Team colors were scarlet, white, royal blue and sunflower gold. The primary logo was a gold five-star general wreath. Team helmets were solid scarlet with the logo decal on each side and a white face-mask. Home uniforms featured red jerseys with white numbers trimmed in royal blue, with numbers on the sleeves and no striping; pants were white with a single wide red stripe trimmed in blue down the sides from hip to knee. Road jerseys were white with red numbers trimmed in blue.
The franchise was originally owned by J. Walter Duncan, with Chuck Fairbanks running the team as head coach and general manager for the 1983 season. The team made a big splash by signing Hesiman Trophy-winning underclassman Herschel Walker, a running back from the University of Georgia. Despite the signing of Walker, who rushed for 1,812 yards and 17 touchdowns, the Generals finished their inaugural season with a 6-12 record.
The team was purchased by New York real-estate magnate Donald Trump prior to the 1984 season. Trump tried to lure legendary coach Don Shula from the Miami Dolphins, but failing that hired former New York Jets head coach Walt Michaels. The Generals responded to their poor 1983 showing with an influx of veteran NFL talent for 1984, including QB Brian Sipe, DB Gary Barbaro, and LBs Jim LeClair and Bob Leopold. Walker and FB Maurice Carthon both rushed for over 1,000 yards (Walker 1,339; Carthon 1,042) as the Generals went 14-4, defeating the eventual champion Philadelphia Stars twice for that franchise's only two losses of the season. The Stars defeated the Generals 28-7 in a first-round playoff game.
The 1985 season saw the heralded signing of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie of Boston College. Despite Flutie's inexperience, the Generals traded Sipe to the Jacksonville Bulls to ensure Flutie would start. Flutie struggled at times but played well overall until he suffered a broken collarbone against the Memphis Showboats in the season's 15th game and did not play again. The 1985 Generals finished 11-7 behind Walker's pro football-record 2,411 rushing yards but lost again to the Stars (transplanted to Baltimore) in the first round of the playoffs, 20-17.
The USFL planned to play its 1986 schedule in the fall, directly opposite the NFL, thanks mostly to Trump's strong advocacy of direct competition with the older, established league. The Generals merged with the Houston Gamblers during the extended offseason, adding such stars as QB Jim Kelly, WR Ricky Sanders and head coach Jack Pardee, but the USFL's "Dream Team" never took the field. The 1986 season was cancelled after the USFL won a minimal verdict in an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL; the league folded soon afterward.
Numerous Generals players, including Flutie, Walker and center Kent Hull went on to productive NFL careers. Flutie also starred in the CFL; Hull played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills.