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Are you ready for some (more) football? FOX is literally betting that you are even though you keep saying you aren’t.

Forty years after Donald Trump ran the USFL into bankruptcy so certain that the league managed to win an anti-trust suit charging the NFL with monopolizing the pro game yet was awarded only $1 (that’s right, a buck) in damages, FOX announced Monday it is bringing back not only the USFL’s original idea of spring football but also the names and logos of the original USFL franchises.

Trump’s New Jersey Generals will be back in uniform, although without Trump bankrolling them or his favorite candidate for Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker, carrying the football for them. So will the former USFL champion Philadelphia Stars, the Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers, Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, and Tampa Bay Bandits. They’re all back just not back where you left them.

Only one of the USFL’s original eight will actually be playing in the city or state it supposedly represents. That’s because the FOX executives behind this idea may be dumb but they’re not stupid.

Instead of losing millions carting what amounts to eight teams of semi-pro football players and all the TV equipment necessary to televise their games around the country for weekend games, they are sequestering all the teams in Birmingham, Alabama, where all the games will be played at University of Alabama-Birmingham’s stadium, according to multiple published reports. These guys will be living and working in the football version of a Covid bubble. Hopefully absent the Covid.

How this will generate fans for the individual teams is difficult to fathom but maybe they’ve already figured out their audience doesn’t have to be fans of football. They just have to be fans of staring at the television on Saturdays and Sundays watching large and largely unknown men slam each other into concussion protocols.

Spring football is an idea that has failed multiple times. It failed in the 1980s with the USFL. It failed several times with the XFL. So why might anyone think there is suddenly an appetite for watching teams you don’t care about with players you’ve seldom if ever heard of playing football during baseball season?

What may just change the failed paradigm this time is in the past you didn’t have online betting at your fingertips. Fantasy football is arguably more popular than for real football and many of the people playing it know about as much about the teams they build with NFL players as they’ll know with whoever runs out wearing a Generals’ helmet or a Stallions’ logo. The point is, well, pile up some points and maybe make a few bucks.

From FOX’s perspective it’s not as much to do with making money as it is creating cheap programming. It’s cheaper to put on a live event, especially if every week it is in the same venue, than it is to create, market, film and broadcast a weekly series so why not give the people what they don’t want because at last there’s a football and the illusion of competition involved?

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Whether there are enough degenerate gamblers and fantasy football fanatics to support USFL 2.0 remains to be seen (or not seen), but this certainly sounds like a cheap knockoff of the real USFL, which actually had some future star players in its midst when it first kicked off in 1983.

Several generations have passed since then so many of today’s fans may have forgotten that the original USFL not only signed Walker after his Heisman Trophy-winning final season at Georgia but also future Hall of Famers Reggie White, Jim Kelly and Steve Young as well as another Heisman winner in Doug Flutie. After its inaugural season the USFL looked like it might have found a niche for itself but its owners, led by the blustering Trump, quickly overreached, expanding from six teams to 18 despite receiving only $13 million in annual television revenue.

The league quickly went back to 12 after struggling financially for three years before Trump convinced his fellow owners to abandon the spring for the fall and to sue the NFL for $1.69 billion, in hopes of forcing a merger. NFL owners had already rejected Trump’s efforts to buy the Buffalo Bills (he’ll tell you he actually won that vote too) and wanted nothing to do with a phony blonde whose pockets were not as deep as he claimed.

The USFL won $1 in damages, which was the ultimate humiliation. This came as anything but fake news to Trump’s fellow owners, who quickly folded the league. Now, 40 years later, it is not only back as Fox promised but back in the spring with the same names as the original eight.

Of course, if fans of the Michigan Panthers or Tampa Bay Bandits want to actually see “their” teams in action they’ll have to go to Birmingham for the weekend. Or they can do what the aptly named Houston Gamblers’ fans may do – which is put a bet down on them and tune in on FOX for some sweltering football.

Since FOX also does baseball and pays a ton for those rights why would it counter program with weekend football? Perhaps because it fears a possible lockout or player strike as the labor battle begins to escalate. No baseball? No problem. Are you ready for some (more) football?

FOX is. So are Draft Kings and Fan Duel and MGMBet. The real question is will a new generation of football fans be more gullible than the one 40 years ago that gave the USFL’s first spring league a look and then looked away?

Barely two years ago XFL 2.0 tried that partnership of football and gambling, even offering its own in-house gambling app, but it never got off the ground. Perhaps it was because of the pandemic that hit at the worst of times for a business launching. Then again, that didn’t stop the NFL from functioning like nothing matters.

So will USFL 2.0 LIVE from Birmingham, Alabama blossom next spring? Maybe buy I’m betting my money that hay fever season will last longer than another USFL season.