The United States Football League is prepared to give spring football another try, and on Monday the eight teams that will open its first season in the spring of 2022 were revealed on Fox Sports. The league chose eight franchises that were also in the original USFL, which ran from 1983 to 1986, and retained rights to key original team names.
These are the eight teams that will play in 2022. Four will be in the North Division and four will be in the South Division:
New Jersey Generals
New Orleans Breakers
Tampa Bay Bandits
All eight teams will play games in one location in the inaugural season. The logos have been updated for the new league and Fox Sports explained that the central location will be announced at a later date. The league will begin play in April 2022, with games every Saturday and Sunday during a 10-game season.
"We're excited to take this next major step in the development of a new USFL," said Brian Woods, USFL President of Football Operations in a press release. "These eight teams form the core of our initial league membership and will represent an exciting brand of professional football coming this spring. We look forward to the start of our inaugural season."
The USFL is the third attempt at spring football in the last four years, hoping to stick past one season after the Alliance of American Football collapsed due to financial issues in 2019 and the XFL canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (the XFL is now aiming at 2023 for a return). The USFL originally debuted in 1983 and lasted three seasons.
The original USFL launched the careers of Herschel Walker, Reggie White, and many others due to competitive salaries that trumped what NFL players were making at the time. But the lack of a hard salary cap led to unsustainable payrolls that contributed to the league's destruction. The league started with 12 teams and had a territorial draft, to load up rosters with familiar local collegiate stars to attract fans.
That version of the USFL shut down in 1986. It had voted to move from a spring to fall schedule to eventually compete with the NFL -- an attempt to force a merger between the leagues. The USFL won an antitrust lawsuit against the league as the NFL violated anti-monopoly laws, but the USFL won just $1 -- and shut down in the ensuing months.
Fox Sports will serve as the initial broadcast partner of the league.
Here's how we ranked the "new" USFL team names and their revised logos as they are months away from the start of the league:
1. Philadelphia Stars
The two-time champions of the original USFL had one of the better logo and uniform designs of the league in the 1980s. The updated Stars logo has a modern twist that will go well in the reincarnation.
2. Birmingham Stallions
One of the most popular teams in the initial USFL still has one of the most popular names -- and one of the best logos. This version looks even better than the popular one from the 1980s.
3. New Jersey Generals
Another team logo that got a nice touch of modernization, keeping the scarlet, white, royal blue and sunflower gold colors that made them popular in the 1980s.
4. Tampa Bay Bandits
This name is actually named after the initial owner John Bassett's dog "Bandit," but the nickname just fits as one of the original USFL franchises.
5. Houston Gamblers
Not one of the original USFL franchises (from 1983), but Gamblers is a fun nickname. Keeping the "Gambler Red" colors moves this up a notch.
6. Pittsburgh Maulers
Named after the sledgehammer-wielding workers in steel foundries, the name fits the city. They basically kept the same logo from 1984, which is great to establish a brand -- even if it's hard to compete with the Steelers.
7. New Orleans Breakers
While this is a carry-over name from Boston, the name comes from a heavy sea wave that hits shore. With the hurricane damage New Orleans has received over the last 15 years, perhaps this wasn't the best idea.
8. Michigan Panthers
The initial USFL champions were a charter member, yet just lasted one season in the USFL. The NFL has the Panthers now, so the USFL could have done better here. Why not the Memphis Showboats?