We are all excited that the new USFL is returning for its second season this April (see our Countdown page) – but you may wonder how long the USFL lasted on its first go.

Old USFL Logo

The United States Football League (USFL) was a professional American football league that played for three seasons, 1983 through 1985. The league played a spring/summer schedule in each of its active seasons. The 1986 season was scheduled to be played in the autumn/winter, directly competing against the long-established National Football League (NFL). However, the USFL ceased operations before that season was scheduled to begin.

The USFL was founded by David Dixon, a New Orleans art and antique dealer, who wanted to create a league that would provide more opportunities for young players and coaches. The league was initially successful, with teams drawing large crowds and television ratings. However, the USFL’s success began to wane in its third season, as the league was unable to compete with the NFL’s superior talent and resources.

The Original Houston Gamblers from the old USFL

The USFL’s demise was also hastened by a series of lawsuits filed by the NFL. The NFL claimed that the USFL was violating antitrust laws by trying to compete with the NFL. The USFL eventually lost these lawsuits, which forced the league to pay millions of dollars in damages.

Despite its short lifespan, the USFL had a significant impact on the American football landscape. The league helped to popularize the spread offense and the two-minute drill. It also introduced a number of new rules, such as the forward pass from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage and the two-point conversion.

The USFL also had a significant impact on the careers of many future NFL stars. Herschel Walker, Steve Young, and Doug Flutie all played in the USFL before going on to have successful careers in the NFL.

Will the new USFL outlast its first incarnation? Signs point to yes, with big network backing from Fox and NBC providing stability, but we will have to wait and see.

Let us know which USFL team you’ll be rooting for on Twitter @CFBSelect.