USFL vs NFL, what’s the difference between these two football leagues? It is easy to see that Americans love football, with millions watching all through the season. The vast majority of viewers are tuning in to sports channels to watch the NFL, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t a market for another league, and that is exactly what the USFL is.

The USFL has been the name used by other leagues that have tried to launch over the years, but this iteration successfully completed a 2022 Championship season. People are already speculating and gambling on future winners. Who will be the next USFL champion? That same interest has existed for over 100 years of the NFL, so it is going to take a lot for the fledgling league to take over or compete, but it has gained plenty of interest and traction in a short time.

What is the USFL?

While most people are familiar with the National Football League (NFL), the United States Football League (USFL) is a relative newcomer. There were some attempts to launch a league of the same name in the 1980s, but these efforts are not connected at all to the current version of the league we see today.

There is still space for new leagues to launch in top sports. In cricket, leagues such as the Lanka League and The Hundred have launched in recent years and continue to grow.

The USFL is made up of eight teams at the moment and was originally won by the Birmingham Stallions.

Different teams

Of course, there are different teams involved in both these leagues.

The original NFL looked pretty different than its current iteration, with teams such as the Columbus Panhandles, the Buffalo Canton Bulldogs and the Akron Pros involved when it started. Nowadays, the lineup is pretty well-known, and the biggest teams in the league are relative mainstays.

With the USFL, we have had to get used to some new teams, and that means that there are some new locations where football is now being played in local stadiums.

We’ve mentioned the Birmingham Stallions from Alabama already. The rest of the USFL teams include the Houston Gamblers from Texas, the New Orleans Breakers, Tampa Bay Bandits, and in the North Division, the teams include the Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers. The league has plans to grow and it seems like future seasons may incorporate some additional teams in new locations.

How the two leagues vary

There are many ways in which the leagues vary besides the fact that they are different in terms of teams.


At the moment, the viewership is vastly different. This is probably to be expected due to the fact that it is a new league. The Championship game of the last season was viewed by 1.52 million people on Fox. That’s still a pretty impressive level of viewership for a brand-new league.

When we compare that to the NFL’s viewership though, the Superbowl, the biggest event on the calendar, was watched by an estimated 99 million people last season.


The salary of the players is also vastly different. This is to be expected when you consider the fact that the USFL is a relative newcomer. In the USFL, the pay is “$45,000 for Active Roster players, $15,000 for Practice Squad players and $600 weekly during training camp”.

Compare this to the NFL, where some players are earning many millions of dollars a year, and you will see how different the leagues actually are at this moment in time.


There are some subtle variations in the rules too. The NFL’s rules and way of playing football has been long established, but that has been tweaked in the USFL.

In the USFL, there is overtime in any game that hasn’t been decided by full time. Rule differences include the fact that two forward passes may be made from behind the line of scrimmage. Offensive linemen are able to advance on a forward pass play if the pass doesn’t cross the scrimmage line. Catches must be made with at least one foot in bounds.

The points scoring is slightly different too, with after-touchdown points including three-point conversions from the 10-yard line.


If the USFL ever wants to be as big as the NFL then it certainly has some catching up to do, but don’t rule this out just yet, as the league has made a really promising start and attracted millions of viewers.

Huynh Nguyen

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