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WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 30 years ago, Donald Trump bought a franchise in the upstart United States Football League. He then led his fellow owners to sue the NFL in a high-stakes antitrust case.
The head-on challenge and his ownership of the New Jersey Generals was an early testing ground for the swashbuckling approach that the celebrity businessman-turned-Republican presidential candidate has brought to his 2016 campaign.
"Donald was the big, crazy-spending owner, and the NFL guys were scared to death of him," said Bill Tatham Jr., an owner of the USFL's Arizona Outlaws who came to admire Trump's tactics.
Trump, in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, said his involvement with the league helped it stay alive longer than it would have otherwise, and that his involvement with the team raised his profile.
Before the upstart league,cheap nfl jerseys china, he said, "I was well known,authentic nfl jerseys, but not really well known. After taxes, I would say I lost $3 million. And I got a billion dollars of free publicity."
The USFL was founded with an explicit goal: avoid fights with the NFL. Thanks to novelty and a few marquee players,cheap jerseys from china, most notably the Generals' Hershel Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner, the league got off to a promising start. But by the end of the inaugural 1983 season, enthusiasm had ebbed and some cornerstone franchises were struggling.
That's when Trump bought the Generals.
To people who cared about sports, as opposed to New York development deals, Trump's name wasn't widely known. But the tryouts for the Generals' "Brig-A-Dears" cheerleading squad drew broad coverage, setting the stage for a media bonanza. During the first six months of his ownership, Trump's name appeared 161 times in newspapers — more than it had appeared in the prior four years.
The USFL bled money during its first two years. Owners overspent on talent and the league expanded at a rate that its audience could not justify. Whether fixing these mistakes would have been enough to make a spring league viable remains the subject of heated debate decades later, according to interviews with those involved at the time.
But even if a spring football season were viable, Trump wouldn't have wanted to be part of a league that was going to be "low class, all third-rate players" anyway,nfl jerseys, he said.
Trump frequently drew attention by sparring with the NFL. When the New York Giants got into a public contract dispute with star Lawrence Taylor, Trump wired $1 million into the linebacker's bank account and signed Taylor to a future contract. To get Taylor back, the Giants "gave me a million dollars and hated me ever after," Trump recalls.
With much of the league exhausted and in debt,cheap nfl jerseys, Trump's advocacy for a frontal assault on the NFL ultimately paid off. The case ended up in front of a jury; the NFL painted Trump as the villain. Though jurors found that the NFL was a monopoly, they awarded the USFL only $1 in damages — dooming the league.
"What the NFL did was smart," Trump told the AP. "They purely said, 'This is a Donald Trump thing, and he doesn't need the money.' "
Three decades after the league's collapse,cheap jerseys online, many who participated in it see Trump's presidential campaign as a replay of his football days. Some in lower perches in the league said it was a mistake that Trump persuaded fellow owners to support his attempt to break into the clubby world of the NFL.
"Even if the league wasn't going to make it, that wasn't the way to go out of business," said Doug Allen, who represented the players' union. "He didn't care if he wrecked the league or what happened to players in the long run."
But Tatham and other owners who supported Trump in challenging the USFL say it was a savvy gamble that nearly succeeded,cheap jerseys. They see a parallel in Trump's current campaign.
"I think Donald Trump looks at the United States like his franchise in the USFL," Tatham said. "Don't ever think he doesn't know what he's doing."
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In the winter of 1998,wholesale nfl jerseys, Ethan Casson started calling professional franchise after professional franchise,authentic nfl jerseys, begging them to get his foot in the door in any capacity.
One night,cheap jerseys, a human resources employee for the Minnesota Timberwolves picked up the phone and Casson talked his way into a meeting. He flew from the East Coast, met with several Timberwolves executives and, during the third quarter of a game against the Golden State Warriors,nfl jerseys, was offered an entry-level position on the business side of the operation at $24,000 per year.
"To think that what started as a cold call of me begging an HR person to let me come in and prove my worth 18 years later turned into me coming back as a CEO is amazing and certainly very special to me," Casson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Casson had to sell his car and some other possessions to raise the money to pay for his move from Boston to the Twin Cities, but the leap of faith has paid off. Six years after he left the Timberwolves to climb the ladder with the San Francisco 49ers,cheap jerseys from china, he is returning as CEO to breathe new life into one of the NBA's struggling operations.
Timberwolves President Chris Wright remembered the impression Casson left in those first face-to-face meetings.
"I told him we're going to find a place for you in this franchise because you are exactly the type of person that we want build this franchise around," Wright said.
Casson's first stint with the Timberwolves lasted 11 years. He worked his way up to senior vice president of corporate partnerships and met his future wife here before leaving for the 49ers in 2010.
When he arrived in the Bay Area, the once-proud 49ers were in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought. Their revenue had dropped to near the bottom of the league and they were playing in an outdated stadium that couldn't compete with the shiny new ones popping up around the league. He leaves after helping to secure a 20-year, $220 million naming rights deal with Levi's for the new stadium and rebuilding the franchise's business operations.
The Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since 2004, the longest active drought in the league. That futility has contributed significantly to plummeting revenue and a dwindling season ticket base.
"I'm not saying it's apples to apples, but I certainly feel I've been on a six-year journey that involved a lot of similar themes,cheap jerseys online," Casson said. "And I'll apply all of those lessons to this next phase of my career."
Casson replaces Rob Moor,cheap nfl jerseys, the longtime CEO who stepped aside to work more closely with Wolves owner Glen Taylor's other business interests. At 42 years old, Casson is part of a youth movement coming into the organization. Taylor also brought in 41-year-old New York real estate mogul Meyer Orbach and 35-year-old Chinese entrepreneur John Jiang as minority owners, and he hopes the three of them help bring a new perspective and energy to the business side that mirrors the vibe youngsters Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are bringing to the team.
"I was very aware and respectful that taking on this role wasn't about coming in and fixing things that were broken," Casson said. "I don't look at opportunities like this as somethings not working. I look at it as an opportunity to reset and plot out a different course or a different version of a course that moves the business forward."
The challenges are real. The Timberwolves' competitive dormancy buried them in a crowded sports marketplace. Tickets have been hard to sell and the NFL's Vikings, the NHL's Wild and MLB's Twins are competing for the corporate dollars.
"I've been here for a long time," said Wright, who is entering his 25th season with the Wolves. "I've tried to do it what I consider the best way for the franchise given all of the different sort of environments we've found ourselves in over the last 12 years as we've not been making the playoffs. And I think Ethan is going to just bring a completely fresh, new look to all of that and lead us in the direction we need to be as a club in the 21st century."
The Wolves have one of the most promising young cores in the league, a brand new practice facility in downtown Minneapolis and have begun renovations on the dusty Target Center.
"There's a lot of momentum in and around the organization that made it very exciting for me as a fan and now as someone who is coming back as CEO," he said. "That will come and go. The renovation will eventually be complete. The team will stabilize and be competitive. You still have to make sure the business model is sustainable and drivable. That's what we're going to be."

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Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan was asked what would constitute a successful season for a franchise coming off a 4-12 record and six last-place finishes in the past seven years.
"From the standpoint of wins, it doesn't matter. I mean, it matters, but I'm not going to put a number on it," McCloughan began.
"I know this: When you play the Redskins this year, you're going to know you played us. You're going to feel us, from the standpoint of being physical. The next morning, you're going to be sore," he said. "We're not going to win every game. But I'll tell you what: We're going to compete, no matter what. ... We will not back down. And if we do, then changes will be made."
That certainly sounds good. And it constitutes a step up from Redskins President Bruce Allen's much-mocked December boast about "winning off the field."
What remains to be seen is how long it might take for McCloughan to do what he was hired to do: turn the team around.
The most obvious, and possibly significant change from 2014 to 2015 is that Robert Griffin III is no longer the starting quarterback as Washington prepares to host Miami. Instead,cheap jerseys online, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has been supplanted by Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round pick in the same draft in which RG3 went No. 2 overall.
"We're all behind Kirk,wholesale jerseys," said Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton, part of McCloughan's major overhaul of the defensive line. "Everybody's talking about our quarterback situation. But the coach made the decision that he felt was best for the season. We're going to back our coach up on that,authentic nfl jerseys, and we're going to back up our quarterback."
In Jay Gruden's first year as an NFL head coach, very little went according to plan. That included a rotation of QBs that saw Griffin, Cousins and McCoy all start and then be sidelined by injury, a benching or both.
As Gruden heads into Year 2, one key question is whether the most important position will again be a problem. Gruden, after all,nfl jerseys, was brought aboard because of his offensive acumen.
He also maintains that — with McCloughan in charge — there is a better 53-man roster at his disposal.
"Obviously, this time of year, everybody has high hopes. We had high hopes last year," Gruden said. "But I think from last year comparing to this year, I think you can see we have more players that are NFL-quality backups, special-teamers, all that stuff. You can see that we're bigger, we're stronger, and I think we're faster. That's a good thing."
Here are some issues facing the Redskins this season:
OFF THE FIELD: Hardly a day goes by in Redskinsland without some sort of crisis. There was the bizarre Twitter episode involving McCloughan's wife. The reversal of Griffin's status for an exhibition game, when he was cleared, then not cleared to return from a concussion by a doctor who has since resigned. There was the signing of Junior Galette after he was cut by the Saints because of off-field issues, and then the pass rusher's season-ending injury. There are still the intertwined issues of the team's nickname and negotiations for a new stadium site. What else will crop up?
O-LINE: McCloughan has made clear he strives to have success in the trenches. The team is counting on an inexperienced right side of the offensive line, with No. 5 overall draft pick Brandon Scherff at guard and second-year player Morgan Moses at tackle,wholesale nfl jerseys, and has no reliable backup to Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. How good will pass protection be?
NEW DEFENSE: A defense that failed to stop anyone was overhauled, with Joe Barry replacing Jim Haslett as coordinator and all sorts of additions, including cornerback Chris Culliver, safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson, and linemen Knighton, Stephen Paea, and Ricky Jean-Francois. How much better will it be?
TIGHT ENDS
Two of the team's top three tight ends,cheap jerseys from china, Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen, are injured and out for the season. The other, Jordan Reed, has yet to show he can stay healthy. Will this position be a big problem?
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Freelancer Ian Quillen in Ashburn,cheap jerseys, Virginia contributed to this report.
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MIAMI (AP) — Greg Jennings has played in 10 postseason games, or 10 more than most of his new teammates with the Miami Dolphins, and he's eager to help lead them to some success in January.
"I've been fortunate to have a great career,nike nfl jerseys," Jennings said Thursday,wholesale nfl jerseys, "and it's going to get better now that I'm down in Miami."
The two-time Pro Bowl receiver signed an $8 million, two-year contract Wednesday with the Dolphins, and he'll fill a void among the wideouts by providing veteran leadership. The team's other top receivers are Jarvis Landry, 22,nfl jerseys, and newcomer Kenny Stills, 23.
Even after signing Jennings, the Dolphins might use the No. 14 pick in next week's draft on a receiver. His reaction if they do?
"My reaction would be, let's go," he said with a laugh. " I'm a part of what we're trying to get done, which is win ballgames. Whoever we draft, I think all of us, including me, will embrace him and try to move forward with the team goal."
Jennings, a nine-year veteran, led the Minnesota Vikings last season with 59 catches for 742 yards and six touchdowns. He has 63 regular-season touchdown receptions,nfl jerseys china, and scored twice to help the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 Super Bowl.
Miami hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008, and hasn't won a postseason game since 2000.
"Greg brings a track record of success and is a proven player who can help strengthen the offense," general manager Dennis Hickey said in a statement.
In the past three years,wholesale jerseys, however, Jennings has totaled only 14 touchdowns while averaging 11.7 yards per catch. How much does the 31-year-old receiver have left in the tank?
"As much as I need,authentic nfl jerseys," he said.
In Miami, he will be reunited with coach Joe Philbin, who was an assistant in Green Bay for six seasons that Jennings played there. Philbin was heavily involved in the recent courtship of Jennings, who considered other teams.
"Joe and I talked frequently,cheap jerseys, whether it be over the phone or via text," Jennings said. "I kept him up to date on the different visits and always was open and honest with him, as he has always been dating back to our time together in Green Bay. I can be upfront and forthright with him. That's not always the case when it comes to making decisions like this."
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