New American Football League Launches

New American Football League Launches

Jack Schroeder, Staff Reporter

On April 16, 2022, the United States Football League (USFL) began play of its inaugural season. Not to be confused with the 1980’s USFL, the new USFL uses the same trademarks and logos that the old one had used. Every game of the season will also be played in Birmingham, Alabama. 

The USFL has 8 teams, and is currently in the process of playing a 10 week season with 2 additional weeks for playoff contention. The New Orleans Breakers, Birmingham Stallions, Michigan Panthers, Houston Gamblers, Philadelphia Stars, New Jersey Generals, and Tampa Bay Bandits are the teams. The USFL is also divided into two divisions, the North Division and the South Division. 

The first USFL draft was on February 22nd and 23rd, where each of the 35 rounds were for a designated position group. 280 players were drafted during the first draft. The second draft, called the supplemental draft, happened on March 10th. The draft consisted of 10 rounds which had no position restrictions, and 80 players were picked by the teams. Some of the players who were drafted were former National Football League (NFL), Alliance of American Football (AAF), or X-Treme Football League (XFL) players.

The new league also comes with some major rule differences from the typical NFL rules football fans are used to, as well as an interesting way to measure first downs. Instead of just the generic 1 or 2 point-after-touchdown options, you can also attempt a 3 point conversion from the 10 yard line. In order to be granted the points, the play must be a run or pass that scores. On kickoffs, they are set to occur on the kicking team’s 25 yard line, meaning almost every kick will be returnable. Other precautions such as set-up zones and designated areas for the kicking team to line up limit the possibility of high-speed collisions, which can be dangerous. Instead of the NFL’s rule of if the ball travels more than 10 yards and the kicking team gets it, they get the ball, the USFL’s rule states that if no member of the receiving team touches the ball, the play ends and the receiving team gets to retain possession of it wherever it lands. This basically means that if the kicker fails to kick the ball far enough down the field, the receiving team can let it be and get better field position.

In overtime, the USFL will have a “shootout” format, which is what college football uses. Each team gets a chance to score a 2 point conversion set up in a “best out of three” contest. NFL-like onside kicks will be allowed, but an additional option is present. Teams can choose to try a 4th and 12th conversion from their 33 yard line. If they convert it, they keep the ball, but if they don’t convert it, the other team gets it wherever the play ends. The rest of the rule differences are minor or just different ways to distinguish the severity of a foul, game timing, coach challenging, or formation of plays. The new way of measuring conversions of first downs are by sensors in the football itself, indicating whether the ball crossed the first down line enough.