On April 16, the USFL season kicks off. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
United States Football League – USFL is a new American Football League that will play its games in the spring and summer during the NFL offseason.
When do they start?
The first weekend of play is April 16-17. The league has eight teams and is divided into two divisions. The Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars, and Pittsburgh Steelers will represent the North Division, while the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, and Tampa Bay Bandits will represent the South Division.
In the 2022 season, geographic alignment will not matter – all regular-season games will be played in the same stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.
The USFL regular season will end June 18-19. Two teams per division will advance to the playoffs. The USFL semifinals will be on June 25, with the first-ever finals on July 3. All 3 playoff games will be played at the Hall of Fame Field in Canton.
So who will manage the playoffs and lead the teams to victories in their first season?
A lot will likely depend on the head coaches in the USFL. The headliner here is Jeff Fisher, who has worked in the NFL with the Oilers/Titans and led St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. An odious mustachioed uncle who rose to fame in the NFL as a super middle infielder, consistently stamping out seasons 8-8 or 7-9.
Another big name is Todd Haley. He led Tampa Bay and was former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, plus was offensive coordinator for Arizona (2007-2008), Pittsburgh (2012-2017), and Cleveland (2018).
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Kirby Wilson won the Super Bowl twice as an assistant with the 2022 Bucanis and the 2008 Steelers. Bart Andrews (Philadelphia) was an assistant with the Tennessee Oilers and St. Louis Rams, working in many leagues, whether NFL Europe, CFL, and UFL. New Orleans’ Larry Fedora has not previously worked with a professional team but has led Southern Mississippi (2008-2011) and North Carolina (2012-2018). Skip Holtz (Birmingham) worked at the college level with several teams for more than 20 years before the USFL; veteran Mike Riley (Generals) has been coaching since 1975. He is better remembered for his stints with Oregon State (more than 10 years with the university) and the Canadian League (he won two league titles in the 1990s). Finally, Kevin Sumlin (Houston) was recently a prominent figure in college soccer in Texas until recently, having worked with the University of Houston and Texas A&M. It was under Sumlin that Johnny Manziel took the Heisman Award in 2012.
What will players be in the USFL?
The USFL draft was held Feb. 22-23 in Birmingham, Alabama. The league’s eight teams recruited the players they would start the 2022 season with. A total of 279 players were selected in 35 rounds.
The most interesting tandem of quarterbacks came from Michigan. Jeff Fisher’s team picked first at quarterback in the draft and took Shay Patterson, who played two years each for Mississippi and Michigan. Plus, the Panthers got Paxton Lynch, whom Denver Broncos general manager John Elway once blew the first-round pick of the NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay’s Jordana Ta’amu has been a regular signing with NFL clubs since 2019, plus he looked great in the St. Louis XFL. What’s funny is that Ta’amu stayed with Washington for a week in December 2021, when the team’s starting quarterback was Taylor Heinicke. It’s funny because Heinicke was the backup behind Ta’amu in the XFL with the Battlehawks just a year earlier.
How the USFL will look to New Orleans’ Kyle Slaughter NFL preseason king and Pittsburgh’s Kyle Laletta.
There will also be plenty of promising receivers in the league, such as Victor Bolden (Oregon State, coached with three NFL teams), Johnny Dixon (16 touchdowns in two seasons at Ohio State), Eli Rogers (822 yards in the NFL for the Steelers) and Derrick Willis (two seasons with the Cleveland Browns). Among the defensive players, linebacker Scooby Wright, a monster for the University of Arizona team in 2014 (163 tackles and 14 sacks in 14 games) stands out but was unable to open up at the professional level because of injuries. Plus, USFL safety Cody Brown, the XFL’s leader in interceptions, will play.
What channel is the USFL on?
The USFL games will be broadcast live by NBC, FS1, FOX, and USA Network. Fox and NBC can be streamed live via Puffer (registration required).
Highlights of USFL games will be available on the FOX Sports YouTube channel or USFL Unofficial.