Road to the 2023 USFL Kickoff: Darius Victor talks leadership role, life changes, and Generals football


Last season, Darius Victor, 29, opened up about the hell he and his family walked through to get to where they are today–that included fleeing an Ivory Coast refugee camp, the tragic death of his older brother Kevin, and watching his family apartment burn down. Despite all of the hardship, Victor has a determined zest for life and a profound level of gratitude that shined through his success on the field last season.

The New Jersey Generals running back was named Offensive Player of the Year and an All-USFL RB in 2022, helping his team get to the playoffs where they ultimately lost 19-14 to the Philadelphia Stars. Victor reflects on his incredible first season, shares what the Generals will do differently in 2023, and opens up about his personal goals.

The 2023 USFL Season kicks off this Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 with four exciting match ups, including a Sunday afternoon showdown you don’t want to miss between the Michigan Panthers and Houston Gamblers at 12:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock.

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

NBC Sports: Take me back to where we left off last season – The Generals vs Stars in the playoffs. Players were mic’d up during that game and there was a lot of tension. Some words exchanged. What was the atmosphere of that game like and what do you remember most?

Darius Victor: Things were very competitive, it was win or go home. It’s what you expect from a playoff game so everyone was amped up. We just picked a bad day to have a bad day and the Stars got the win.

You guys lost 19-14. Such a close game. A heartbreaking loss after going 9-1 during the regular season. What was the conversation in the locker room like after that game?

Victor: It was more of we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do, not so much the other team because we knew that we could beat them. We beat them twice before but it was more so we didn’t come ready to play and it was all on us.

Did you watch the championship game? 

Victor: I did actually, it was great football. I’m a football fan. I was a little salty but you know I love football. It was a great, great game down to the wire so shout out to the other teams Birmingham and Philly for putting on a great championship game. I thought Philly was out of it when Case Cookus got hurt. The other quarterback came in and it was just next man up. I was impressed by who they had.

After the season you posted on Instagram “Even though it’s over, I’m just getting started.” What did you mean by that?

Victor: Just with the league itself. I know the USFL has a long line of of success and I hope to be a part of it. Going into season two I’m so excited to still be a part of something great and I’m looking forward to building with the the league.

You were definitely a huge part of the league’s success last season. You were named Offensive Player of the Year and an All-USFL RB for the league last season. Where were you when you found out and what do these honors mean to you?

Victor: I was actually at practice. We always have a little bring-it-in session towards the end of practice and then I found out. I was pretty surprised. I didn’t know. No one gave me a heads up. I’m grateful for the recognition. They don’t like to give running backs those types of awards. It’s rare when you get something like that so I definitely appreciate my teammates and the coaches and whoever else voted for me.

Reflecting on the incredible season you had – if you were to pick one word to describe it all what would it be and why?

Victor: Disappointing, because we didn’t win a championship. That’s why we play the game– to win. We won a lot of games but we didn’t win a championship so disappointing would be the word to sum up the season. If I could go back in time I would beat Philly for third time [in the 2022 season] and get a chance to play Birmingham in the championship. That’s what I would do. Everything else stays the same way. If we held off Philly for about two more minutes then we would have been in the championship.

What did you learn about yourself? How have you grown over the last year on and off the field?

Victor: I pretty much knew that I was leader, but just being a leader for the guys and my teammates, and especially for the younger guys… I’m kind of old now. I always joke around and tell people I’ve got a bald head. Just being a leader and leading by example is what I gained from this past year.

What are some of those ways that you lead by example?

Victor: Making sure I’m always on time, making sure my teammates are taken care if someone needs a ride or whatever the case might be. Making sure I’m on tape, hustling. I’m not telling anyone else to run if I’m not running–just leading by example. I wanted them to see if Vito’s doing it, I’ve got to do it too so they have no excuses.

The Generals had seven players make the All-USFL team, which is more than any other team in the league last season. You guys cleaned house with end of the season awards, not to mention you finished the regular season 9-1. The New Jersey Generals have already set a standard of excellence within the league. What can fans expect from your team this year?

Victor: We expect to improve and be better than the last play. We expect to compete every game and compete every play and may the best team win. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re some type of franchise dynasty or anything like that but we just want to come out and compete every game and do what the coaches tells us to do.

Describe the New Jersey Generals in one word for me.

Victor: Interesting. We have a lot of characters on our team. We have some comedians, we have some actors, we have some some singers, we just have a lot of different characters. I wish you could be a fly on the wall, you would laugh all day. It’s always a good time even at practice or just in the locker room.

How will the Generals be different going into year two?

Victor: The Generals will be different going into year two by hopefully winning the championship instead of losing in the playoffs – in Jesus’ name.

USFL Week Nine - New Jersey Generals v Michigan PanthersUSFL Week Ten - Philadelphia Stars v New Jersey GeneralsUSFL Week Five - New Orleans Breakers v New Jersey GeneralsUSFL Week Seven - New Jersey Generals v Tampa Bay Bandits

A few months ago Coach Riley talked about focusing on “continued growth” as a team. Has that been something that’s been emphasized in your meetings and what exactly has that looked like for you guys so far?

Victor: Definitely, just because we have so many people back. We’re not really learning new, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We pretty much all know the playbooks. There are a couple new guys that have to learn a few things but for the most part it’s stacking days and getting better every day. We should already know what we’re doing. We’re just refining that, tuning up our skills, and tightening up the playbook and focusing on execution so that plays onto what Coach Riley said–the building blocks, things like that.

KaVontae Turpin signed with the Cowboys, he was the league MVP and obviously a significant part of your already talented offense last year, how will you guys adjust to his absence this season?

Victor: You can’t ever replace a guy like Terp. Terp is all-pro, best in the world baby! We do have a couple guys that play similar to Turp. I mean, you can never replace a guy like Turp but we have guys to step up. It’s that “next-man-up” attitude and we all love and support Turp. He’s still in that group chat, it’s all love.

I love that he’s still in the group chat. What is it like having Mike Riley as your head coach?

Victor: Oh, he’s the greatest head coach ever. He’s just a great guy. I tell people he’s like a father you don’t want to disappoint. He doesn’t give you any rules but you never stay out past the street lights coming on. It’s just like you want to do whatever you can to keep him happy. He’s not like an angry dad but you don’t want to do anything to disappoint him in that way. He’s a great man, a great coach so I’m blessed to have him as a head coach.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about him?

Victor: He’s pretty funny. He’s like, dad jokes funny. When we’re watching film in the office and in meetings, he’s hilarious. He’ll say a joke every now and then and I’m like, that was actually funny. You’re not supposed to be funny, what are you doing being funny? But yeah, he’s actually funny.

What game are you most excited for this season?

Victor: Oh, the first one! Of course, it’s another opportunity to play the game I love so I’m excited for week one, April 15 in Birmingham. I’m excited for that part.

Are you guys still doing the “hip hip hooray” chant in the locker room this year or are you picking something else?

Victor: I hope I hear a lot of hip-hip hoorays hop because that means we won, so yes!

Obviously, everyone’s goal is to win the championship. What is your personal goal or vision for the season?

Victor: My personal goal is just to make the best out of every play that I get. Whether it’s the plays, made for three yards, you know, every play is not a touchdown, so just maximizing every play I get. That’s my personal goal and I feel like if you stack each play, good things happen.

How do you feel about Canton, Ohio being the home for the New Jersey Generals this season?

Victor: It looks amazing. It’s a football town. I walked into the facility and I saw a six-year-old girl and boy watching NFL Network. I’m like, aren’t you supposed to be watching cartoons? The fact that they were glued to the TV, watching the NFL Network. It was like okay, this is like a football town. Just being able to represent the city and being in this historic town is a great privilege.

Switching gears – What did this off-season look like for you in terms of training?

Victor: I live in Miami and it was pretty good. I enjoyed the weather so I always appreciate that. I wake up every morning [in Ohio] and check the weather. I don’t do that in Miami. I just wake up and live my life. But my offseason was pretty good. I was on a keto diet so that wasn’t really fun but I had to get my sexy back. The offseason was pretty good but I’m glad to be back to playing football because it’s the best time ever when you’re playing football.

Was the Keto diet something new that you decided to incorporate?

Victor: I usually always do it like a month or two before I have to like report to camp and stuff but I hate it because I love food. I’m very, very, very, very, very in love with food so it’s hard sometimes, especially when you have to go keto. Things don’t taste as good.

Did you hear from any NFL teams in the off season?

Victor: I had a few calls–my agent did–and I had a workout with the Saints. I was with them before. I didn’t get end up getting signed so that’s unfortunate, but you know, things happen, control what you can control.

What did you learn from that experience?

Victor: Pretty much that I’m an “old running-back” even though I feel young. My legs look pretty young, but on paper I’m old. It’s unfortunate, but it’s name of the game. I’m just fortunate to continue to play the game I love.

Were you still working a 9 to 5 job in the offseason? What were you doing?

Victor: Absolutely! I always do whenever I’m not playing football. I’m working with the Department of State – I do security for them.

Wow! That is a grind- having a full time job and training for a full season – what is that like?

Victor: I always tell people, it’s like having two full time jobs but only getting paid for one [during the off season]. I always joke around, I’m not going to a Gold’s Gym or LA Fitness and working out, I actually train so it’s exhausting. But it’s what I want to do. It’s what I am passionate about. It’s just my life. I don’t look at it as work, they are long days, but I’m used to it now.

What does a full day look like for you?

Victor: I wake up about 5:20 ish, maybe five o’clock, it depends. I have to be at work at 6:15. I used to get off at like 3:30, sometimes I do a little over time. Then I work out from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Sometimes I might go 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM and then go from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM depending on if I go to my running back training. Then I go home, take a shower, eat and go to bed and do it all over again.

I know you mentioned you work out with a trainer but do you workout with any friends or other football players?

Victor: Oh, one of my good friends, Blake Countess, that I’ve been working out with for years now is actually on my team now. So it’s funny. We looked at each other today like, dang we’re actually on teams now, we’ve been working out [together] for years. It’s been exciting to really train with him for all these years and now he’s my teammate, so it’s pretty cool!

Switching gears – How is your family doing and did they get a chance to see you play in person last season? Do they plan to come out to Ohio this season?

Victor: Oh, yes, they did they went to the playoff game! I think it was the only game they went to but now I’m closer so they can drive from Maryland. They’ll be here for a lot more games so I’m looking forward to having them in the stands more often.

You’ve been on this journey to professional football for a long time, putting in so much work and effort. You’ve been through a lot. Your family has been through a lot. How did they react to your success last season? What does it mean to them?

Victor: Oh, they’re very proud. I always joke around and tell people I’m the Facebook child. I’m always on Facebook – “Darius did this.” I see it, I like it and I act like it doesn’t mean anything to me but it makes me happy making them proud. It’s good to be doing something that they’re proud of.

You are one of the most positive and supportive people I’ve ever met – also so funny! Where does your joy come from? 

Victor: From just being able to be alive man. I’ve been through so much and I know some people that aren’t alive and don’t have that opportunity to be a blessing every day. You get to live–that’s a blessing! I try to live it to the fullest and and enjoy every moment of it so I guess that’s how that “Vito light” shines out. People embrace it and people like it. I’m just myself all the time and I guess people respect that.

You celebrate the people in your life so well — every single milestone no matter how big or small. How are you able to clap so hard for other people around you and what is it about your relationships that is so important to you?

Victor: I don’t know, there’ something about me that makes me feel better when someone else does it .When I [achieve something], I expect myself  to do it. When I see other people do it I’m excited [for them]. I don’t usually get excited about myself because I’m hard on myself and I expect myself to do great things. So in the back of my head, I’m like that’s what I expect from me. When I see other people do it, it literally just makes me feel good. I just love to support people and I love to treat others how I want to be treated. It’s just all about that love and sharing positivity.

How has life changed for you since playing in the USFL?

Victor: People notice me sometimes. I was in a Super Bowl commercial. I can’t wait till I get older and have kids so I can lie about my past accomplishments. I’ll be like “I had 10 touchdowns one game” and show them that commercial. I’m gonna milk it. I remember watching the commercial during the Super Bowl and then all of a sudden my phone was ringing. People were saying “I saw you!” It’s just little moments like that, that are pretty cool.

What are you passionate about outside of football?

Victor: I love Candy Crush. I love solving riddles. I love movies. I love food.

Alright, it’s time for rapid fire. You ready for this?

Victor: Born ready.

Do thick thighs still save lives?

Victor: Absolutely! Every day of the week and on Sundays.

Finish this sentence I’m not ready for Game Day without…

Victor: Without Vaseline because it’s cold in Ohio and I don’t wear so sleeves so I’ve got to have Vaseline.

Last time we talked you were on level 4,650 in Candy Crush. What level are you on now?

Victor: I am on level 5,298. I’m almost on 5,300. Two more levels and I’ll be there.

What TV show are you currently binging?

Victor: I just finished “The Night Agent” on Netflix. I’m watching “Snowfall” but I fell asleep mid episode. I’m a grandpa, I can’t hang anymore so I fell asleep at like 10 PM.

You’re singing karaoke for your life – what song are you picking?

Victor: “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai, that’s a great song.

Would you rather be trapped in a romantic comedy with your teammates or trapped in a horror movie with your teammates?

Victor: A romantic comedy.

Who from the New Jersey Generals would be the last one to survive a horror movie?

Victor: Me, of course.

Who from the New Jersey Generals is most likely to become a meme?

Victor: Trey Williams, easy. Trey is very strange. He’s different. We love him but he’s just Trey. If you knew him, you would understand.

Who from the New Jersey Generals is most likely to end up on World Star Hip-Hop?

Victor: Hercules Mata’afa. He’s very aggressive… He’s like a man’s man. Like a lumberjack. I just feel like Hercules would be on World Star flipping a car over or something crazy.

Anything else you want the fans to know about the upcoming season?

Victor: Everyone should come to the games and watch because football is amazing and we’re nothing without the fans. We do it for the fans and for the love of the game!

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2023 USFL Week 8 Schedule: How to watch Gamblers vs Maulers, Stars vs Stallions start times, live stream info


Week 8 of the 2023 USFL season  features four games you don’t want to miss. First, on Saturday, June 3 it’s the Houston Gamblers (4-3) vs Pittsburgh Maulers (2-5) at 12:00 PM ET on USA Network and Peacock. Then at 3:00 PM, the Philadelphia Stars (4-3) will go head-to-head with the Birmingham Stallions (5-2) on NBC and Peacock.

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

On Sunday, June 4, the USFL excitement starts at 1:00 PM with a Memphis Showboats (4-3) vs New Jersey Generals match up. Then, at 4:00 PM the Michigan Panthers (3-4) face the the New Orleans Breakers (4-3) to cap off the night. See below for additional information on how to watch/live stream each game this weekend.

RELATED: 2023 USFL Season Schedule – Dates, times, locations, new teams, playoff format, scores and more

Saturday, June 3:

Houston Gamblers at Pittsburgh Maulers – 12 p.m. (USA and Peacock)

Philadelphia Stars at Birmingham Stallions – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, June 4:

Memphis Showboats at New Jersey Generals – 1 p.m. (FOX)

Michigan Panthers at New Orleans Breakers – 4 p.m. (FOX)

Where are the new locations for the 2023 USFL Season?

The 2023 USFL season will feature four host cities: Detroit, Memphis, Canton, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.

  • The New Jersey Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers will be hosted in Canton, Ohio at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
  • The Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers will be hosted in Birmingham at Protective Stadium.
  • The Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan at Ford Field.
  • The Memphis Showboats and Houston Gamblers will be hosted in Memphis, Tennessee at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

RELATED: 2023 USFL Season –  Who are this year’s USFL head coaches?

How can I watch USFL games on Peacock?

Sign up here to watch all of our LIVE sports, sports shows, documentaries, classic matches, and more. You’ll also get tons of new & hit movies and TV shows, including Peacock Originals and current hits from NBC and Bravo. There’s always something new to discover.

What devices does Peacock support?

You can enjoy Peacock on a variety of devices. View the full list of supported devices here.

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USFL Week 8 Playoff Clinching Scenarios

2023 USFL Season Schedule: Dates, times, locations, new teams, playoff format, scores, and more


The 2023 USFL Season kicks off on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 with four thrilling games. First, the Philadelphia Stars will take on the Memphis Showboats at 4:30 PM ET followed by a New Jersey Generals vs Birmingham Stallions match up at 7:30 PM ET. On Sunday, the Michigan Panthers will go head-to-head with the Houston Gamblers at noon, followed by a Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Orleans Breakers match up at 6:30 PM.

RELATED: 2023 USFL Draft order – Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 10

Season 2 of the USFL features four host cities–Detroit, Memphis, Canton, and Birmingham. This is a significant change from last year when all 10-regular season games were contested in Birmingham, Alabama and playoff games took place in Canton, Ohio. Additionally, the 2023 season will also feature a new team. The Tampa Bay Bandits will now be called the Memphis Showboats. Memphis was one of the original teams featured in the first edition of the USFL.

See below for the full 2023 USFL Season Schedule as well as answers to any questions you may have before the upcoming season. Be sure to check back for the latest updates to the schedule.

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

How many teams are in the USFL?

There are a total of 8 teams in the USFL that make up two divisions:

North Division:

  • Michigan Panthers
  • New Jersey Generals
  • Philadelphia Stars
  • Pittsburgh Maulers

South Division:

  • Birmingham Stallions
  • Houston Gamblers
  • New Orleans Breakers
  • Memphis Showboats

Where will games be contested during the 2023 USFL Season?

The 2023 USFL season will feature four host cities: Detroit, Memphis, Canton, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama.

  • The New Jersey Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers will be hosted in Canton, Ohio at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
  • The Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers will be hosted in Birmingham at Protective Stadium.
  • The Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan at Ford Field.
  • The Memphis Showboats and Houston Gamblers will be hosted in Memphis, Tennessee at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

RELATED: Just Keep Going – Stallions RB CJ Marable makes a policy of perseverance

How many weeks are in the USFL’s regular season?

There are 10 weeks in the regular season. Each team will go head-to-head with division rivals twice and face off against teams of the opposite division once.

How will 2023 USFL playoffs work?

After the 10 week regular season comes to a close, the top two teams from each division will go head-to-head in two playoff games in late June, with the winners advancing to the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

2023 USFL Season Schedule:

*All times are listed as ET


Saturday, April 15
Philadelphia Stars 27, Memphis Showboats 23
Birmingham Stallions 27, New Jersey Generals 10

Sunday, April 16
Michigan Panthers 29, Houston Gamblers 13 
New Orleans Breakers 22, Pittsburgh Maulers 15


Saturday, April 22
New Orleans Breakers 38, Houston Gamblers 31 
Birmingham Stallions 42, Memphis Showboats 2

Sunday, April 23
New Jersey Generals 20, Pittsburgh Maulers 3 
Michigan Panthers 24, Philadelphia Stars 10


Saturday, April 29
New Orleans Breakers 45, Birmingham Stallions 31
Houston Gamblers 30, Memphis Showboats 26 

Sunday, April 30
Pittsburgh Maulers 21, Philadelphia Stars 13
New Jersey Generals 28, Michigan Panthers 13 


Saturday, May 6

Houston Gamblers 41, Philadelphia Stars 16
Memphis Showboats 29,  Michigan Panthers 10

Saturday, May 7

New Orleans Breakers 20, New Jersey Generals 17
Birmingham Stallions 24, Pittsburgh Maulers 20


Saturday, May 13
Pittsburgh Maulers 23,  Michigan Panthers 7
Houston Gamblers 27, Birmingham Stallions 20

Sunday, May 14
Philadelphia Stars 24, New Jersey Generals 21 
Memphis Showboats 17,  New Orleans Breakers 10


Saturday, May 20
Memphis Showboats 22, Pittsburgh Maulers 0
Birmingham Stallions 27, Michigan Panthers 13

Sunday, May 21
Philadelphia Stars 16, New Orleans Breakers 10
Houston Gamblers 16, New Jersey Generals 10


Saturday, May 27
Birmingham Stallions 24, New Orleans 20
Philadelphia Stars 37, Pittsburgh Maulers 31

Sunday, May 28
Memphis Showboats 23, Houston Gamblers 20
Michigan Panthers 25, New Jersey Generals 22


Saturday, June 3
Houston at Pittsburgh – 12 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Philadelphia at Birmingham – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, June 4
Memphis at New Jersey – 1 p.m. (FOX)
Michigan at New Orleans – 4 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, June 10
Michigan at Pittsburgh – 12 p.m. (FOX)
New Orleans at Memphis – 3 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)

Sunday, June 11
Birmingham at Houston – 2 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)
Philadelphia at New Jersey – 7 p.m. (FOX)


Saturday, June 17
Pittsburgh at New Jersey – 1 p.m. (USA and Peacock)
Birmingham at Memphis – 4 p.m. (FOX)

Sunday, June 18
New Orleans at Houston – 4 p.m. (FS1)
Philadelphia at Michigan – 7 p.m. (FOX)

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