We’ve posted a few items in recent weeks about the unique rules of the USFL, which debuts tonight. From a fourth-and-12 alternative to onside kicks to a two-point shootout in lieu of standard overtime to defensive pass interference not being a spot foul unless egregious to no 10-yard chains to measure first downs, there are plenty of differences between the four-letter upstart and the three-letter behemoth.
Here’s another. In addition to the NFL-style (and distance) one- and two-point options, a team that scores a touchdown can go for three. The ball gets placed at the 10. Get it into the end zone, and six points become nine.
Which means a one-score game has expanded to nine points, and an 18-point game is still a two-score game.
With the fourth-and-12 option for keeping possession after a touchdown, even a 27-point margin in the fourth quarter isn’t entirely safe. Which should get people to keep watching, if they already are.
That’s the real question. Will people watch? Legalized gambling will help, since if folks have skin in the game they’ll be more inclined to monitor it. Still, the annals of pro football are littered with failed spring leagues.
This one could be different. The AAF failed in 2019 because it ran out of money, in part because it was spending too much and didn’t have enough. The second iteration of the XFL ended in 2020 due to the pandemic. The USFL, which lasted for several years in the 1980s until it foolishly shifted to the fall in order to compete directly with the NFL, has one year to itself before the XFL returns again.
Maybe both will succeed. Maybe one will fail. Maybe both will fail. I still think, as explained in the final chapter of Playmakers, that a Tuesday and Wednesday night minor league during football season would have a much better chance to thrive.
Of course, if that ever happens, Tuesday and Wednesday NFL games will instantly become a regular occurrence.
USFL debuts tonight with a three-point option after touchdowns originally appeared on Pro Football Talk