 3||Arizona Wranglers||W 33-7||Pontiac Silverdome||31,905||ABC|
|SF||July 10||Oakland Invaders||W 37-21||Pontiac Silverdome||60,237||ABC|
|FL||July 17||Philadelphia Stars||W 24-22||Mile High Stadium||50,906||ABC|
Template:Michigan Panthers Template:1983 USFL season
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