The United States Football League (USFL) made its return Saturday. Notably, the original league saw success as start-up pro football league in the spring. However, it completed three seasons (1983-85) before going head-to-head with the NFL in the fall, which is when the league perished.
Where the USFL Succeeded
Five professional football Hall of Famers began their careers in the USFL. Significantly, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Gary Zimmerman, Sam Mills and Reggie White spent time in the league.
The new USFL kicked off Saturday night in a historic simulcast on FOX and NBC – delivering a projected 3 million viewers across the networks and their streaming platforms.
— USFL (@USFL) April 17, 2022
There is hope for the league to be successful, but it all comes down to quality of play. If the football is enjoyable, audiences will come back. If not, the league will face its demise once again.
While the players’ names might not be immediately recognizable by most fans, the coaches might be the most identifiable people of the field. Mike Riley is the head coach and general manager for the New Jersey Generals. Riley was previously the head coach at Oregon State and Nebraska.
Skip Holtz, now coaching the Birmingham Stallions, played football for Notre Dame. Holtz has been the head coach of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs , South Florida Bulls, East Carolina Pirates and Connecticut Huskies. Holtz served as an assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Colorado State Rams and Florida State Seminoles.
Kevin Sumlin, head coach of the Houston Gamblers, faced off with Jeff Fisher, head coach of the Michigan Panthers. Fisher is probably the biggest name connected with the league as he was the head coach for the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams in the NFL.
USFL Still Football
The USFL games were aired on Fox and ABC. The hosts and reporters made sure to treat each game with the respect it deserves. Fox used a variety of camera-angles, including drone shots and a helmet camera.
Riley spent a good part of Saturday’s game mic’d up, which gave viewers a look at what football coaches do and say on the sidelines. This is something that is not usually done in other football games.
Patterson Does Not Meet Expectations
Fisher brought out Shea Patterson, the No. 1 pick in the USFL Draft and former Michigan quarterback as their signal caller. Patterson had the chance to take the reigns and bring the Panthers back from a 3-0 trail. Instead, Patterson dropped back to pass and tripped over himself and fumbled the ball, allowing a Houston defender to pick up and run for a touchdown.
Tampa Bay Bandits Rescheduled
Due to severe thunderstorms in the area, the game seeing the Tampa Bay Bandits and Pittsburg Maulers was rescheduled for Monday at 7 p.m.