Eleven years ago the United States Football League, the high-rolling springtime challenge to the established pro football order, folded after only its third season. Today 11 of the 159 USFL players who went on to the NFL remain active, and through last weekend nearly all were strong, even vital, contributors to their teams. The group includes Herschel Walker (left), who was the league's first bonus baby when he signed for $1.5 million a year with the New Jersey Generals in 1983. Here's a look at the full cast.
William Fuller, defensive end, San Diego Chargers ( NFL)
Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars ( USFL): First-team All- USFL selection in 1985, when he had 8� sacks and helped Stars win title; four-time NFL All-Pro had 15 sacks in '91; has 16 tackles, two sacks this year.
Mel Gray, kick returner, Tennessee Oilers
Los Angeles Express: In 1984 scored winning TD (and broke arm) in longest pro game ever, L.A.'s 27-21 triple-overtime win over Michigan Panthers; averaging 9.1 yards on punt returns this year.
George Jamison, linebacker, Detroit Lions
Stars: Emerged from Stars' developmental squad to help win two championships; Detroit's 1991 defensive MVP; has 27 tackles this season.
Sean Landeta, punter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stars: In 1984 set USFL record with a 52.3-yard single-game average; two-time All-Pro as a New York Giant; recently signed with Bucs, has averaged 42.9 yards on 20 punts.
Sam Mills, linebacker, Carolina Panthers
Stars: Undersized (5'9") and unrecognized out of Montclair ( N.J.) State, became USFL poster boy with two all-league selections and two titles; an NFL All-Pro five times, including last year at 38; ranks fourth on Panthers with 60 tackles.
Nate Newton, guard, Dallas Cowboys
Tampa Bay Bandits: The fat, mediocre USFL lineman became a phat, superstar Cowboy, making five Pro Bowls in the last five seasons; still one of Aikman's main men.
Gary Plummer, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
Oakland Invaders: Oakland's career tackle leader, including 162 in 1983; after pacing Chargers in tackles three times as one of NFL's top run stoppers, joined 49ers in '95; has 60 tackles in '97.
Herschel Walker, running back, Cowboys
Generals: USFL's alltime leading rusher, with 5,562 yards; has 17,493 total yards in NFL (second-highest total ever); his 64-yard TD catch on Oct. 19 beat Jacksonville Jaguars.