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USFL 2.0

It’s all 1985 up in here.

Houston will be home to another spring football league.

A Fox Sports-backed reboot of the United States Football League, which originally existed from 1983-86, was announced Monday with play starting in April 2022. The eight teams will play in one host city to be determined.

The eight-team league will include the Houston Gamblers, a franchise with the same name as the city’s original USFL franchise that played in 1984 and 1985 and featured future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. He had signed with the USFL after balking at playing for the Buffalo Bills, who selected him in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft.

The league will have two divisions. The North will be comprised of the Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers. The South will have the Gamblers, Birmingham Stallions, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits. All the team nicknames were used in the original USFL.


Houston’s last spring football team was the Roughnecks of the revived XFL in 2020. The league suspended operations in April 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Roughnecks the only undefeated team at 5-0.

See here and here for more about the “new” league, which unlike in the 80s you can follow on Twitter. I suspect that the rebooted Gamblers, much like the late, semi-lamented Roughnecks will be better than the Texans, though that doesn’t answer the basic question for me of “why did anyone think we needed another reboot of another failed football league”. I thought I saw somewhere the Birmingham will be the city in which all the games will be played – I assume this is for logistical reasons, as that will be cheaper and easier than trying to get eight stadia for use – though it seems like a bad way to build fanbases. But this is probably more about TV revenue anyway, so whatever. If you like this kind of thing, it will probably be the kind of thing that you like. Mean Green Cougar Red has more.

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  1. David Fagan says:

    13 days and counting………

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    I remember this league. I remember the Pittsburgh Maulers. Many people objected to the name maulers as being too violent, so they became known as the Mallers, which was of course a big thing at the time, with Century III Mall, which has now reverted to its original use of a slag dump. The Maulers had a good season, but the league folded, if I recall, the USFL was going to go to an autumn season to compete directly with the NFL.

    The Maulers, meanwhile, were the only pro sports team in Pittsburgh not to have black and gold as their primary colors, which of course are the colors of the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins, as well as the city flag. The Maulers were purple, similar to the NFL Minnesota Vikings.

    I believe the NJ team was partly owned by Donald Trump, before he became president.

    I kind of think that this league is not going to be super successful, but with all of the TV options today, perhaps they will get a good broadcast deal.