The reaction was, like a dollar bill, two-sided.
On the one hand, Frank Rothman, the National Football League's co-counsel, said, "Justice is great. It was a complete NFL victory."
And on the other hand, Rudi Schiffer, vice president of marketing for the Memphis Showboats of the U.S. Football League, said, "We're lost. We're dead."
Clearly, not everything had crystallized tonight after the USFL was awarded only $1 in damages by a six-member jury that found the NFL liable for one antitrust violation.
The USFL said that, because of jurors' statements made after the verdict was rendered, it would file post-verdict briefs with Judge Peter K. Leisure, questioning the jury's reasoning. One juror, Miriam Sanchez, said she felt the USFL was entitled to between $200 million and $300 million in damages but consented to the $1 award because she thought the judge would have reduced a large award.
Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, said in a released statement that the USFL had won a "great moral victory." He added: "Now with the confusion and what seems to be a hung jury on damages , we expect to win a total victory."
USFL Commissioner Harry Usher said league owners will meet Aug. 6 to determine the league's future. He said today it was too early to say what would happen to such league stars as quarterback Jim Kelly and running backs Herschel Walker and Kelvin Bryant.
Buffalo owns Kelly's NFL rights; Dallas owns Walker's rights and the Redskins own the rights to Bryant, who was voted the most valuable player of last year's USFL title game, won by his team, the Baltimore Stars.
Asked if the Redskins might have Bryant in their lineup this season, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke merely said: "We will let nature run its course."
Coach Joe Gibbs, speaking from the Redskins training camp in Carlisle, Pa., said, "We just have to wait until all the legal proceedings are worked out. Obviously, we know that we have him if the USFL folds . That would be exciting. But it's something we really don't think about or plan on."
The USFL schedule calls for the league's fourth season to begin Sept. 13.
Usher said tonight that he had spoken with some of the owners of the USFL's eight clubs and there was mostly "disappointment and a sense of confusion as to the fact that a jury could support our claim that the NFL is a monopoly and acted wrongfully against the USFL and injured us and then proceed to give us $1. I'm confused."
William Tatham Jr., general manager of the Arizona Outlaws of the USFL, said, "We're ready to play football. The verdict vindicates what we have been saying for 3 1/2 years. The NFL has used a monopoly to put us out of business, and a jury found that. If they're guilty of that then they owe us some damages. This thing is far from over."
Asked what the chances are that the USFL will never again play, Usher said: "I can't evaluate that. All signals are go now. I have no signals to the contrary. I'm sure that will be discussed" among owners in the Aug. 6 meeting in New York.
Giants owner Wellington Mara, who spent many days during the trial as a courtroom observer, said, "I'm glad there was a lot of intelligence on the jury. The USFL went to great lengths to keep anyone off the jury who had any knowledge of football. They may have outsmarted themselves."