ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – This spring the United States Football League will ride again.
After a 36-year hiatus, the USFL will return. Known as a potential rival to the National Football League (NFL) in the 1980’s, the USFL closed its doors after three seasons in 1986. But, not before making an ever-lasting mark on the game. Major names played in the league, including Heisman Trophy Winner Herschel Walker, Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly, Hall of Famer Sam Mills and many more.
With eight total teams making up the league this spring in 2022, team cities and game sites will be announced in the coming months. Fox Sports will be the television home of the league.
A local player made Twin Tiers Sports history as part of the USFL. Horseheads native George Gilbert won two world championships with the Stars franchise before the league came to a closing halt due to financial issues. Gilbert, who also tried out with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, was a standout at Horseheads High School and at The University of Tulsa before his pro career as an offensive lineman.
Gilbert says with recent spring leagues going under like The Alliance of American Football League, the new USFL will provide a shot for many to live their football dream.
“There’s hundreds of guys out there looking and just a step away from making an NFL team but there’s just not enough positions for them,” Gilbert said. “With this opportunity coming up with the USFL it’s able to give guys more hope and opportunity to get to that next level.”
Gilbert, who retired in 2016 from teaching and as the defensive coordinator from Horseheads High School football, also praised the local Blue Raiders. In the program’s first year in their new stadium, Gilbert says they have much to be proud of. Horseheads won a regular season Class A title but ultimately fell to Union Endicott in the Section IV Championship, 34-0, last Friday.
“Regardless of the outcome of that game, they had an awesome season,” Gilbert added. A season that Gilbert knows can be built off of in the years to come.
“It’s always tough for the seniors, with their last game,” Gilbert said. “They just love playing for them (Horseheads), with that type of facility, the future is so bright right now.”