Houston Texans Signing Michigan Panthers QB EJ Perry

Inside EJ Perry’s Historic USFL Start At Ford Field

Like Phil Collins, against all odds, EJ Perry did the unthinkable and led the Michigan Panthers to a USFL playoff spot in his first career professional start and after just two and a half weeks as a Michigan Panther.

History In The Making

Unbeknownst to many, EJ Perry was the first Ivy League quarterback to play in both the first and second iterations of the USFL and the first Ivy League player to complete a pass since kicker Tim Mazzetti, a Penn graduate, completed a 15-yard pass on a fake field goal for the Boston Breakers in 1983. Perry’s 121 passing yards “shattered” Mazzetti’s passing yards record for Ivy League graduates in the USFL.

Perry also did something that neither Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick nor Dartmouth grad Jay Fiedler did in their careers: throw a regular season pass at Ford Field. It is hard to believe that Fitzpatrick’s vagabond NFL career never made a regular season stop at Ford Field and Fiedler’s one start at Detroit occurred at the Pontiac Silverdome.

One can make an honest argument that Perry’s start against the Stars was the best performance by a former Ivy League quarterback in the Motor City since the Reagan Administration. Below is every performance by an Ivy League quarterback in Detroit in the USFL and NFL since 1970 and Perry’s performance stacks up against it:

Marty Domres, Baltimore Colts @ Detroit Lions, 10-21-1973: 9-13 177 yards, 2 TD, 8 carries, 22 yards, 1 TD
Jeff Kemp, Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions, 10-18-1987, 20-27 344 yards, 4 TDs, 3 carries 12 yards
Jay Fiedler, Miami Dolphins @ Detroit Lions, 13-18 112 yards, 8 carries 42 yards, 25-yard run.

Of course, Kemp’s performance is the greatest by a former Ivy League quarterback in Detroit since 1973. But Perry’s performance is right behind Fiedler’s as the second-best quarterback performance by a former Ivy Leaguer in Detroit over the last 48 years. This week, Perry will become the first Ivy League quarterback to start a playoff game in the NFL, XFL, or USFL since Jay Fiedler started for the Dolphins in 2001.

Final Thoughts

EJ Perry’s performance, while not groundbreaking, was nearly unprecedented for the Ivy League. This USFL debut builds on another historic performance in the East-West Shrine Bowl where Perry not only was the first Ivy League quarterback to win MVPd honors since 1994, but Brown’s first quarterback to play in the game since 1930!

With an exciting style of play and the unique origin of Brown University, Perry has a chance to become a cult hero in the USFL and follow in the footsteps of Bobby Hebert in bringing a USFL title back to Motown.

What are your thoughts on EJ Perry and the Michigan Panthers? Can he lead them to a USFL Championship? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!