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Can Any Team Stop Michigan?

Call it the division nobody wanted to play in.

When the United States Football League sat down to its annual meetings in Houston last October to realign itself, there were only a couple of concerns, like where to put New Orleans (formerly Boston) and what to do with the Michigan Panthers, champions of the new league.

"Nobody wanted Michigan in their division," said Vince Lombardi, president/general manager of the Panthers.

Make sense.  The Panthers, after a 1-4 start, put the pieces together in 1983 to win the USFL's inaugural championship, defeating the Philadelphia Stars, 24-22, in the title game at Denver's Mile High Stadium.

At the end, there was little doubt that the Panthers were the USFL's best team.  They had the best balance and the best talent.  They signed more draft choices than any other team - including safety David Greenwood, who was No. 1 in the open phase, and wide receiver Anthony Carter, the top territorial pick.  Both became stars instantly.

The list of top young players didn't stop there.  There was quarterback Bobby Herbert, the strong-armed Cajun from Cutoff, LA., who passed for 27 touchdowns and 3,568 yards; fullback Ken Lacy, who was third in USFL rushing with 1,180 yards (behind Herschel Walker and Kelvin Bryant); wide receiver Derek Holloway, the Smurf from Arkansas who teamed with Carter to give the Panthers the top 1-2 deep threat; and center Wayne Radloff.

Then there were the veterans - linebacker John Corker, offensive linemen Ray Pinney and Tyron McGriff, cornerback Clarence Chapman, tight end Mike Cobb, and running back Cleo Miller.

They're all back for USFL II and they make the Panthers the team to beat.

Anthony Carter made the jump from stardom at the University of Michigan to Stardom in the USFL.