The United Football League is often forgotten about in the Alt-Football Universe, but many coaches and players in the NFL have to attribute some humble beginnings back to the league. With the League ceasing operations over ten years ago, last year saw Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Sean McVay and Defensive Line Coach Eric Henderson earned rings as both at one point were a part of the Florida Tuskers and Las Vegas Locomotive franchises respectively. This year the UFL’s legacy remains alive as Twelve former players and coaches are on the NFL teams Playoff rosters, going into the 2023 Super Wild Card weekend.
What was The UFL?
The UFL was another attempt at an Alt-Football league however, this league played in the fall, competing against the NFL. The team wanted to be the NFL’s G-League and had many similarities like the AAF. Founded by Bill Hamberbrecht, it had investors and supporters like Paul Pelosi, Michael Huyghue, and Joe Mogolia, and even had established coaches like Jim Haslett, Marty Schottenheimer, Dennis Green, and John Fassel all leading teams at some point.
Formers Redskins/WFT Head Coach Jay Gruden would even get his first outdoor football Head Coaching Job with the league going 5-3 in his lone season with the Florida Tuskers. I’ve attached a great YouTube documentary below, that outlines the rise and fall of the league and highly recommend anyone interested in the league watches.
Who is Coaching this weekend?
UFL coaches include Todd Washington (Hartford Colonials), Tony Sparano Jr. (Hartford Colonials), Johnny Holland (Virginia Destroyers) and Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel (California Redwoods/Sacramento Mountain Lions), all were a part of the leagues coaching staff, with Sparano Jr. using the job as his first pro football opportunity and McDaniel being the Running Backs coach earning his first shot as a position group coach. Notably Todd Washington was also a part of two more Alt-leagues having stints with the AAF’s Orlando Apollos and XFL 2.0 DC Defenders.
The UFL is also seeing former players who’ve transitioned into coaching also carry their legacy. Former 49ers special teams stand-out Michael Wilhoite got his first playing opportunity with the Omaha Nighthawks (2011), while Quarterbacks Pat White, Brian Johnson, and Jerrod Johnson all had stints with the Virginia Destroyers, New York Sentinels, and Colonials/Mountain Lions respectively. All four former players are now currently serving as NFL assistants for the 2023 playoffs.
Players Still Active:
Despite ceasing operations about Ten Years ago, the UFL still has former players who are currently still playing on NFL rosters. Josh Johnson, Graham Gano, and Matt Overton played with the Mountain Lions, Locos, and Nighthawks with Gano and Overton earning Pro-Bowls in their post UFL career. All three players are set to be active for the 49ers, Giants, and Cowboys come Wild Card Weekend as well.
As we at XFL News Hub champion on a daily basis, it’s always slightly comical when people downplay the need for Alt-Football. Alt-Football not only provides an outlet for the players but also for coaching to earn opportunities taking a “promotion” either at a position group or as a coordinator. With the Twelve Alums having a role in this week’s round of games for NFL playoff teams, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface on the ties that the USFL (1.0/2.0), XFL (1.0/2.), European Football League/NFL Europe, FXFL, AAF and the UFL have on the careers of its alumni going forward to the NFL. Regardless of the outcome for any NFL teams throughout the playoffs, odds are a championship team will have some ties to an alt-league whether the NFL likes it or not.
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