Jeff Pearlman, who has written several New York Times bestsellers, has a new book on the rise and fall of the United State Football League, on sale starting Sept. 11.
Pearlman, a Mahopac High School graduate and former New Rochelle resident, will be visiting Westchester from his home on the West Coast for a Scarsdale book-signing on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
In "Football for a Buck," the dogged reporter and biographer draws on more than 400 interviews to unearth all the salty, untold stories of one of the craziest but shortest pro-sports experiments: the United State Football League.
Pearlman said he fell in love with the newness of the spring football league as an 11-year-old, spotting 1982 Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the Mahopac Public Library in an issue that previewed the New Jersey Generals.
Walker began his professional football career with the New Jersey Generals before joining the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. In the NFL, Walker also played for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants
Pearlman called this eighth book his "dream book," one that he always wanted to write. In fact, as a Mahopac High School senior who graduated in 1990, he wrote a 40-page paper on the downfall of the USFL.
Through his extensive research, Pearlman found that a young Donald Trump tried to manipulate other USFL team owners and position himself all along for what Trump hoped could become a lucrative merger with the NFL. It never materialized and the USFL folded after three years in 1985. Trump owned his New Jersey team from 1984 to 1985.
"I frickin' loved the USFL so much. I always thought it would be a great subject,'' Pearlman told Daily Voice.
The new USFL fared very well its first year, Pearlman believes and then Trump bought the New Jersey team in the second season with grandiose plans of luring the NFL into a potential merger.
"It was all about him getting a football team that would eventually be an NFL team," Pearlman said. "He just ruined the USFL."
Not only was Trump conning others and undermining the young league, but he also stiffed clients including his own public relations agent, reportedly paying him half of what was owed to arrange a key press conference.
"He has a long history of not paying contractors,'' Pearlman said.
Pearlman detailed how hubris, particularly Trump's, led to the league’s abrupt demise, as team owners started to believe the spring league could move to the fall and challenge the NFL’s supremacy, resulting in an antimonopoly case that virtually bankrupted the league in 1985 and led to owners abandoning their teams while players jumped to the NFL or faded into obscurity, as detailed here by Publishers' Weekly.
Pearlman wrote his first six books while living in New Rochelle and a bestseller on quarterback Brett Favre after moving to Orange County, California, four years ago.
Pearlman's Sept. 12 book-signing begins at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble Eastchester store at 680 Post Road, Scarsdale.
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