Philadelphia is getting a new professional football team … sort of.
The Philadelphia Stars will make their return as one of eight teams in the inaugural season of the United States Football League, which is scheduled to begin play in April 2022. The league made the announcement Monday afternoon on FS1′s The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
If the name is familiar, that’s because the Philadelphia Stars were also a franchise in the original USFL, which launched in 1983 and lasted three seasons. The league consisted of 12 teams, including the Stars, who played two seasons at Veterans Stadium before moving to Baltimore.
But this version of both the USFL and the Stars is unrelated to the first, aside from sharing the same name and logos, according to a spokesperson for the league.
While the Stars will be based in Philadelphia, it’s unclear how much time the coaches and players will actually spend here, at least initially.
The USFL’s eight teams will play their first season in one yet-to-be-announced host city, making the league’s structure similar to the NBA’s 2020 COVID-19 bubble. In this case, though, it’s to ease logistics and costs as the league develops, according to a spokesperson. The league’s expectation is that teams will move to their host markets.
The other seven USFL teams also use the same names of their 1980s counterparts. The full league, divided equally into two divisions, is:
New Jersey Generals
New Orleans Breakers
Tampa Bay Bandits
Each team will play a 10-game schedule, with Fox Sports in charge of the league and acting as a broadcast partner. A four-team postseason will follow, ending with a championship game between division winners.
As previously announced, Brian Woods — the founder and CEO of the Spring League, a professional developmental football league — will serve as the league’s president of football operations. Former Dallas Cowboy fullback and longtime Fox NFL analyst Daryl Johnston will be the league’s executive vice president of football operations, while retired NFL referee and Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira will serve as the USFL’s head of officiating.
The new USFL enters a crowded field of new spring football leagues, including a revamped XFL with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a part-owner, which hopes to return in 2023 after a failed bid to merge with the Canadian Football League. Recent leagues, such as the Alliance of American Football and Arena Football League, shut down.
The Philadelphia Stars were originally owned by real estate developer Myles Tanenbaum, who patterned the team’s maroon and gold look off the colors of Central High School, where he was a bench warmer for the school’s football team. The Stars won the second USFL championship in 1984, and won again in 1985 after moving to Baltimore.
“I’ve gotten completely carried away. I didn’t know I could feel such excitement, such exhilaration,” Tanenbaum told the Philadelphia Daily News when he became an owner.
Former President Donald Trump owned the New Jersey Generals, and is widely blamed for the league’s failure by pushing for it to move to the fall to compete with the NFL. A number of NFL Hall of Famers got their start in the USFL, including Eagles legend Reggie White (Memphis Showboats), 49ers quarterback Steve Young (L.A. Express), and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly (Houston Gamblers).
The Philadelphia Stars was also the name of the city’s Negro league baseball team, which was founded in 1933 and played in the Negro National League at Passon Field (now called Pollock Field) and Shibe Park (later known as Connie Mack Stadium) through 1948, when Major League Baseball integrated. The team continued to play in the Negro American League through 1952.