The History Of USFL: NFL Stars And Donald Trump, What's Next With 2022 Rebirth


A professional football league that launched the careers of several NFL stars and had a team once owned by former President Donald Trump lasted only three seasons.

The USFL, which was active in the 1980s, announced plans to return with a new league and season in 2022.

USFL is Back: The USFL announced Thursday plans to play in the spring of 2022 with a minimum of eight teams.

The USFL will “delivery high-quality, innovative professional football to fans,” according to the league.

“We look forward to providing players a new opportunity to compete in a professional football league and giving fans everywhere the best football viewing product possible during what is typically a period devoid of professional football,” co-founder of the new USFL Brian Woods said.

Fox Sports, a unit of Fox Corp FOX, will be an equity investor in the league and the broadcaster of games. Eric Shanks, the CEO of Fox Sports, referred to the USFL relaunch as “a landmark day for football fans and Fox Sports.”

The USFL has the rights to key original team names but has not revealed city locations or team names at this time.

Related Link: Hollywood Ending: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Will Be New XFL Co-Owner In $15M Deal

History of USFL: The USFL lasted three seasons from 1983 to 1985. The league competed in the spring and summer and was originally a complement league to the NFL. The USFL switched to a fall/winter season to start in 1986, in direct competition to the NFL, but it ceased operations before it happened. 

The USFL had 12 teams compete and saw in-person crowds that averaged 25,000. The league had several items adopted by the NFL including several rules, parts of the draft, larger salaries for players and how the league handled free agency.

There are eight members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played in the USFL. Among the most recognizable USFL players were Doug Flutie, Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Steve Young and Jim Kelly. The USFL lured several Heisman Trophy winners to play over the NFL.

Two players that didn’t make their way to the USFL were Dan Marino and Jerry Rice. Both players were taken with first overall picks in the USFL Draft but chose to play in the NFL instead.

The collapse of the USFL led to a “30 for 30” documentary from ESPN, a unit of the Walt Disney Co DIS. The film called “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL” looks at the fall of the league and the impact it left.

Ties to Donald Trump: Before he was President of the United States, Donald Trump was an owner of the New Jersey Generals USFL team.


Interestingly enough, Trump is mentioned as one of the USFL owners that pushed for the league to take on the NFL with games played in the same season, which could have directly contributed to the league’s collapse.

An interesting story is a connection the USFL had to Trump almost owning an NFL team. The Buffalo Bills were hit hard by the USFL due to competing for players in a small market. After the USFL ended, the Bills were able to sign several players from the USFL and their future coach Marv Levy.

The moves led to the Bills becoming a top NFL franchise with several Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s.

When Bills owner Ralph Wilson passed away in 2014, Trump tried to buy the Bills team. Due to his past work with the USFL, Trump’s bid was rejected and instead Terry Pegula was able to acquire the team.

The failure to acquire an NFL team was part of a decision by Trump to pursue running for the President of the United States instead.

What’s Next: The USFL is scheduled to begin in 2022 but has not shared too many details on what the first year of the rebirth will look like.

The USFL will play in the spring, which will keep it from competing against the NFL, a move that contributed to its demise.

USFL games and demand for players could see direct competition from the XFL, which is targeting a 2022 resumption of play under new owners.

(Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash)

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Posted In: SportsGeneralBuffalo BillsDonald TrumpDoug FlutieDwayne JohnsonHerschel Walkerjim kellyMarv LevyNational Football LeaguenflRalph WilsonReggie WhiteSteve. YoungTerry PegulaUSFLXFL
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