The USFL Is Returning More Than 35 Years After Collapsing And No One Is Really Sure Why

USFL football league returning 2022

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  • The USFL is unexpectedly being revived almost 35 years after going defunct
  • The football league lasted for three seasons before imploding in spectacular fashion by attempting to take on the NFL
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Historically speaking, launching a professional football league positioned as an alternative to the NFL is the sports equivalent of trying to invade Russia winter; plenty of people have tried to do it over, but the vast majority of them have failed in a fairly spectacular fashion.

It’s been a little over two years since the AAF folded eight weeks into its inaugural season, and if you managed to find a sportsbook that let you wager on whether or not the XFL would last longer than it did during its first incarnation, you probably walked away with a pretty solid payday if you bet the under when the league filed for bankruptcy after the pandemic forced it to cease operations after a five-week run.

When you compare it to those two examples, the United States Football League actually had a pretty good run. After launching in 1983, the USFL seemed like it had the potential to hold its own until its owners—led by Donald Trump—flew too close to the sun by deciding to try to go head-to-head with the NFL by pivoting from a spring schedule to one that was supposed to kick off in the fall of 1986.

The USFL did manage to score a pyrrhic victory by winning the anti-trust lawsuit it filed against the NFL that year only to hit a bit of a snag when the court ruled the upstart league was entitled to a whopping $1 in damages. While that amount was tripled due to antitrust laws, those two extra bucks somehow weren’t enough to salvage things.

It’s been 35 years since that fateful ruling, but on Thursday, we were treated to a pretty wild development, as ESPN reports the USFL is coming back from the dead after announcing plans to officially reboot when the eight teams it will tentatively consist of take the field in the spring of 2022.

USFL legend Doug Flutie linked up with official broadcast partner Fox Sports for a video in which he tried to explain what will set the new USFL apart, calling it “pro football at the highest level” (although I’m sure the NFL might have a thing or two to say about that claim).

The new venture is being launched in conjunction with The Spring League and is being positioned as an alternative for players who may not have the skills required to make an NFL squad. The USFL will likely be competing with the third incarnation of the XFL, and while plenty of people seem to be excited by the prospect of a spring filled with football, there are others that are slightly more skeptical this will be the organization that manages to avoid repeating history once again.

Will that end up being the case? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.