USFL promises to combine football with innovation as inaugural season begins this weekend
You can watch the inaugural game between the Birmingham Stallions and New Jersey Generals at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The excitement continues to build for the April 16 start of the new United States Football League (USFL) as the Birmingham Stallions will take the field against the New Jersey Generals at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.
Innovation is something the USFL is priding itself on. The league wants to bring an immersive and unique experience to viewers watching from their couches.
The USFL will utilize a double SkyCam, which will allow camera angles from behind the defense. Daryl Johnston, USFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, says this will differ from the NFL because the NFL doesn't allow a shot from behind the defense because they're worried that a quarterback's pass downfield will hit the SkyCam.
"Everybody says, 'Well what's the big deal there,'" Johnston said. "In the NFL you can't come in behind the defense because you're worried about the quarterback throwing a pass downfield and hitting SkyCam. So we've kind of allowed some of the technology and some of the camera angles to come into places they haven't been before."
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They'll also have a camera angle that will allow viewers inside the huddle and players will have microphones inside their shoulder pads, to give viewers a better feel of the physicality of the game. Players will also have cameras inside their helmets.
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For the USFL, it's all about granting the viewers access that they won't be able to get in another sports league.
"We have more access than you're ever going to have in any other sport you've seen before, and so that's the point – that we're trying to bring home to everybody is this ability to see and feel what's going on as if you're standing on the sideline with everyone else," said Brad Cheney, FOX Sports VP Field of Operations.
"So whether it's the helmet cam, the steady cam inside the huddle. But then again, back to that audio, you know, to be able to drop in on a conversation with the coaches on the sideline. Not just, you know, what you hear in the NFL pre-snap with the quarterback at the line of scrimmage, but actually the communication from the coach to the quarterback," stated Johnston.
And not just the players, but referees will have cameras inside their hats.
"They [fans] are going to be able to see the play coming at them and to the sideline with the sideline judge and one of the umpires wearing this hat. And this camera is that you're going to see in real-time what they're seeing," said Cheney. "And that's the really amazing part of what we're talking about here is that access and that ability to be there of remembering when we played football and that play coming at us and the speed and the excitement of what's happening. They're going to be able to see that."
The USFL will be composed of eight teams, split into two divisions: North and South. Each team will play a 10-game schedule, with teams in the same division playing each other twice and teams in the other division once.
The regular season will begin on April 16 and run through mid-June, followed by the playoffs.
The top two teams in each division will play against each other in the semifinals followed a week later by the championship game.
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In the North, the USFL will have the Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers.
The Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers and Tampa Bay Bandits will make up the South Division.
In the inaugural season of the USFL, all eight teams will play in Birmingham, Alabama, at both Protective Stadium and Legion Field.
You can watch the inaugural game between the Birmingham Stallions and New Jersey Generals at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
For more information on everything you need to know about the USFL, click here.