Thursday, February 20, 2014

Staggs, Generals make up A11FL’s ‘Gridiron Titans Rivalry’

Whenever Chicago and the New York/New Jersey area face off in a major sporting event, it’s big news.

And why not? Whenever you have the United States’ No. 1 television market (New York) going against the No. 3 television market (Chicago) in a high-stakes game, no matter what the sport, it’s going to grab some attention. Remember the New York Giants vs. the Chicago Bears in the 1980s? How about the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks in the 1990s? Or the New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks seemingly since hockey began?

The A11 Professional Football League’s “Gridiron Titans Rivalry” will feature its two teams in those top-three media markets – the re-branded New Jersey Generals and the Chicago Staggs. The Generals are back after a three-year run in the United States Football League (1983-85) which featured everything from a young star running back in Herschel Walker to a rookie quarterback named Doug Flutie to a boisterous cancerous force from within in owner Donald Trump.

The Staggs are rooted in the history of football, as the team’s name pays homage to Amos Alonzo Stagg, who was the Head Coach at the University of Chicago from 1892-1932. Stagg, a College Football Hall of Famer both as a player and coach, is considered one of college football’s great early innovators, and U of C won seven Big Ten titles during his run.

Chicago and the New York/New Jersey area have seen many spring outdoor professional football battles in the past. Most recently, the Chicago Enforcers and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen played twice in the XFL’s only season in 2001. The Hitmen won at Soldier Field, 13-0, in Week 4, while the playoff-bound Enforcers won 23-18 in Week 9 at Giants Stadium.

In the USFL, the Generals and the Chicago Blitz met three times in a two-year period. In Week 8 in 1983, the Blitz needed a 27-yard field goal by Frank Corral in overtime to top the Generals, 17-14. In Week 12 that season, Chicago backup quarterback Tim Koegel scored on a 5-yard touchdown run on a fake field goal in OT to down New Jersey, 19-13. Then, in Week 14 of 1984, the Generals used a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to top the Blitz, 21-17.

In total, four of the five all-time spring meetings between Chicago-based and New York/New Jersey-based teams have been decided by six points or less.

Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.

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