The original USFL lasted from 1982 through 1986. A team by the name of the Pittsburgh Maulers competed in that league’s 1984 season, going 3-15, with two wins over the Washington Federals, who debuted in 1983 and folded after the 1984 season.
A new incarnation of the Maulers, in a new incarnation of the USFL, was set to headline an action-packed day of football yesterday on Easter, the fourth game of the league’s inaugural weekend, with the Birmingham Stallions claiming the first-ever win, followed by victories for the Houston Gamblers and the New Orleans Breakers.
Inclement weather, however, prevented the Maulers from taking the field for the first time in nearly 40 years, their debut delayed to tonight, at 7 PM, the game set to air on F1 inside of Protective Stadium, in the city of Birmingham, where all of the league’s games will be played this year (some late-season games at Legion Field).
We already previewed the Maulers yesterday in anticipation of their first game being played, and we intend to follow their season as we did the Birmingham Iron in the AAF in 2019, a team that was (indirectly) associated with the Steelers.
Most notably, their head coach is Kirby Wilson, who spent seven years in Pittsburgh as the Steelers’ running backs coach, hired by Mike Tomlin in 2007 and lasting until 2013. He was considered a favorite to take over the offensive coordinator job before suffering significant injuries in a house fire. He has had numerous other running backs coach jobs since then, but was out of the league in 2021.
The Maulers are, interestingly, one of the only teams in the USFL with no players who spent any time with the Steelers, at least to the best of my knowledge, even if they are being coached by a man who spent seven years on their staff.
It’s worth noting that former fullback Will Johnson is on the Maulers’ coaching staff as running backs coach, so that is one player tie, even if not in the same capacity. Wilson coached him for two years in 2012-13, and he played for the Steelers through the 2015 season, signing with the New York Giants in 2016, but he had his career effectively ended by injury.
The Maulers were always scheduled to be the last game of the opening weekend, so that still holds true. We only have to wait a day longer. We will be sure to talk about what transpires tonight as they go up against Todd Haley’s Tampa Bay Bandits. It’s only a shame they can’t truly call Pittsburgh ‘home’, at least in 2022. Perhaps if the league survives into next season, teams can play in their own cities.