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USFL seeks to take spring football to a ‘whole new level’

Thirty-seven years later, the USFL is ready to return.

The failed football league of the 1980s, which died in the form of an antitrust lawsuit by then-New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump, is back in 2022 under new ownership. The group owns the brands, although there are no other legal ties between the new and old entities.

The new USFL, an eight-team league led by Brian Woods under Fox Sports ownership, is trying to roll out an old premise: a spring football league that can capitalize on the nation’s boisterous appetite for soccer.

“I think the previous two attempts at spring football showed there was an appetite for it,” executive vice president of football operations Daryl Johnston told The Post. “The ratings that the Alliance and the XFL have generated have shown that there is interest from the fanbase to have more football in the calendar year.”

It is the fourth such entity to try in recent years after the failure of the AAF and XFL and the dissolution of the Spring League, also led by Woods. And surely its biggest obstacle will be the same as the other three leagues: a lack of star power or recognizable names.

Daryl Johnson is executive vice president of football operations for the USFL.

Unless you’re a die-hard football fan – and more specifically a die-hard college football fan – you’re unlikely to see many of the players you know. The first overall pick was former Michigan QB Shea Patterson, though the 35-round draft was split by position each round, and the league’s biggest names are of similar stature.

Still, that’s football, and it starts this weekend. The eight-team league is held entirely in Birmingham, Alabama, though its teams have geographic designations (including the New Jersey Generals, the franchise once owned by Donald Trump), with broadcasts on Fox and NBC properties.

“The quality of the product in the field has to be the driving force,” Johnston said. “And I think all the leagues, including ours, I think you’ll see that this weekend, that there’s a really good quality of football that can be played in those leagues. That’s the thing. more important.

The opener, which features the Generals and Birmingham Stallions, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and will be simulcast on Fox and NBC. According to the league, this is the first game televised on competing broadcast networks since Super Bowl I.

Much of the league’s draw will come from fanciful rules and an innovative broadcast style that he hopes will succeed.

The two biggest rule changes are the ability to get three runs after a touchdown, via a conversion attempt from the 10-yard line, and an onside kick alternative in which teams can take a fourth and 12 of 33 meters. line after scoring. Additionally, the clock will stop after a first down in the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters in an effort to create more scoring opportunities.

Overtime will be a best-of-three format in which each team collects the ball at the opposing 2-yard line. If still tied after that, the game will go to sudden death.

As a broadcast product, the league attempts to give fans as much access as possible. A huddle camera that should allow fans to hear quarterbacks communicate with the team, and microphones on the shoulder pad of nearly every player will give the broadcast a level of access that he hopes , will help attract fans.

“I think all three leagues have been very innovative and tend to push the envelope a bit when it comes to these situations,” Johnston said. “And I think you’re going to see the USFL take that to a whole new level.”

New York Post

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