Nearly 40 Years After Its First Game, USFL Announces Return

By Reuters
June 3, 2021 Updated: June 3, 2021

The United States Football League (USFL) will be rebooted in 2022, nearly 40 years after its first go-round.

The new league will feature at least eight teams and has retained the team names of the original USFL, which was in operation from 1983-85. Games will be played in the spring, and team locations will be announced at a later date.

“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,” said Brian Woods, co-founder of the new USFL and founder and CEO of The Spring League.

The new USFL will air on FOX Sports, which will be a minority stakeholder in the company that owns the league. FOX completed the purchase of the defunct league’s team names, logos and rights, Sports Business Journal reported on Thursday.

“The relaunch of the USFL is a landmark day for football fans and FOX Sports,” said Eric Shanks, CEO and executive producer of FOX Sports. “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 league lured top stars with big-money paydays. Steve Young signed a deal with the Los Angeles Express for a $40 million annuity to be paid over several decades, and Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie signed on. Reggie White and Jim Kelly, who like Young later would be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also played in the league.

Former President Donald Trump owned the New Jersey Generals before the league folded in 1986.

The USFL is the latest league to make a run in the spring season.

The Alliance of American Football collapsed two years ago in the midst of its first season. In 2020, the XFL started to play, was halted by the coronavirus pandemic and wound up in bankruptcy. Actor Dwayne Johnson, who led a group of partners in buying the XFL, said late last year he intends to bring the league back in 2022.