USFL plans to relaunch in 2022, four decades after initial birth

FILE - Quarterback Steve Young, of the USFL’s Los Angeles Express, pitches the ball out to Mel Gray during a game against the New Jersey Generals in Los Angeles, Calif., April 1, 1984. The USFL, which lasted three years in the 1980s, is relaunching in 2022. Doug Pizac, Associated Press (Douglas Pizac, Associated Press)



NEW YORK (AP) — The USFL is relaunching in 2022, four decades after the spring football league's short-lived run that featured such stars as Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and future president Donald Trump.

The new USFL announced Thursday it will play next spring with a minimum of eight teams "and deliver high-quality, innovative professional football to fans."

Although those teams, along with the cities, head coaches and schedules won't be announced until later, the league said it retains the rights to "key original team names."

The USFL also is using the same red, white and blue stars-and-stripes logo it did from 1983-85.

Fox Sports, which has a minority equity stake in the company that owns the new USFL, will serve as the league's official broadcast partner.

"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.

"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."

Fox CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks called the USFL's relaunch "a landmark day for football fans and 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," Shanks said.

The USFL was launched in 1983, but crumbled after three seasons because of out-of-control spending and an ill-conceived push led by Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, to compete directly against the NFL with a fall season.

Launched originally to serve as more of a complement to the NFL than a direct competitor, the USFL helped change professional football in its short lifespan.

The USFL featured rules innovations, helped usher in underclassmen being drafted by the NFL and pushed the league to pay bigger salaries and create real free agency.

In the end, the USFL's most enduring legacy was the $3 judgment it "won" in an antitrust suit against the NFL, a ruling that finished off the league in 1986 before it carried out a Trump-backed move from spring to fall.


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Arnie Stapleton

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