No matter how many times the universe tries to kill the concept of spring football, it just won't go away.
The United States Football League will launch a comeback in 2022, it was announced Thursday.
Details are scarce as of now, with no team names, coaching hires or scheduling dates announced. The only thing we know is Spring League Founder & CEO Brian Woods is a co-founder of the new USFL and that Fox also has a co-ownership stake in the league.
“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,” Woods said. “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 currently broadcasts some Spring League games.
“The relaunch of the USFL is a landmark day for football fans and FOX Sports,” said Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks. “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.”
Given the nature of Woods's ownership, it leads one to naturally wonder if the Spring League will simply be re-branded as the USFL, if the USFL will revive its old team names -- who can forget the New Jersey Generals, the Houston Gamblers, the Tampa Bay Bandits, et al -- or if it will be some combination of the two.
The USFL remains the most successful spring football league in this country's history, as well as the most successful minor league since the AFL. The USFL successfully completed three seasons in the spring and summer of 1983, '84 and '85 before a misguided attempt to move to the fall and compete directly with the NFL killed the USFL in 1986.
The USFL's success, such that it was, came from acquiring NFL-level talent. Eight future Pro Football Hall of Famers spent time in the USFL, including Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Reggie White. The league also had Herschel Walker, one of the biggest names in football at the time, as well as 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie.
Will the USFL lure a reigning Heisman winner away from the NFL? Absolutely not.
But will the USFL survive to the spring of 2023? No one has any idea, but it'll be fun to see them try.