On New Year’s Eve, a groundbreaking announcement was made, officially introducing the United Football League (UFL), a significant milestone for spring football. This premier league is the outcome of a merger between two prominent football leagues, the XFL and USFL.
Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia Unveil UFL Merger on ‘FOX NFL Sunday’
Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia officially announced the formation of the United Football League (UFL) during a live broadcast on “FOX NFL Sunday.” The duo outlined their vision for the UFL, highlighting its commitment to being a league of opportunity, culture, and innovation.
Dwayne Johnson, the Founder and CEO of Seven Bucks Companies, expressed, “From day one, our mission has been to expand the game of football and be a league of opportunity, culture, and innovation.”
Leadership roles within the UFL will be held by Russ Brandon and Daryl Johnston, former heads of the XFL and USFL, respectively. Although specific details about the number of teams and their representing cities are yet to be revealed, a news release identified key UFL partners, including the three XFL owners, USFL owner FOX Sports, and ESPN.
What Can You Expect from UFL?
The United Football League (UFL) is set to kick off its inaugural game on March 30, 2024, featuring a clash between the Arlington Renegades and Birmingham Stallions, champions of the 2023 XFL and USFL seasons, respectively.
Spring football, according to officials from both leagues, serves as a crucial platform for players to showcase their skills, potentially paving the way for a leap to the NFL. Additionally, the UFL offers a final season for those transitioning away from the field.
Dwayne Johnson emphasized the significance of this opportunity on “FOX NFL Sunday,” stating, “The dream for me was to play in the NFL. Imagine all those 54s out there, you tell them, ‘You’ve got one more chance in the UFL,’ and then to go on to the NFL, potentially – how do you think they’ll play? They’re gonna ball out.”
Major NFL Broadcasters Ready to Back UFL
Apart from the opportunities for players, the UFL presents significant value for broadcasters.
FOX and ESPN, prominent figures in sports broadcasting, are actively engaged in bringing UFL games to screens during a sports calendar lull when the MLB is just starting, and the NBA playoffs are still unfolding.
Executives from FOX Sports and ESPN expressed their optimism for the UFL, highlighting innovation, community, and storytelling across both traditional and digital platforms.
“FOX is synonymous with football, and the success of the USFL has demonstrated that there’s a promising future for spring football,” stated Eric Shanks, CEO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports.
United Football League Announces 8 Markets and Appoints Coaches
The recently established United Football League (UFL) has finalized its eight markets and appointed head coaches for each team as it gears up for its debut on the field in March 2024, as announced on Monday.
The UFL will maintain a presence in four XFL markets, three from the USFL, and one shared by the now-merged leagues. The eight teams, all located in the Eastern or Central time zones, will be divided into two conferences named after the leagues that shaped them. Four coaches from the XFL and four from the USFL have been retained.
Here is the breakdown of each team and its coach:
- Birmingham Stallions: Skip Holtz
- Houston Roughnecks: Curtis Johnson
- Memphis Showboats: John DeFilippo
- Michigan Panthers: Mike Nolan
- Arlington Renegades: Bob Stoops
- D.C. Defenders: Reggie Barlow
- San Antonio Brahmas: Wade Phillips
- St. Louis Battlehawks: Anthony Becht
Both leagues had teams in Houston in 2023, and the UFL chose to retain the XFL team’s brand while appointing the USFL team’s coach.
UFL players are set to report to training camp on Feb. 24 in Arlington, Texas, where the XFL trained last season. The league will feature a 10-game regular season starting on March 30, kicking off with a matchup between Birmingham and Arlington.
In 2023, the USFL and XFL had separate, partially overlapping schedules. The intent to merge was announced on Sept. 28 and received regulatory approval on Nov. 30. Previously, the XFL had explored a partnership with the Canadian Football League in 2021, but negotiations did not result in an agreement.