After decades dormant, USFL to relaunch in ’22
The USFL is relaunching in 2022, four decades after the spring football league’s short-lived run that featured such stars as Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Steve Young and Jim Kelly, as well as future President Donald Trump as an owner.
The new USFL announced Thursday that it will play next spring with a minimum of eight teams and will “deliver high-quality, innovative professional football to fans.”
Although the teams, cities, head coaches and schedule won’t be announced until later, the league said it retains the rights to “key original team names.” The USFL also is using the same red, white and blue stars-and-stripes logo it did from 1983 to 1985.
The USFL’s return could result in two pro leagues playing football in the spring. The XFL has been targeting a 2022 resumption of play after owners Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners purchased the league out of bankruptcy in 2020. Planning for the XFL’s 2022 season has been on pause since March, when it entered into negotiations regarding a collaboration with the Canadian Football League.
Fox Sports, which has a minority equity stake in the company that owns the new USFL, will serve as the league’s official broadcast partner.
“I’m extremely passionate about football and the opportunity to work with Fox Sports, and to bring back the USFL in 2022 was an endeavor worth pursuing,” said Brian Woods, co-founder of the new USFL and founder and CEO of The Spring League. “We look forward to providing players a new opportunity to compete in a professional football league and giving fans everywhere the best football viewing product possible during what is typically a period devoid of professional football.”
Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks called the USFL’s relaunch “a landmark day for football fans and Fox Sports.”
The USFL was launched in 1983 but crumbled after three seasons because of out-of-control spending and an ill-conceived push led by Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, to compete directly against the NFL with a fall season.
Launched originally to serve as more of a complement to the NFL than a direct competitor, the USFL helped change professional football in its short life span. The USFL featured rules innovations, helped usher in underclassmen being drafted by the NFL, and pushed the NFL to pay bigger salaries and create real free agency.
In the end, the USFL’s most enduring legacy was the $3 judgment it “won” in an antitrust suit against the NFL, a ruling that finished off the league in 1986 before it carried out the Trump-backed move from spring to fall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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