This day in sports: NFL ordered to pay USFL $3 in damages

NFL shield
The National Football League was found guilty of violating an antitrust law on this date in 1986.
(Tom Puskar / Associated Press)

The National Football League was found guilty of violating an antitrust law on this date in 1986, but survived the United States Football League’s $1.69-billion suit when a jury of five women and one man awarded damages of just $3 to the failing football league.

The verdict came after about two years of pretrial litigation and 2½ months of trial testimony in New York’s U.S. District Court.

Although the decision discredited the NFL, it undermined the future of the USFL, which had planned to switch its season to the fall in direct competition with the NFL.


A number of NFL teams had the rights to several of the USFL’s star players, which included Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, Doug Williams and Kelvin Bryant. The Rams made New Jersey quarterback Doug Flutie one of their 1985 draft choices.

Here is a look at other memorable moments and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1957 — Floyd Patterson scored a technical knockout over Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson at 1:52 of the 10th round to retain his heavyweight title before a crowd of 18,101 at the Polo Grounds in New York. Patterson was a 5-1 favorite even though he had not fought in eight months. Jackson suffered a bruised kidney and was hospitalized after the fight.

1960 — A reported 100,000 fans lined a parade route in Buffalo to welcome the Bills, one of the original franchises of the new American Football League. The next day the Bills played the first AFL preseason game against the Boston Patriots, who were led to a 28-7 victory by quarterback Bruce Songin before 16,474 fans at War Memorial Stadium.

1979 — Amy Alcott shot a seven-under-par 285 to beat Nancy Lopez by three shots in the Peter Jackson Classic at Richelieu Country Club in Quebec. Alcott started the final round with a two-stroke advantage over Lopez and increased it with a three-under 70 to Lopez’s 71. The tournament was later renamed the Canadian Women’s du Maurier Classic, one of the LPGA Tour’s major tournaments from 1979 to 2000.

1989 — Javier Sotomayor, 22, of Cuba, became the first high jumper to clear eight feet at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sotomayor, viewed by many in track and field as the best ever in the event, broke his world record of 7-11½. His jump was measured at 2.44 meters, which converted to 8.005249 feet.

1990 — Beth Daniel erased a five-stroke deficit when she shot a final-round 66 to win the Mazda LPGA Championship at Bethesda (Md.) Country Club. Daniel beat Rosie Jones by a stroke and earned $150,000, the largest winner’s payoff in LPGA Tour history. The win was Daniel’s only major tournament victory in almost 26 years as a professional.


1992 — The U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay team won the gold medal at the Summer Games in Barcelona when it beat a Unified team made up of swimmers from 12 of the 15 former Soviet-bloc republics. The American team of Joe Hudepohl, Matt Biondi, Tom Jager and Jon Olsen swam in a winning time of 3:16.74 to the Unified team’s 3:17.56.

1996 — The United States had a gold-medal day at the Summer Games in Atlanta when Michael Johnson ran to an Olympic 400-meter record of 43.49 seconds. Later, Carl Lewis long-jumped 27 feet 10½ inches to win his ninth and final gold medal, equaling the American mark held by swimmer Mark Spitz.

2008 — Former NBA official Tim Donaghy admitted he brought shame on his profession when he was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for betting on games that he officiated in the 2006 and 2007 seasons and that he made calls that affected the point spread in those games. Donaghy, who was sent to a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla., served as an NBA referee from 1994 to 2007.

2012 — Dana Vollmer of the United States set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly at the Summer Olympics in London when she touched the wall first in 55.98 seconds, shaving eight-hundredths of a second off the mark set by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden at the 2009 world championships in Rome. Vollmer, a graduate of California, swam a smooth and powerful second half to beat China’s Ying Lu and Australia’s Alicia Coutts.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press