United Football League

The United Football League returned this weekend with another slate of spring matchups, marking the latest round of pro action from the merger of the XFL and USFL. All eight franchises came together across four different games, shaking up the league's early-season standings and writing some new storylines for the 2024 campaign.

What did you miss in Week 2? Here are some immediate takeaways from around the UFL:

Battlehawks are the face of spring football

St. Louis has yet to hoist the ultimate trophy since its 2020 return to pro ball as part of the XFL, but the Battlehawks are quickly confirming themselves as the contemporary face of the spring gridiron. A year after easily boasting the best attendance marks of the revived XFL, the Anthony Becht-led squad drew more than 40,000 at Saturday's home opener against the Arlington Renegades, a 27-24 thriller capped by a game-winning field goal.

It doesn't seem like a coincidence their crowd -- the biggest documented in modern pro spring football -- showed up at The Dome at America's Center, who housed the NFL's Rams from 1995-2015, before the franchise infamously bolted for Los Angeles. In other words, the Battlehawks are something of a perfect storm: must-see material in the UFL for their gutsy performances -- they are now 8-4 since the start of 2023, including their XFL mark -- but also their prime location.

Showboats struggling with Memphis market

UFL executive Daryl Johnston admitted while attending the Showboats' Saturday home opener that Memphis is drawing fewer fans than other teams: "It's not what we want it to be," he told the Commercial Appeal, citing a "low" turnout for Week 2 and revealing that UFL leaders are "already working on 2025" plans to build interest in the club.

"We definitely need to take a long hard look at what's going on here in Memphis," Johnston said. "We feel that it's a good product and -- where's the disconnect? Why are we not connecting with the community here? It is what it is right now."

The Showboats are a new iteration of a USFL franchise that originally played from 1984-1985. They began with last year's USFL revival, and then became part of the USFL conference in the UFL for 2024. Their interest levels may not be aided by their Saturday opener, during which they led 19-8 with less than a minute to play, only to surrender a game-winning score by the San Antonio Brahmas, who converted a fourth-and-12 onside-kick alternative in the comeback.

McCarron among QBs bound to draw NFL interest

Stop us if you've heard this before, but A.J. McCarron might be playing his way back into the NFL. The former Cincinnati Bengals backup made headlines for clutch outings as the Battlehawks' signal-caller in 2023, parlaying his admirable run into an emergency role with his old pals in Cincy. Now he's back in St. Louis and off to another hot start, with four touchdowns and no picks after the Battlehawks' nail-biting home opener. At 33, he could be ripe for another reserve NFL gig come the fall.

And he isn't the only quarterback with a potential lane to the NFL. Brahmas signal-caller Chase Garbers is the UFL's most efficient gunslinger through Week 2, fresh off a clutch finish that lifted San Antonio over Memphis. Undrafted out of California in 2022, he spent the previous two years as a Las Vegas Raiders prospect. Given a QB1 opportunity, he's completed well over 70% of his throws for the Brahmas, and goes into Week 3 with five touchdown passes and no interceptions.