30 for 30 (2009– )
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Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? 

The story of the rise and fall of the United States Football League, focusing on two owners: John Bassett, who wanted the league to compete in the spring; and Donald Trump, who wanted to take on the NFL and play in the fall.


Michael Tollin (as Mike Tollin)


Michael Tollin (as Mike Tollin)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Tollin ... Self - Director
Donald Trump ... Self - Owner, New Jersey Generals
Harry Usher Harry Usher ... Self - USFL Executive
Steve Ehrhart Steve Ehrhart ... Self - USFL Consultant
Marv Albert ... Self - Announcer (archive footage)
Howard Cosell ... Self - ABC Sports (archive footage)
Peter Spivak Peter Spivak ... Self - Acting Chairman, USFL
Chet Simmons Chet Simmons ... Self - USFL Commissioner
Herschel Walker ... Self - Running Back, New Jersey Generals
Dom Camera Dom Camera ... Self - Marketing Director, USFL
Charley Steiner ... Self - Broadcaster, New Jersey Generals
J. Walter Duncan J. Walter Duncan ... Self - Owner, New Jersey Generals
Vister Hayes Vister Hayes ... Self - Player (archive footage)
Lee Majors ... Self - Actor, The Fall Guy (archive footage)
Jim Lampley Jim Lampley ... Self - ABC Sportscaster


In 1983 the upstart United States Football League (USFL) had the audacity to challenge the almighty NFL. The new league did the unthinkable by playing in the spring and plucked three straight Heisman Trophy winners away from the NFL. The 12-team USFL played before crowds that averaged 25,000, and started off with respectable TV ratings. But with success came expansion and new owners. This included a certain high profile and impatient real estate baron whose vision was at odds with the league's founders. Soon, the USFL was reduced to waging a desperate anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. This yielded an ironic verdict that effectively forced the league out of business. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, Academy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning director Mike Tollin, himself once a chronicler of the league, will showcase the remarkable influence of those three years on football history and attempt to answer the question, "Who Killed the USFL?" Written by Anonymous

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User Reviews

Trump, Trump and More Trump
4 November 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

30 for 30: Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (2009)

*** (out of 4)

Fun filled and sometimes heated documentary about who killed the USFL, the springtime football league, which seemed to be doing decent until Donald Trump bought a team and soon, after three seasons, the league was no more. It's interesting to note that director Tollin was actually working for the USFL when they started up so he's certainly got some insight as to what was going on and I think for the most part this documentary is quite open and honest about the events that would bring the league down. It's also worth noting that everyone interviewed blames Trump. What was most fascinating about this documentary, for someone not too familiar with it, is how many legends of the NFL started their careers in this "under" league. Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker and Reggie White are just a few of the people who started in the league and coaches Jim Mora, Lee Corso, Rick Neuheisel and Keith Jackson were also working there. All of these folks are interviewed here and again, they all blame Trump. The old hair piece Trump is also on hand here and it shouldn't shock anyone that he doesn't take a bit of the blame. It's clear he isn't too fond about this story and eventually ends the interview without offering too much up. It's pretty funny to see what a great villain he makes here especially with a former player, still highly upset, talking about how many people lost their job over his greed. There's plenty of footage from the old games as well as original news reports of various games, stories and of course that infamous court case where the league went after the NFL.

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Release Date:

20 October 2009 (USA) See more »

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