The United States Football League jolted back to life Saturday, decades after the original USFL’s three-year run. The inaugural contest pitted the New Jersey Generals against the Birmingham Stallions, with the Stallions going on to win a thriller, 28-24.
Here are three takeaways from the spring league’s first game:
Big names … just not on the field
The natural problem all start-up football leagues face is that the top talent is in the NFL. That leads to a cap to the quality of football on display, and that was evident at times throughout Saturday’s game.
Beyond a few players that might cause the ardent college football watcher to go “Oh, that guy!” — there was a Scooby Wright III sighting this game — the most identifiable people on the field might have been the coaches: Mike Riley (Generals) and Skip Holtz (Stallions) should be familiar names to college football fans.
But off the field, the presentation was top-notch. Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt called the action for Fox (the game was also simulcast on NBC). As you’d expect of the two longtime Fox employees, they did a professional job and treated the action with the respect it deserves — even if it’s not the NFL or the biggest college football game of the week, guys are putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment, after all.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett also made his debut as a TV analyst for NBC, appearing pregame and at halftime.
Fox used a wide variety of cameras, including neat skycam shots done via drone and the “helmet cam,” which took you right into the chaotic heart of the action.
In the third quarter, Riley spent a considerable amount of time mic’d up, which lent interesting insight into what football coaches are doing on the sideline.
All-in-all, it was a solid broadcast.
It’s still football!
Even if it might not have been the…