Everything You Need to Know About the USFL’s Return

| June 9, 2021 7:45 am PDT

Last year the XFL made a comeback. This past spring the cast of Friends shot a reunion special. What’s next, the USFL will be pieced back together?

It seems so. As wild as it sounds, it isn’t fiction.

The left for dead USFL is officially returning in 2022, with the defunct league kicking off a brand-new season with eight operating franchises.

The United States Football League was a hit for three years in the 1980s, but upon attempting to compete with the NFL during the fall, the league went under.

It’s been gone since 1986, but it’s back in our lives, and much like everything else in the grand world of sports, you’ll be able to bet on it. To get you revved up for the 2022 return of the USFL, let’s go over everything you need to know.

Where to Bet on the USFL

USFL Football Logo

First thing is you’re going to be able to bet on the USFL, so it may pay to get a rolodex of reliable USFL betting sites.

Not much needs to go into this, of course. I just thought it’d make sense to point you to some of the best sites for betting on the USFL in 2022.

Are the sites listed above specifically in existence just for your USFL betting needs? Of course not. However, they are extremely reputable sites that have offered countless wagers for NFL and college football games, not to mention betting opportunities for the CFL and XFL.

Basically, if you want to bet on football, the USFL will be thrust into that betting genre, and these sites are some of the safest, most versatile options you will find online.

There is a lot that goes into getting up to speed with the return of the USFL. Having a few go-to football betting sites should be part of the process.

The History of the USFL

Even the most diehard NFL fans may not really remember the USFL, but it was surprisingly prolific in terms of offering a quality product and hosting a litany of massive names.

Before we look to the future of the league with the return of the USFL in 2022, let’s reflect on what once was.

What is the USFL? 

The current iteration of the USFL – or what it will be in 2022 – is relatively unknown. It doesn’t appear it’s an official relaunch of the exact league, either, but more about reproducing or breathing new life into the rights.

That said, the USFL (also known as the United States Football League) was created in 1983 by David Dixon and was run during the spring.

Dixon realized there was a market for professional football in the spring, and he aimed to take advantage of it. For three years, it looked like that plan might work, but overly aggressive ownership and some bad decisions led to the USFL’s demise.

How Long Did the USFL Run?

As noted, the USFL only lasted three whole seasons. The United States Football League was founded in 1982, beginning its first year of action in 1983, and running through the 1985 season.

The league voted to move its regular season schedule from the spring to the fall to compete with the NFL in 1986, but legal and financial issues interrupted this plan.

The USFL completed three seasons, naming the Michigan Panthers, the Philadelphia Stars, and the Baltimore Stars as their lone champions.

Who Was in the USFL?

The USFL was easily the most star-studded professional football league this side of the NFL.

No football league can ever hold a candle to what the NFL has accomplished, but in terms of raw star power, the USFL was the closest in history.

Even though it deviated from Dixon’s original vision of sustainable growth, the league aimed high and recruited some massive names out of college.

Here are some of the huge football stars that suited up in the USFL.

Collage of Reggie White, Jim Kelly, and Herschel Walker
  • Jim Kelly
  • Reggie White
  • Herschel Walker
  • Steve Young
  • Sam Mills
  • Bobby Hebert
  • Mike Rozier

There are other big college football stars that made a name for themselves in the USFL but aren’t quite as noteworthy due to not continuing their play at a high level once the league folded.

Most football fans instantly recall the inclusion of Walker, Kelly, Young, and White, of course, as they all went on to become stars in the NFL.

Walker was extremely dominant in the USFL, securing the league’s rushing titles in two of the three years. He topped 1,616+ rushing yards each year he was in the league and accrued 49 total rushing scores.

Kelly is best known for guiding the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowl appearances, but before becoming more of a game manager, he lit up the USFL to the tune of 85 touchdowns through two years.

Reggie White might be the most dominant player to ever appear in both leagues, as he got his pro football career started off with a bang (23.5 sacks) in two seasons with the USFL.

What does this tell us? Major stars entered the USFL, they put up eye-popping numbers, and they parlayed that success into some historic NFL careers.

The question, of course, is if that can continue with the USFL coming back in 2022.

Why Did the USFL Fail?

Everyone always wants to know why these start-up football leagues fail, and pretty much every time the answer is the same, money.

The league was supposed to start out conservative, as David Dixon had a three-pronged plan, with two things sticking out the most.

  • Territorial drafts
  • $1.8 million team budgets

This was to increase interest in each team by hyping up and promoting local players. Understandably, the interest for the team would start in its direct location, and eventually grow.

Financially, each team was to restrict its spending and simply work at slowly building themselves out, while also developing the local talent.

Of course, the USFL got a bit too big for their britches relatively early on. They sought out Heisman Trophy winners and some of the biggest stars’ college football had to offer, and directly competed with the NFL to do so.

On top of that, the league voted to move their spring schedule, and dealt with lawsuits with the NFL. All things considered; it was impressive that the USFL even lasted as long as it did.

Those star players obviously assisted the USFL in its rapid growth and contributed to putting a good product on the field. However, greed, rushed growth, and contending with a giant like the NFL collectively killed the USFL before it could realize its potential.

Getting to Know the USFL in 2022

It’s always difficult to move forward without looking back, but the funny thing about the revival of the USFL is that it’s not really a comeback.

The original owners and league decision-makers aren’t part of the process, and the league itself isn’t the same entity we once knew. Instead, this is headed by Brian Woods, who previously put together the Fall Experimental Football League, as well as The Spring League.

The latter famously assisted Johnny Manziel in a failed comeback attempt and obtained the rights to use USFL trademarks.

The league itself is said to “own” all the teams involved, which could potentially make things less complicated when trying to stick to a joint vision for the league.

What Teams Are in the USFL?

Not much is known about the return of the USFL. All we know for sure is that the rights to the league belong to Woods, and he is marching into 2022 with the intent of having a “minimum of eight teams” for the first season.

That means the USFL should have eight teams in 2022, but the final count could climb to 10, or maybe even higher.

Per reports, Woods and the new USFL own the following trademarks.

  • Dallas Stallions
  • Houston Gamblers
  • Memphis Showboats
  • Michigan Panthers
  • New Orleans Breakers
  • Pittsburgh Maulers
  • Saint Louis Invaders
  • Tampa Bay Bandits
  • Arizona Wranglers
  • Baltimore Stars
  • Chicago Blitz
  • Los Angeles Express
  • Oklahoma Outlaws
  • Philadelphia Stars
  • New Jersey Generals

Three key points to consider; the USFL probably will opt not to use two franchises with “Stars” as the logo, there is a reported emphasis on building each franchise around a specific city, and some smaller market teams are a near-guarantee.

It would obviously be wise for the USFL to get their name out there in big markets like Chicago and L.A. but giving some cities without a professional football team also makes a lot of sense.

Tying team success to cities also may rule out the possibility of Oklahoma or Michigan trademarks being utilized in the 2022 launch.

The exact list of USFL teams for 2022 isn’t known yet, but the odds appear quite good that they’ll come from the list above.

What Players Are in the USFL?

There is understandably even less known about which players will play in the USFL in 2022. The odds are surprisingly good, however, that Woods will look to avoid the same mistakes of so many failed professional football leagues.

One mistake to stay away from could be over-compensating too many superstars. While the draw of big names is obvious, the league may want to put the clamps down to ensure they don’t give away too much cash too quickly.

That said, a good place to start when building out USFL rosters could be the following.

  • CFL players
  • AFL players
  • Undrafted college football players
  • Ex-NFL stars
  • Ex-AAF and XFL players
  • NFL players with contract issues
  • Retired/suspended NFL players

Some of these options aren’t completely realistic, but you just know the Andrew Luck comeback rumors will swirl, and all bets are off as a new football league tries to make a good first impression.

The USFL isn’t going to snag Heisman winners this time around, of course, and no matter how much bidding they do, they won’t out-wit the NFL for legit college football talent.

Instead, they may have to target college football players that know their NFL prospects aren’t great or chase down faded NFL stars and other professional football league alumni that haven’t “made it” yet.

There could even be some NFL players that have been pushed out of the league, and the USFL could offer them a spot to continue to play the sport they love.

Basically, following a similar blueprint to what the XFL did in 2020 before folding is a logical path.

Will the USFL Revival Succeed?

Is all this just a huge waste of time? Probably.

The AAF felt solid but caved due to poor funding. The rebirth of the XFL also looked somewhat sustainable (and the product was honestly good), but a global pandemic nipped that in the bud.

On paper, creating professional football leagues is a bad idea. They never pan out, and even when they do, they have an expiration date. The dream lives on, though, and it seems like Brian Woods thinks he can make it work.

There is a path to that happening, believe it or not. Here are the things I think need to happen for the USFL to succeed.

  • Get some stars
  • Limit spending
  • Don’t get greedy
  • Don’t compete with NFL
  • Be creative
  • Keep it about the fans

No league of any kind is going to be successful without some recognizable star power. I think there definitely are some players that should play in the USFL, and it could be a mutual partnership.

After all, Phillip Walker, and a handful of XFL players shined last spring, and it earned them jobs in the NFL.

While getting some big names is ideal, the emphasis should be on quality talent. That contributes to a good overall product and should work to keep the fans engaged.

None of this matters without a good financial plan, of course. The good news is that the USFL does already have a broadcasting deal with FOX, though.

That’s encouraging, and if they slowly build this thing up, don’t get greedy, and avoid direct competition with the NFL, they might have something here.

But if you can bet on whether the USFL will succeed, I’d lean on history here. The short and simple answer is probably an emphatic “no”.

Betting on the USFL in 2022

USFL 2022 Graphic

Hopefully, this USFL breakdown offered a crash course on what the USFL was, is, and where it could be going. As you can tell, of course, there isn’t that much concrete information out just yet.

You should not expect it to be that way, either, seeing as the XFL was quiet about a lot of its developments, and didn’t make its first big signing (Landry Jones) until long after its return was announced.

It is already June as I write this, however, so the USFL is probably about a year away from it’s return, so before long you will hear about official cities and trademarks, coaches, a USFL draft, player signings, schedules, and so much more.

Even before then, most football betting sites should allow you to bet on a handful of USFL props. One is whether or not the league will last, another is if specific players will join the league, and then once the league arrives, you can bet on games, player props, and who will win the 2022 USFL title.

There is so much to look at here, and even though the USFL probably has a similar expiration date to every non-NFL football league before it, this is still exciting.

It’s especially thrilling for sports bettors, as you get one more appealing league to scout and bet on. I will be here every step of the way, too. For all your 2022 USFL betting news, hit up our sports betting blog.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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