USFL Draft : Generals Pick Flutie and Four Teammates in Territorial Portion
Quarterback Doug Flutie, the Heisman Trophy winner from Boston College, was among the 13 first-team All-Americans chosen Thursday by United States Football League clubs in their third annual draft.
The New Jersey Generals, with the rights to Boston College players under the league’s territorial system, chose Flutie and four of his teammates--All-American defensive back Tony Thurman, wide receiver Gerard Phelan, tight end Scott Gieselman and defensive back Todd Russell.
The National Football League will draft April 30 and the Buffalo Bills, with the worst record at 2-14, have the first pick and are free to negotiate with the player of their choice.
“If the money and the situation were the same, I would sign with the NFL,” Flutie said from Honolulu, where he is preparing for the Hula Bowl. “But there will be many factors involved.”
The signing of Flutie by the Generals would give them another Heisman Trophy winner to go with running back Herschel Walker of Georgia, the 1982 winner. The USFL also has the 1983 Heisman winner in Mike Rozier, former Nebraska running back who played last year with the Pittsburgh Maulers, a team that folded. Rozier’s rights now belong to the Baltimore Stars, formerly the Philadelphia Stars.
In the open section of the 15-round draft, 221 players were chosen, with wide receiver Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley State picked first, by the Birmingham Stallions.
The USFL, bidding for survival, will try to outbid the NFL for players, but in many cases, teams from the new league will not be able to afford more than one high-priced athlete.
That is not the case for Generals’ owner Donald Trump. The Generals are seeking another attraction in the prime metropolitan New York area and will be needing a replacement for veteran Brian Sipe at quarterback.
Trump, the multimillionaire builder and most visible owner in the league, was conspicuous by his absence Thursday at both the hotel where the draft was conducted and at the Generals’ offices.
Jay Seltzer, Generals’ president, said: “If (Flutie) decides to wait for the NFL draft, he may be selected by a team in disarray. He may be faced with the prospect of being savior of a decimated football program. Here, it is just the opposite. We have a 35-year-old quarterback who was MVP of the NFL in 1980 and he has the temperament to help (Flutie).”
Terry Bledsoe, Buffalo’s general manager, said Flutie was among several players under consideration as the No. 1 pick.
Under the USFL’s territorial system, each of the 14 teams--down four from last season--had six designated schools from which to make 25 choices.
The Generals also used a territorial pick to select Colgate quarterback Steve Calabria, who at 6 feet 3 inches is considered a top pro prospect by many scouts.
Baltimore chose two All-Americans--defensive end Bruce Smith, the Outland Trophy winner from Virginia Tech, and Pitt tackle Bill Fralic.
Other All-Americans picked were wide receiver Eddie Brown of Miami, tight end Mark Bavaro of Notre Dame and tackle Lomas Brown of Florida by the Orlando Renegades, formerly the Washington Federals; linebacker Gregg Carr of Auburn, by Birmingham; defensive back Jerry Gray of Texas, by the San Antonio Gunslingers, and center Mike Traynowicz of Nebraska by the Houston Gamblers as their top choice, ninth overall, in the open draft. The Denver Gold had the rights to Nebraska players but skipped Traynowicz.
The Tampa Bay Bandits announced the signing of one of their territorial picks, Russell Gallon, a 6-8, 295-pound defensive end from Florida.
San Antonio also selected defensive tackle Tony Degrate, the Lombardi Trophy winner from Texas, in the territorial phase.