The Tampa Bay Bandits may be returning.
Some of you will remember the Tampa bay bandits that played in the USFL, the spring football league, from 1983-1985.
The Bandits were a charter member of the USFL and were coached by Steve Spurrier. The Bandits were one of the best teams on the field and at the box office.
The USFL is planning a relaunch in 2022. League founder and CEO Brian Woods have partnered with FOX Sports to bring the USFL in 2022 as an eight-team operation expected to begin to play in the spring of 2022.
This is a challenging endeavor as spring football has been met chiefly with yawns from many sports fans.
The NFL wraps up their season in February. March brings us March Madness, one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year.
In April, the sports fans’ attention turns to the NBA and NHL playoffs and the start of the baseball season. Then, by May, when the USFL will have its playoff push, sports fans migrate outside after the long winter, hitting the golf course, playing tennis, and participating in softball leagues.
It makes for a very challenging environment to draw eyeballs to the TV set and to get fans in the seats at stadiums.
In a statement released this week, Brian Woods talked about the new league and his expectations for spring football. “I’m extremely passionate about football, and the opportunity to work with FOX Sports and to bring back the USFL in 2022 was an endeavor worth pursuing. We look forward to providing players a new opportunity to compete in a professional football league and giving fans everywhere the best football viewing product possible during what is typically a period devoid of professional football.”
The AAF and the XFL are two of the most recent leagues that have tried spring football and could not turn a profit. As a result, both leagues ended up folding.
To be fair, the demise of the XFL was brought on quicker by the COVID pandemic in the spring of 2020.
The names and destinations of the teams in the new USFL have not yet been determined.
NFL greats Steve Young, Reggie White, Doug Flutie, and Herschel Walker all got their start in the original USFL.
You can read more about the history of the USFL in Football for a Buck by Jeff Pearlman. One of the most entertaining sports books I have ever read.
The XFL is also planning a spring return in 2022 led by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, who purchased the XFL this spring.
The Tampa Bay Vipers were one of the original teams in the XFL. Would both the XFL and the USFL place teams in Tampa?