From 1983 through 1987, the United States Football League, sometimes known as the USFL, was a football league that took place in the United States. In all, there were 18 different teams competing. It played a spring/summer schedule in each of its first three seasons, and a typical fall/winter schedule was going to begin before league activities were halted, but the League never got off the ground.
David Dixon, a businessman based in New Orleans, Louisiana, saw in 1965 that there was a need for a football league that would compete during the off-season of the more established National Football League and came up with the idea for the United States Football League (USFL). Dixon had been a major figure in the expansion of the National Football League into New Orleans, which resulted in the establishment of the New Orleans Saints in 1967.
David Dixon, a New Orleans antiquities trader, who had been crucial in bringing the New Orleans Saints to town, was the mind behind the creation of the United States Football League (USFL). In the year 1965, he had the idea of football being played throughout the spring and summer. The American Football League (AFL) and the World Football League (WFL) were the two leagues that stood as the most significant competitors to the National Football League (NFL) during the course of the subsequent 15 years. In 1980, he commissioned a study by Frank Magid Associates, which showed that a spring and summer football league could be successful. He had also developed a plan for the operations of the potential League, which included early exposure on television, substantial advertising in home areas, and owners who were ready to bear years of losses, which he believed would be unavoidable until the League established its footing. In addition to that, he compiled a list of possible franchises that were situated in areas that would be appealing to a potential television partner. Dixon signed up 12 towns, nine of which already had teams in the National Football League (NFL) and three of which did not. Dixon’s first hire was the well-respected college and NFL coach John Ralston. They immediately came to an agreement with over-the-air television network ABC Sports and cable television network ESPN, which was only getting its start at the time. The arrangements generated around $13 million in 1983 and $16 million in 1984, with $9 million of that total coming from ABC each year. ABC was offered options for the 1985 season at a price of $14 million and for the 1986 season at a price of $18 million. On May 11, 1982, after almost two years of preparation, Dixon made the official announcement that the United States Football League would be formed at the 21 Club in New York City, with the intention of beginning play in 1983. Chet Simmons, the president of ESPN, was selected to serve as the League’s first commissioner.
Television coverage was necessary for the League if it was ever going to achieve its goals. The National Football League entered into a deal with both ABC and ESPN to televise the League’s games in 1983. Every week, a game would be shown on national television, in addition to the USFL’s very own take on the Monday Night Football format.
The United States Football League (USFL) experienced several off-the-field circumstances that, similar to practically all other professional football leagues that were first being started, prohibited the League from beginning with its intended membership. The issues began when Alex Spanos, the original owner of the Los Angeles club, withdrew his participation and instead became a minority owner of the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). Jim Joseph, a real estate entrepreneur, had the idea that he would be fine with being a part-owner of the Oakland Invaders after losing out to his buddy Tad Taube in the United States Football League franchise competition for the San Francisco Bay region. Joseph pounced on the opportunity to acquire the rights to the possibly more valuable Los Angeles franchise as soon as it became available. Owners of the San Diego franchise of the United States Football League (USFL), cable television magnates Bill Daniels and Alan Harmon, were denied a lease for Jack Murphy Stadium. This was partly due to pressure from the Chargers, as the Padres, who were playing in Major League Baseball at the time, held the lease to the stadium. Dixon and Simmons believed that two cable moguls would be better qualified to oversee the League’s operations in Los Angeles since they saw the city as essential to the League’s success. Joseph was compelled to relocate his enterprise to Phoenix, Arizona, where it subsequently became known as the Arizona Wranglers. The name of Daniels’ and Harmon’s squad was officially changed to the Los Angeles Express. The Boston franchise of the League, the Breakers, also had issues with their stadium. The Boston ownership group had their hearts set on playing their games at Harvard Stadium, but negotiations with the institution were unsuccessful. After that, they made an effort to negotiate a lease with Sullivan Stadium, which is the primary venue for New England Patriots games. Once again, their efforts could have been more fruitless. Finally, they successfully negotiated a lease to play at Nickerson Field, located on the campus of Boston University. Nickerson Field is a rather small venue, with just 21,000 seats available. As soon as games began to be played, the League saw the same type of instability, relocation, and closure of franchises that the majority of other leagues that compete with the NFL have encountered.
Notable people and achievements
As of the month of August 2010, the following six former players from the USFL have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
• Marv Levy (coach) – Chicago Blitz 1984 – HOF Class 2001
• George Allen (coach) – Chicago Blitz 1983 & Arizona Wranglers 1984 – HOF Class 2002
• Jim Kelly – Houston Gamblers 1984–1985 – HOF Class 2002• Steve Young – LA Express 1984–1985 – HOF Class 2005
• Reggie White – Memphis Showboats 1984–85 – HOF Class 2006
• Gary Zimmerman – LA Express 1984–1985 – HOF Class 2008
1983: Kelvin Bryant, RB, Philadelphia Stars
1984: Jim Kelly, QB, Houston Gamblers
1985: Herschel Walker, RB, New Jersey Generals
Chet Simmons (1982–1984; resigned under pressure from owners)
Harry Usher (1984–1987; League ceased operations)
Rushing attempts: 1,143 Herschel Walker
Rushing yards: 5,562 Herschel Walker
Rushing touchdowns: 54 Herschel Walker
Receiving catches: 234 Jim Smith
Receiving yards: 3,685 Jim Smith
Receiving touchdowns: 31 Jim Smith
Passing attempts: 1,352 John Reaves
Passing completions: 766 John Reaves
Passing yards: 10,039 Bobby Hebert
Passing touchdowns: 83 Jim Kelly
Passing interceptions: 57 Bobby Hebert
Arizona Outlaws (1985; the result of the Arizona/Oklahoma merger)
Arizona Wranglers (1983, 1984; Arizona and Chicago owners traded franchises)
Birmingham Stallions (1983–1985)
Boston Breakers (1983)
New Orleans Breakers (1984; moved from Boston)
Portland Breakers (1985; moved from New Orleans)
Chicago Blitz (1983, 1984; Arizona and Chicago owners traded franchises)
Denver Gold (1983–1985)
Houston Gamblers (1984–1985)
Jacksonville Bulls (1984–1985)
Los Angeles Express (1983–1985)
Memphis Showboats (1984–1985)
Michigan Panthers (1983–1984; merged with Oakland for the 1985 season)
New Jersey Generals (1983–1985)
Oakland Invaders (1983–1985; merged with Michigan for the 1985 season)
Oklahoma Outlaws (1984)
Philadelphia Stars (1983–1984)
Baltimore Stars (1985; moved from Philadelphia)
Pittsburgh Maulers (1984)
San Antonio Gunslingers (1984–1985)
Tampa Bay Bandits (1983–1985)
Washington Federals (1983–1984)
Orlando Renegades (1985; moved from Washington)
At first, the UFL intended to begin to play in the autumn of 2008, with a total of eight teams competing in predetermined locations. Both T. Boone Pickens and Mark Cuban reneged on their promises to become owners of teams in the League before the beginning of the 2009 season. Cuban’s decision came first. On February 9, 2009, it was announced that Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, had stepped forward to head a group of investors who invested $30 million to purchase four franchises to play in the League’s inaugural season in 2009. The franchises were purchased so that they could compete in the 2009 season.
The League had selected roughly 21 cities as prospective club destinations, each of which had a robust economic basis, a passionate football culture, and a large number of households that watched an average amount of TV. Markets that were targeted included Austin, Birmingham, Columbus, Hartford, Las Vegas, London, England, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Mexico City, Milwaukee, Monterrey, Mexico, New York City, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose, and San Jose, Texas. Other markets that were targeted included New York City, Oklahoma City, and Monterrey, Mexico.
New York City (Sentinels), Las Vegas (Locomotives), Orlando (Florida Tuskers), and the San Francisco Bay Area were selected as the cities to participate in the first season of the franchise’s debut (California Redwoods). The Redwoods were forced to play two of their three games in San Francisco due to the relocation of one of their contests to San Jose. Due to the fact that the League was unable to negotiate a financially viable arrangement for a stadium inside the city of New York, the Sentinels will be required to play one home game at each of the following locations: Hartford, Long Island, and New Jersey. In addition, one of the Tuskers’ games was played in St. Petersburg, Florida, in part because the Tuskers shared ownership with the Tampa Bay Rays during that season; however, this did not occur again in 2010.
The Florida Tuskers ended the 2009 season with a perfect record of six wins and zero losses. The California Redwoods were in second place with a record of 2–4, followed by the Las Vegas Locomotives with a record of 4–2, while the Sentinels were in last place with a record of 0-6. The Locomotives defeated the Tuskers in the 2009 UFL Championship Game. The game went into overtime, and the Locomotives won the championship by scoring a field goal. The abbreviated 2009 season was referred to as “a soft launch” by the League’s commissioner. This strategy was similar to the one the Arena Football League used during its first season, which took place in 1987.
The New York Sentinels moved to Hartford, Connecticut, before the start of the 2010 season, where they are now known as the Hartford Colonials. The supporters decided upon the new name of the team via the use of an online voting system. The California Redwoods moved to the city of Sacramento, California, and after a fan vote, they decided to change their name to the Mountain Lions.
Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio or Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City, Utah, were the five areas that the League announced were being considered for expansion franchises for the 2010 season. On April 15, 2010, the franchise for Omaha’s expansion club, the Omaha Nighthawks, was officially awarded.
In the early phases of the League’s formation, the name Mark Cuban was first brought up as a possible franchise owner. In April 2010, Cuban made the purchase that gave him a stake in the whole League. He will not own a specific club and will not be engaged in the day-to-day operations of any of the League’s teams or the League itself.
It was a blow for the League when the Florida Tuskers were forced to dissolve their operations in January 2011. The League reallocated the coaching staff that was already in Virginia to Omaha and fired the coaching staff that had been employed by Omaha before. The majority of the Tuskers’ staff was shifted to the Destroyers. Following this, the League lowered its aim to six clubs, with Portland, Oregon, Salt Lake City, and the new competitor Chattanooga, Tennessee remaining in consideration, but Los Angeles was removed from contention for the third year in a row. If there had been a sixth team involved, each squad’s total number of games would have increased to ten.
When the schedule for the 2011 season of the UFL was revealed on June 9, 2011, it was confirmed that the League would remain at its current size of five clubs throughout the season and that there would be no growth. The 2011 season was supposed to switch from its traditional late fall schedule to a late summer/early fall schedule beginning in August 2011 and ending in October; however, in July 2011, the UFL announced that it would delay the start of its season until mid-September due to financial issues. The late summer/early fall schedule was supposed to begin in August 2011 and end in October 2011. The League attempted to secure television coverage via discussions with CBS and TNT, but they were unsuccessful. In addition, the League was unable to retain its previous broadcast partners. Following the delay of this game, the League announced that it was seriously exploring more league contraction, with the possibility that the Hartford Colonials might be among the teams that would be eliminated.  The United Football League (UFL) made the announcement on August 10, 2011, that the Colonials would “halt operations,” and the League would go on with just four teams.
In October 2011, a consultant for the UFL named Jerry Glanville started a listening tour in Chattanooga, Salt Lake City, and Jackson, Mississippi, with the intention of determining the level of support for UFL expansion teams. He said that out of the three, “at least one has a UFL team, and one may receive a UFL squad.”
On October 16, 2011, immediately after each team’s fourth game, numerous reports indicated that the remaining games of the 2011 season had been canceled and that the 2011 UFL Championship Game between Las Vegas and Virginia would be moved up to the date of Virginia’s last home game, which would have taken place against Omaha on October 21. This news came immediately after the conclusion of each team’s fourth game on October 16, 2011.
2012 and beyond
Despite the League considering switching to a spring schedule in 2012, they are continuing their search for new franchises, with Salt Lake being a strong candidate. After an absence of one year, it has been speculated that the Hartford Colonials may make a comeback. As of March 2012, no progress has been made toward preparing a spring season (or, for that matter, any future season). Because Omaha’s head coach Joe Moglia, along with the bulk of his assistants, and general manager Rick Mueller decamped to jobs in college football and the NFL, respectively, without any evident attempts being made to replace them, Omaha’s staff is nearly totally barren. On January 31, 2012, Commissioner Michael Huyghue resigned from his job, citing the League’s significant financial troubles as the reason for his decision.
The United Football League (UFL) plays by almost all of the same regulations as the National Football League (NFL) and regular football, with the following notable exceptions:
The National Football League has a rule called the “No Tuck Rule,” which states that a pass is considered to have been completed forward if the quarterback initiates the passing motion by bringing his arm forward and then fails to maintain possession of the ball while attempting to tuck it back toward his body (and thus an incomplete pass if the ball hits the ground). This “tuck rule” is one of the most debated regulations in the NFL. In the United Football League, on the other hand, it is referred to as a fumble.
When the defense is blitzing or rushing, each play requires four defensive linemen to be in a three- or four-point stance before the ball is snapped. Blitzing is limited to a maximum of six defenders. If you break this regulation, the punishment is an unlawful defense, which is marked as unsportsmanlike conduct, and you will get a 15-yard penalty as well as a first down. The goal of this regulation is to protect the quarterback while also encouraging more points to be scored.
To avoid being sacked, a quarterback is permitted to deliberately ground the ball as long as he is able to bring the pass back to the line of scrimmage. This strategy is known as intentional grounding. It is optional to be in the open for this to occur.
If the ball is fumbled forward into the end zone and then out of the end zone, it is put back where it was fumbled at the beginning of the play. Fumbling out of the end zone.
With instant replay, the replay official watches all of the reviews from upstairs and has just 90 seconds to make a decision on what should happen next.
Celebrations of touchdowns Players are only allowed to celebrate (either individually or as a group) in the end zones or in the areas designated for the bench.
Both teams are guaranteed at least one possession under the UFL’s overtime regulations, in contrast to the sudden-death overtime format used by the NFL during its regular season.
Therefore, if one team scores on the first drive of overtime, the other team has the opportunity to equal that score or even surpass it if the first team’s first drive results in anything other than a touchdown and a two-point conversion. This would be the case even if the first team’s first drive resulted in a field goal. If the score is still tied after each side has had a single possession, the extra period will continue with sudden death. After 15 minutes, if the score is still tied, the game is considered to have ended in a draw. The first time that the overtime rules were put into play was in 2009 during the inaugural championship game of the United Football League (UFL). Las Vegas won the game on a field goal after Florida’s first drive ended in an interception.