The USFL is back after a 37-year absence. The United States Football League announced on Thursday it will relaunch next spring.
The original USFL ran for three years from 1983-1985 and was notable for competing with the NFL for star athletes, attracting the likes of Herschel Walker, Reggie White, Steve Young and Jim Kelly. Former president Donald Trump was also an owner of one of the franchises, the New Jersey Generals.
Fox Sports will be the league’s broadcast partner, giving it two pro football franchises. Fox is also a minority investor in the company that owns the USFL. The rebooted league will feature at least eight teams and “retains rights to key original team names.”
When it launches, it will compete with the XFL, which itself is relaunching (for the second time) next spring under new co-owners Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia.
The league had found success in serving as an offseason companion to the NFL, with games played during the spring. As documented in ESPN’s documentary, “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?” Trump led the push for the USFL to move its season to the fall to compete head-to-head with the NFL, which most argue led to its demise. The USFL went bankrupt after winning an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, when the league was famously awarded only $1.
“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.”
“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 (TSL). “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.”