After ceasing in 1986, the United States Football League will be returning in the spring of next year.
Another professional football league?
You read that right — the United States Football League (USFL) in a Thursday announcement stated it will be returning with a spring season in 2022. This comes after the original USFL ceased in 1986 following an attempt to move games to the fall season as a National Football League competitor.
FOX Sports will be the broadcast partner of the new version of the USFL, which will be introducing at least eight teams (there were 14 teams in the original league’s final season). The league will additionally contain the rights to some of the old team names such as the New Jersey Generals, Houston Gamblers, and Oakland Invaders, per Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
“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,” co-founder of the new USFL, Brian Woods, said in a statement. “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.”
Woods is additionally the founder/CEO of The Spring League, a developmental football league that underwent its inaugural season in 2017 and will remain in existence.
“The relaunch of the USFL is a landmark day for football fans and FOX Sports,” FOX Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks said. “Football is in our DNA and the return of this innovative and iconic league is a fantastic addition to our robust slate of football programming.”
The original USFL fielded a number of significant names, such as Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, Steve Young, and Reggie White.
A notable owner within the duration of the original league’s existence was businessman, media personality, and eventual 45th U.S. President Donald Trump, who purchased the New Jersey Generals in September 1983. Trump was a large component of the strategic plan to push games to the fall and also merge with the NFL by filing an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
The jury ruled the NFL was in violation of anti-monopoly laws, but following a judgment of $1 awarded to the USFL, the former spring league eventually concluded.
This won’t be the first non-NFL professional football league to have commenced a season in recent years.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) played part of its inaugural 2019 season before ceasing operations in April of that year. The XFL additionally returned in 2020 after a lone 2001 season but prematurely concluded the new season that March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unclear if the XFL will return in 2022, although previous reports stated that was the plan.