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FOX Invests In USFL Revival For 2022

The league had been dormant since folding in 1985.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: USFL

The USFL is making a comeback in 2022. The league is returning next year after going dormant since 1985. It once featured stars like Reggie White and Herschel Walker and is the latest spring football league to take a crack at the calendar slot. 

The XFL returned and flamed out last year. A global pandemic made things very difficult for the fledgling league, yet the brain trust behind the USFL’s return believes the eight-team league will “deliver high-quality, innovative professional football to fans.”

There hasn’t been an announcement on official team names or cities, but the league has retained all of the original names from the 80s. Fox Sports owns a minority stake in the revamped USFL and will serve as the flagship broadcast partner for the league. Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks marked Thursday as “a landmark day for football fans and Fox Sports.”

Brian Woods is co-founder of the league; he has also helped build “The Spring League” which airs games on Fox.

“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,” said Woods. “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 original endeavor lasted from 1983 to 1985 and crumbled due to overspending and mismanagement. Former President Donald Trump was an original owner and had a hand in the league’s attempt to play in the fall, right up against the NFL. 

There could be two spring football leagues in 2022 after the XFL was purchased out of bankruptcy last year by owners Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and RedBird Capital Partners. There is no confirmed start date for the XFL as they continue negotiating a merger with the Canadian Football League.

Sports TV News

Liz Loza Joining ESPN As Fantasy and Sports Betting Expert

Loza will be a contributor on multiple platforms, and will make regular appearances on Fantasy Football Now, Fantasy Focus Football, Daily Wager, and other studio shows.

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Liz Loza is joining ESPN as a fantasy and sports betting analyst on a multi-year deal, the network announced Wednesday.

Loza will be a contributor on multiple platforms, and will make regular appearances on Fantasy Football Now, Fantasy Focus Football, Daily Wager, and other studio shows.

“I am thrilled to join ESPN’s best-in-class team of fantasy and betting analysts,” Loza said. “Collectively collaborating and creating content with this esteemed group – and for such an expansive and loyal fanbase – is an absolute honor. Be warned that I’m buying the dip on Cam Akers, and am always ready to bet on an underdog!”

Loza, who previously worked at Yahoo! Sports as well as co-hosting Ekeler’s Edge with Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, will make her ESPN debut today.

Her addition comes on the heels of ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry departing in July.

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Sports TV News

John Ourand: NBC ‘Played Possum’ With Big Ten Rights

“For the longest time, I didn’t think they were serious. I had heard that their early bids were really tepid.”

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On the latest release of The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand marveled at the job NBC did to secure the Big Ten’s media rights, which is expected to be announced in the coming week.

“NBC played possum,” Ourand said. “For the longest time, I didn’t think they were serious. I had heard that their early bids were really tepid. Didn’t suggest that they were very serious. They already have a Notre Dame game that goes in there, and now they’re going to have the Big Ten. So they’re going to have Notre Dame leading into the Big Ten on Saturday night. They have the most watched primetime telecast going on –what are we at now? 11 years running? — on Sunday Night Football. And they’re gonna have, on the weekends, a really strong lineup.”

Ourand also pointed out the importance of NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, in the deal and what that could mean for its future.

“Peacock is going to have some exclusive games. I can’t imagine — it’s certainly not going to be Ohio State/Michigan — but they’re going to have some exclusive games. And I can tell you, as a Maryland fan, if that exclusive game is Maryland versus Indiana, I’m subscribing to Peacock. That’s the whole point of streaming. It gets you into these really passionate, local fan bases and gets them to stream those games.

“NBC, coming from nowhere, to get what I think is a really good package — because I’ve been told ESPN’s deal did not include direct-to-consumer on ESPN+, it was a strict linear television deal — so NBC was able to do this for this for Peacock, which they need to build.”

Andrew Marchand, sports media columnist for The New York Post, pointed out more games on Peacock could potentially be better for fans than fewer exclusives.

“When you add one game here and one game there, it will annoy people,” Marchand said. “Maybe they get your service, or maybe you’re teaching people not to watch all your games.”

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Sports TV News

Curt Menefee to Call Two Seahawks Preseason Games

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26.

Jordan Bondurant

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Curt Menefee

The 2022 NFL preseason is going to kick off in earnest later this week, and the Seattle Seahawks have revealed their broadcast crews for two of the team’s three preseason contests.

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26. He’ll be joined in the booth by former Seahawk Michael Robinson. The games will air locally on KING 5, the city’s NBC affiliate.

Additionally for the TV broadcasts, Paul Silvi and Ray Roberts will host the pre and postgame shows, with former Seahawk Michael Bennett working as an analyst.

On the radio, Steve Raible and Dave Wyman will call all three games. Jen Mueller will be the sideline reporter. Michael Bumpus will be the studio host and will be joined by former players Jordan Babineaux, Paul Moyer, Roberts, Marcus Trufant and Robert Turbin.

Radio broadcasts air on Seattle Sports 710 AM and KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM and are distributed across Washington on the Seahawks Radio Network.

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