UPDATE: The new USFL announced the eight inaugural teams that will play when the league gets started in 2022. The league will include the Michigan Panthers, Birmingham Stallions, New Jersey Generals, Houston Gamblers, Philadelphia Stars, New Orleans Breakers, Pittsburgh Maulers, and Tampa Bay Bandits.
The graveyard of spring professional football leagues to air after NFL season is large and sometimes features multiple versions of the same league. The XFL is the most notable, with the third iteration coming in 2023. But now, a USFL-branded league is coming back.
FOX Sports announced on Wednesday that it is launching a new version of the United States Football League. The network owns the league and will launch it in mid-April of 2022. The league will include eight teams split into two divisions. Each team will play a ten-game schedule, with teams in the same division playing each other twice and teams in the other division once.
The regular season will run through mid-June. It will be followed by a four-team playoff with a semifinal round and then a championship game a week later.
The league will include some names of note trying to execute on the recurring failed premise of spring professional football. Former NFL agent and co-founder of various failed NFL alternatives Brian Woods has co-founded this league and will serve as President of Football Operations. Former Dallas Cowboys fullback and NFL TV analyst Daryl Johnston will serve as Executive Vice President of Football Operations. FOX Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira will serve as Head of Officiating. FOX Sports’ Edward Hartman will serve as Executive Vice President of Business Operations.
Spring leagues have had their moments, and the last version of the XFL might have actually found modest success if not for the pandemic. Television executives have had a thirst for a football league that can broadcast sometime after the Super Bowl, and I doubt we see them stop trying anytime soon — regardless of how often it fails.
Moving this league to an April start instead of February right after the Super Bowl might be a good idea. It gives people some time to forget about football and realize they miss it. Of course, it is also starting right before the NFL Draft, so we’ll see if that helps or hurts it.
Odds are good the league fails sooner than later and players are left hunting for paychecks from a bankrupt league, but we wish them the best of luck.