Revived pro football league brings fans closer to the action

The USFL, which has a team in Houston, puts cameras and microphones on players and coaches.

By Michael Marks & Caroline CovingtonApril 22, 2022 10:45 am,

In 1984 and ’85, the Houston Gamblers were one of the most exciting teams in professional football. The Gamblers’ fast-paced offense kept crowds at the Astrodome on their feet. But if you’re not familiar with the team, you’re probably not alone.

Besides only playing for two seasons, the Gamblers were part of the United States Football League, not the NFL. The USFL has a colorful and short history, and is one of many leagues that’s tried and failed to challenge the NFL’s pro football monopoly.

Now though, the USFL and the Gamblers are back, with ambitions to offer a spring alternative for football fans who just can’t wait for the NFL to return in the fall. Reid Laymance, sports editor for the Houston Chronicle. Laymance spoke to the Texas Standard about the new league. Listen to the interview in the audio player above or read the highlights below.

Highlights from this interview:

– One of the differences with the USFL is the way games are broadcast. There are cameras and microphones on specific players and coaches.

– There are just eight teams, and they all play in one city: Birmingham, Alabama.

– One of the league’s hurdles will be getting fans to pay attention, since games aren’t played in local markets and players aren’t well-known. Also, preseason training camps, which usually give fans a chance to watch players up close, were all held in Birmingham.

“We did a little preview, enlisted some of the players, and it took a while to find out who they all were and what their what their experience is was because there’s no real household names,” Laymance said.

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