USFL Officially Set To Return in 2022 at Fox Sports

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The United States Football League is coming back next year, which means springtime football. The USFL announced Thursday that it had signed a TV broadcast rights deal with Fox Sports.

Doug Flutie, who played a season for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, discussed his excitement about the league reforming. The former quarterback also wanted to dispel the idea that the league would only be a proving ground for future NFL talent.

“(The USFL) is real football,” he said. “It’s pro football at the highest level. It’s just being played in the spring. … We had Reggie White, we had Jim Kelly, we had Steve Young, we had Herschel Walker, we had name after name. We had 15 guys that played in the USFL that played in the NFL Pro Bowl the following year. The talent level is out there. It is an alternative for some players rather than going to the NFL, and it’s an opportunity for other players.”

The league formed in 1983 with spring games, but it folded in 1986. The USFL tried to compete head-to-head with the NFL and moved its schedule to the fall.

The original USFL had 12 teams, but this new version will have a minimum of 8, a press release about the league said. The league also retained the rights to its team names. Those included the classic Tampa Bay Bandits, the Los Angeles Express, the Houston Gamblers, and Oakland Invaders, among others.

The league will announce which teams are returning later this year.

“The relaunch of the USFL is a landmark day for football fans and FOX Sports,” said Eric Shanks, CEO and Executive Producer, 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.”

USFL Provides Another Option for College Players

Undrafted college players have limited options if they wish to continue playing football. They can try their luck at a team’s tryouts and hope to make the practice squad. They can go to the Canadian Football League or a start-up, gimmicky league such as Fan Controlled Football.

Johnny Manziel washed up on that shore in 2021. He currently plays for the Zappers.

But the USFL could provide a softer landing for undrafted players. With Fox broadcasting the USFL games, and if the league can retain viewers, the players will play on a national stage. And it will be an opportunity to carry on their love of the game. It will also give football fans something to look forward to besides the NFL Draft after the Super Bowl is over.