Newly Established United States Football League Has Players Seeking to Unionize

Kathryn Underwood - Author
By

May 9 2022, Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

The United States Football League, also known as the USFL, might bring to mind thoughts of a failed professional football league from the 1980s, but there’s a new USFL heading to the field. Unaffiliated with the former USFL that played from 1983 to 1985, the new USFL is under the control of Fox Sports.

Amid the relaunch, players are seeking to unionize, will they?

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The eight-team football league's games will be televised in 2022 by both NBCUniversal and Fox. Like the older version of the USFL, the new USFL will play in the spring and provide football entertainment for viewers outside of the regular NFL season.

USFL
Source: USFL Facebook

To avoid conflicting with the NFL, the USFL will play a spring schedule.

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The USFL is under the ownership of Fox Sports.

The new USFL returned in April 2022 with eight new teams. According to SportingNews.com, there was another failed attempt in 2010 for a league by the same name to launch.

When looking at who owns the USFL in its latest form, it’s important to note that no one affiliated with the 1980s USFL is involved this time around. The president of the USFL today is Brian Woods, while Fox Sports owns the league.

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Source: Twitter

Highlights of a USFL game

AL.com reported in the fall that Fox Sports committed a total of $150 million to the project over three years and will be the official broadcast partner. Fox will carry 22 of the 43 games in 2022, with NBC Sports taking the other broadcasts.

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Eight games will be broadcast on NBC, nine on the USA Network, and four on Peacock. “We’re excited to partner with the USFL and Fox Sports to present this new era of professional football,” NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said.

What teams and coaches are in the USFL?

The teams involved in the newly formed USFL are the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars, and Pittsburgh Maulers.

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Four of the league’s head coaches have been announced by Fox Sports:

  • Mike Riley—New Jersey Generals

  • Todd Haley—Tampa Bay Bandits

  • Kevin Sumlin—Houston Gamblers

  • Bart Andrus—Philadelphia Stars

Woods said that attracting such top coaches including two former NFL head coaches “speaks to the quality of the league we’re building.”

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Source: Twitter

Screenshot of union efforts

Will USFL players unionize?

According to ProFootballTalk, a union has its eye on USFL players. The United Steelers union has created a petition to officially represent all USFL players. UFPA founder Kenneth Farrow stated, "We needed some backing when it comes to labor, labor law, and things like that, and being able to unionize. We're not trying to come in and shut anything down, but we believe that if these leagues are going to continue moving forward... we need to have a collective voice."

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The USFL doesn't appear to be in opposition to the union attempt, per The Atheltic, it stated, "The USFL welcomes and respects the right of our players to organize with any union they elect to represent them."

The USFL claimed that they were aware that federal agencies were looking to represent the players and added that the league will cooperate with any agency to address any concerns regarding that topic.

As it stands, the future of a potential vote for a union hangs in the balance. Kenneth Farrow stated that players who are interested in working with unions are asking for "basic protections." On May 23, there will be a Notice of Representation hearing which will then decide if an election should happen.

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