With a long offseason without football will the United States Football League give us some repreave?
Spring football has been something of a white whale for the football fan because the spring leagues have either failed or have imploded spectacularly over the past decade. AAFC was the prime example of how a league should not be run, they had no money and refused to pay players and coaches. The AAFC almost seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the spring football dream most fans really want to have, but recently the XFL was actually a major success for football fans.
The XFL was a change of pace from other Spring Leagues, they actually had talent which made an impact on how successful the league was. The XFL also was popular because it was set in popular markets as well as small markets across the country, there were teams in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington along with teams in St.Louis, Seattle, and Houston. The XFL probably would have survived a couple of seasons if the COVID-19 Pandemic didn’t hit.
One thing the XFL really brought was it was trying to be the developmental league, there were plenty of undrafted players and league flameouts who were trying to make rosters in the fall. But it also had players who skipped college or their final year of college to get a paycheck (pre-NIL deals) and it really had promise. The XFL was a success, it was a fun product with a bunch of deals and loyal fans across the country.
But due to the pandemic starting in 2020, the league had to cancel the rest of their season and it was really a bad loss, they had an interest in their sport and it all ended so fast, luckily they will be back next Spring, and will partner with the NFL on rules and will be a farm system for the NFL. But that brings us to the USFL, the league which kicks off in April and could be a great and fun league for everyone.
The original USFL was a league that was started in 1983, it had great players which signed on to the teams. They had Steve Young, Jim Kelley, Doug Williams, Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, and plenty of other future NFL Talent. It was extremely popular in the three years of its existence, it had the backing of ABC, young owners who wanted to own teams, and adventure capitalists across the country. Most famously it ended after Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, tried to move games to the fall in a merger attempt with the NFL. The league folded because they couldn’t compete with the NFL by playing in the fall and Trump’s lawsuit against the NFL.
This new USFL will be interesting because they will be playing in one location for all of their games, Birmingham, Alabama, and it will have its playoffs in Canton, Ohio. It is a great strategy to have to only use one location so there wouldn’t be a bunch of travel expenses and upkeep in plenty of other stadium expenses around the country. The USFL already has fans because of its nostalgic ties to the original and that it will be a cheap form of football, tickets max out at $45, and its general admission for all games.
This version of the USFL will also be backed by NBC and Fox for all of its games, so there will be money involved. I am sort of excited about the USFL because of its novelty, like the XFL the USFL will provide a gap for the football fan, it will run until June and then the NFL’s training camps start in July. It’s more of a distraction and an extra sport to watch over the summer, and hopefully, it has some success so it can survive and hopefully merge with the XFL next year.