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Former USFL Exec Steve Ehrhart Clarifies League Name & Logo Statement

Earlier this month, The Spring League’s CEO Brian Woods announced that – along with FOX Sports – the group plans to bring back the USFL in 2022.

Since January, trademarks for the 1980s spring league had been acquired by Woods and TSL, sparking questions about their intentions. Now that we know what the plan is, some of the former executives from the original USFL have spoken out, most notably Steve Ehrhart.

Ehrhart was the league’s final executive director, and was in charge of the Memphis Showboats, who famously had Hall of Fame DE Reggie White among their roster.

Since then Ehrhart has gone on to be the executive director of the Autozone Liberty Bowl, and currently working on an event to recognize recently enshrined QB Peyton Manning.

He’s taken time away from that to speak out about the new version of his old league, creating some controversy in the process. In a recent article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr Ehrhart had this to say about the recent announcement:

“I was surprised when I heard about it this morning. I want to dig into it and see who they’re claiming they acquired these rights [to the name] from. Because it didn’t come from any legitimate source.”

Steve Ehrhart

The site for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has The Spring League listed as the owner/applicant for every live – and even 2 dead – USFL trademarks. So Ehrhart’s begged the question, what was missing?

I reached out to Mr Ehrhart over this past weekend, and thankfully was able to speak to the football legend about his previous statement.

The first thing he told me was that he didn’t want to be antagonistic, nor did he want to get involved in a legal battle over who owns the IP. His message was clear:

Protect the legacy.

“After we heard the announcement, I started getting calls from former team presidents, and guys like Carl Peterson (Former KC Chiefs exec), who put in the blood, sweat, tears, and fortunes that were poured into the USFL, wondering what was going on, but nobody had contacted us. There’s a lot more to starting a league than having a lawyer get the trademarks. You’ve gotta have the good will of the people, and the right people on board if you want it to succeed. Were trying to protect the legacy.”

Steve Ehrhart

He also mentioned the foils and follies of recent spring football leagues, and how they tried to go into starting up, but also never considered what it really took be ensure success.

“Talk to Vince McMahon, talk to the Ebersoles, they went into it with hundreds of millions of dollars and the best intentions, but we see how that ended. There’s a strong legacy out here for the USFL. We’ve been around for 40 some-od years, still doing merchandising, and all of that. I just think it would help him [Brian Woods] to embrace that. Get all the ammunition he can to be successful. We’d just like a call to see how we can get started again, and how we can work together.”

Steve Ehrhart

It may have come across like he was challenging the legality of using the USFL name and logos, but in our conversation he said it wasn’t that. It’s about the history that comes with the name. And they’re open to working with him, if he wants to.

Woods didn’t comment on what Ehrhart’s message was when I passed it on to him, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a working relationship as this thing progresses.

Over this past week more teams names and trademarks have been snatched up and created with cities like Austin, Orlando, Boston, Memphis. They even finally grabbed the Jacksonville Bulls TM.

However this works out between the new USFL and the old guard, we hope the league succeeds. Despite the results of the AAF and the newer XFL, fans showed they want spring football. And it’s been beneficial to the players.

Ehrhart has a point. It’s rarely a bad idea to learn from the experience of others. And preserving the legacy that the guys from the 80s version should be just as important.

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Content creator, that lives in Virginia Beach. Father of 3 amazing girls, lover of all things football. Trying to add my voice to the mix. #ForTheLoveOfFootball #SilenceIsNotAnOption



  1. Dude

    June 9, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Good job Josh. I want the USFL back, but I don’t want some minor league AA level football that is living on a prayer. I think if the USFL is a single owned entity, it isn’t going to do much. I’ll give them a shot, but maybe the original idea of multiple owners with a hard salary cap might work, but again they’d have to be creative in getting quality players, or even ex-NFL players in their 30s who are at the end of their elite NFL playing days to stick it out another 3-4 years in the USFL.

    Without some billionaire(s) backing the league, there’s no way you can compete with NFL paychecks, of course if Jeff Bezos was tired of waiting for an NFL team to buy, he could buy the USFL and easily afford the big salaries of NFL starters and recruit them to the USFL. He could also buy up the top 50 college players every year. Then he could broadcast games on Amazon Prime or sell some of the USFL TV rights since you’d have NFL big name players. Good thing for the NFL I’m not Jeff Bezos, because I’d be tempted to do it.

  2. Charlie Anderson

    June 29, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I love Steve Ehrhart, and I think Brian Woods, like a few others before him, are doing nothing more than trying to capitalize on the nostalgia felt for the 1980’s USFL. In Woods case he’s done nothing more than pissed away some money on trademarks and issued a press release. He’s not the first to do either.

    That said, all the 1980’s USFL entities are dead, and any rights it may have had with respect to its names and marks are in the public domain – either because the entity owning them is defunct, or due to failure to legally defend use by others over the past decades. Ehrhart and others can cry about Woods (and those who tried it before him several years ago) defaming David Dixon’s creation. But (a) Dixon’s USFL wasn’t the first league to use the name, (b) while Ehrhart is seen as the custodian of the league’s legacy, he’s not the legal custodian of anything anymore, and (c) sadly, any schmuck with $750 to register a trademark can snag a mark if it’s not renewed.

  3. TheDude (different one)

    January 16, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    Ehrhart is just trying to pretend that he’s still relevant, and he got caught lying about just how irrelevant he really is. First claiming that he had any rights to the name/images and that Woods’ use was not legitimately acquired. Then the statement that “We’ve been around for 40 some-odd years” is patently false. For starters, it was never his company to begin with, he was merely an officer of it (when it failed). Second, the company had not been a league for 35 years, and has not even existed as a company for the last 30+ years, being dissolved in 1990. His great claim to “being around for 40 years” is that he has a bank account in the USFL’s name.

  4. Januquarius

    January 18, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    It would not be a bad idea if the current USFL execs reached out to former USFL players and execs as a way of celebrating the legacy of the league and using it for promotion. I see it as an act of good will. If Brian Woods and Fox sports was smart they would bring in former players and execs as an act of celebration. Also, you best believe those who are a part of the present could learn a lot from those of the past.

    I don’t see the new USFL as being anything like the old version but for the fans it would be nice to see the past uniting with the present. Truly capitalize on the past and the nostalgia. Many people are into the league as a way of marrying the past and the present. If the new USFL is smart they’ll capitalize on that good will.

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