Fox Sports, With $150M Commitment to USFL, Plans ‘Glowing’ Football

  • Illuminated ball could help TV viewers find the ball under goal-line scrums.
  • Fox was panned for its “glowing” hockey puck on NHL telecasts in the ‘90s.
Copy Link
URL copied to clipboard

Fox owns the rebooted USFL through USFL HoldCo, LLC. and is committing $150 million over three years.

Despite a threatened lawsuit, the rebooted USFL is pushing ahead with technological innovations such as a virtual first-down line and a sensor in every football. 

But the new spring football league’s biggest innovation is still to come. Are you ready for a “glowing” football?

The league will experiment with a football that “glows” when it reaches the goal line, according to Daryl Johnston, the ex-Dallas Cowboys fullback turned executive vice president of football operations for the USFL.

During game telecasts, viewers often can’t see the ball under the pile of bodies at the goal line, noted Johnston during a Monday appearance on Fox News. An illuminated ball could help.  

“That’s something we’re hoping to have this season,” Johnston said.

Fox has been here before. From 1996-1998, the network experimented with a “glowing puck” on NHL telecasts. 

The system (officially dubbed “FoxTrax”) was widely panned, particularly by hockey purists in Canada. Others thought the idea was ahead of its time.

Given the positive reaction to the USFL getting rid of old-fashioned first-down chains, a glowing football could get a warmer welcome this time.

The NFL also employs chips in its balls to generate Next Gen Stats

The original USFL (which operated from 1983-1985) has filed a lawsuit to stop USFL 2.0, according to ProFootballTalk

Larry Csonka, ex-GM of the Jacksonville Bulls, ripped Fox’s claim the defunct league’s brands don’t have value after 37 years.

“It boils down to this. If the USFL doesn’t have any value, why did FOX want it?” asked Csonka. 

But the rebooted USFL dismissed the original league’s claims as “frivolous.”

“The new USFL has registered trademarks with priority back to 2011 and announced the new league over ten months ago,” said counsel David Bernstein in a statement.

“This delayed, eleventh-hour attempt to halt the launch of the exciting new USFL is utterly frivolous. The new USFL is excited for its new season to begin.” 

The new USFL’s regular season will kick off April 16 and continue through June 19. 

Both Fox and NBC Sports will televise games this season, including a simulcast of the opening game.

URL copied to clipboard