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Your 2023 USFL (Mach 2.0) Uni Preview & Rundown

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by Phil Hecken and Jimmer Vilk

Greetings and a good Saturday morning to all! I hope everyone has had a good week.

The (new and improved!) baseball season has just begun, the NBA full playoffs start today and the NHL begins its post season on Monday, so today we’ll be talking about football unis. Why? Because today the USFL 2.0 also begins this afternoon and evening, with two games today and another two tomorrow. Let me be the first to say “Congratulations” to the League — I wasn’t sure whether they’d be able to complete their inaugural season last year, and even more surprised they’re back for year two. But good on them!

I’ll also admit I wasn’t the biggest USFL fan last year (though I did end up watching a LOT more games than I thought I would), but it grew on me, and that was in no small part to a pretty decent set of uniforms. If you click on that link, you’ll see last year’s review, which was also co-written by the USFL’s biggest fan, Jimmer Vilk. He joins me again today as we give you the rundown on the USFL’s 2023 season, one in which one-fourth of the league has new uniforms.

OK, so there’s only eight teams — but still, two of them have new uniforms; in fact, there’s a brand NEW team this year, the Memphis Showboats (replacing the Tampa Bay Bandits). For those of you who followed the league last year, you’ll remember the USFL rules are slightly different from the NFL, and this year they’ve tweaked them even further. We’ll run those changes down as well.

Lets begin with the 2023 rules changes. Last year the USFL featured “an electrifying and time-efficient overtime shootout, adding the possibility of 9-point scores with 3-point, 2-point, or 1-point conversion opportunities, allowing double-forward passes, and introducing a “4th-and-12” play as an alternative to rarely successful onside kicks.” Here’s what’s new for 2023:

I’ll let Jimmer give a quick intro, then we’ll get to the unis!

Jim Vilk: Greetings, and welcome to Season Two of the new USFL! Or, if you prefer, welcome to Season Five of the USFL. Nice to see the old league and the new reached some kind of settlement where the history of both are incorporated together now.

Both the 80s USFL and the current one have some things in common. Among them: subtle rule changes from the NFL, and great uniforms. Today we’re focusing on the latter, as two of the eight teams will be decked out in new unis this year.


Pittsburgh Maulers

First, let’s begin with the “Pittsburgh” Maulers, who hopefully one day will return to Pittsburgh. After playing in Birmingham last year along with every other team, they and the “New Jersey” Generals will call Canton, Ohio their home (and yes, I will be there!). Last year’s Maulers wore the purple and orange of the original team, but this year they gave in to Yinzer groupthink and switched to city colors.

Additional photos here:

Those colors are the only thing new about the unis. The helmet, home jersey, road shoulders and sleeves, road numbers, and pants stripes went from purple to black, while the helmet stripe, home shoulders and sleeves, and number outlines went from orange to yellow-gold. And the logo went from purple with orange highlights to black with gold highlights. Facemasks are old-school gray, which is Phil’s favorite thing about this uni.

In a way, I get the color change. After all, purple is a Ravens color and orange is a Browns color. On the other hand, this isn’t the NFL. I had no problem with the original colors, although I am pleasantly surprised to say these are the best black and gold uniforms I’ve seen since 1963!

Phil Hecken: OK, I didn’t like the Maulers uni template last year, particularly the color-blocked yoke, and I still don’t like that. I also don’t particularly like the split-color collar on the black jersey. But I do like the switch to Pittsburgh colors! I’m surprised at the gray pants — I figured for sure they’d be gold — but I don’t hate it at all. I am a little concerned that the very light gray color won’t mesh particularly well with the white “road” jersey, but I will need to see it in action before I pass final judgment. The white over light gray isn’t such a great look for the Seahawks — but maybe it’ll work better with the Maulers.

We’ll cover the rest of the North Division in a sec, but let’s also take a look at the other team with new uniforms, the Memphis Showboats.

Memphis Showboats

Jim: Next we have the Memphis Showboats, who are last year’s Bandits (the team did a Browns-to-Ravens thing where the Bandits name and colors are “on hiatus”). The ‘Boats will be docking at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl along with the “Houston” Gamblers.

Not only are these not your father’s Showboats, they’re not your father’s Showboats uniforms!

In a move I’m fine with (because this was and is a very red-heavy league), Memphis passed on the traditional red and silver, opting for navy blue and yellow-gold instead. Other changes include matte helmets with what looks more like a speedboat than a showboat logo, a helmet stripe that’s wide in the back and tapers down just short of the front, and a secondary smokestack-M logo on the sleeves. Helmets, home jerseys, road shoulders, road sleeve stripes, road sleeve logos and road numbers are blue. Helmet stripe, facemask, home shoulders, home sleeve stripes, number outlines and pants stripes are gold.

Additional photos here:

Now before you call them the Memphis Maulers, more than one team is allowed to have contrasting shoulders. Plus, the Maulers contrast all the way down the sleeve, whereas Memphis doesn’t. It’s a good uniform, although I would prefer the M logo (or the old paddlewheel logo) on the helmet instead of the speedboat. Maybe gold pants, while I’m at it.

Phil: Ouch. Another team with a color contrasting yoke. Not my favorite uni element, but they handled it better than Pittsburgh, since they don’t have the contrast collar. And blue and gold are outstanding colors, so that’s a big plus too. Like the Maulers, I’m surprised the Showboats went with white pants, rather than gold. I get the USFL is trying to go light on “flair,” but either Memphis or Pittsburgh (or both!) should have been given gold pants.

Jim: As for the rest of the league, Phil and I discussed that last year (see link at the top of this page). I’m glad the USFL has managed to roll with the times while taking me with it. I was apprehensive before last season, wondering if maybe the league was better left in the past. It only took a week to realize I was wrong. I’m also extremely glad the USFL has shown restraint in its uniforms and overall presentation…no alts, no whiteouts, no blackouts, no special one-offs, no nonsense. Not even a maker’s mark! Hopefully that never changes. Looking forward to the season, and many more to come!

Phil: Thanks, Jimmer! And now we’ll quickly run down the remaining six teams — Jim stands by his comments from last year (which I’ll reprint here so you don’t have to jump back to last year’s post), but having now seen a full season’s worth of 2022 unis, I’m slightly changing my comments. Here we go:



JV: Not an exact copy of the original uni, and just as easy on the eyes. I honestly don’t know which version I like better. The Lions could learn a thing or two about seamlessly updating a classic look.

PH: My original comments remain: “The helmet is a slight downgrade from the original, as is the uni, but overall it’s still solid. My biggest complaint is the non-matching striping pattern on the jersey sleeves and pants. The maroon/powder/maroon pants stripe is great and the team should have used that on the sleeve and helmet. The fonts could be less squared-off and I wish guys would get their sock stylings more uniform.”


JV: As with all the teams, the numbers could be bigger. The first Generals had *really* visible sleeve numbers, which I quite enjoyed. I do like the new uncluttered logo and the addition of the five stars to the jerseys.

PH: I liked them then, and I still do. I originally identified this as my favorite overall team uni and it’s still up there. Might be bumped to second behind the Breakers, whose unis I really grew to love (not so much the Breakers helmet, but even that looks better in hindsight).


JV: How could they radically change the look of the original league’s most successful franchise? Like this… I was shocked at first, then I quickly realized I like this SO much better. I love the colors and the font and I’m always a sucker for tiled striping.

PH: OK, this actually grew on me a LOT more than I expected. I still think they overdid it with the tiled stripes — especially on the jerseys — but the gold pants really popped with the gold hats, and the colors and font are some of the best in the league.



JV: I don’t dislike them, however they are the biggest disappointment for me. I do not like that blocky font at all. The horse head brings back memories of the CFL’s Baltimore Stallions, which was nice, but I miss the red full horsey.

PH: I had complaints on these last year, and those complaints haven’t changed. As far as overall, they are middle-of-the-pack. (Original comment: “It seems all the USFL teams have bespoke fonts, and the Stallions’ squared-off fonts are a downgrade from the original look. The helmet logo is a slight improvement, but that center stripe (which tapers from fat in front to thin in back) is a disappointment. I’m not a big fan of the fat pants stripe, but I do like the Northwestern striping on the shoulders.”)


JV: The only thing I don’t like is the number font. It’s too squished together, so from a distance I thought the QB was wearing a single digit number (same with the Bandits QB). I really like the pants.

PH: I didn’t like the side panel on the jersey last year, and I still don’t. It looks especially bad when you consider it’s a thin panel, but the pants have a very fat stripe, which leads to a discordant look. All this needs to be a really good uni as to remove that jersey panel.


JV: The original flowing, beautifully-proportioned breaker wave made for one of the best helmets ever (if not THE best). This helmet…well…the light blue wave looks more like a shark fin and the dark blue looks like an automotive headrest. I do like the waves on the sleeves, though.

PH: As I mentioned in 2022, the uni (jersey/pants/socks) was my favorite, but I hated the helmet treatment. I still don’t like it, but most of the time I’m watching a Breakers game, I’m not seeing it from the rear. From the front and sides, it’s solid. One observation — the light gray pants could stand to be a shade or two darker. The contrast between the white jersey and gray pants isn’t really that distinct (I’m thinking the Maulers may have this problem too). But it’s certainly not a deal-breaker as the rest of the uni is top notch!

And there you have it! The new rules and uniforms (plus a look-back at the six returning unis) for the USFL’s second season. The league seems to be on pretty solid footing (legally and financially), so I expect there will be another full season this year and a new one in 2024.

I’ll close with something I usually reserve for September: Are you ready for some football?


Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from ojai67.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.


Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Chris Hickey.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.


Uni Tweet of the Day

This might be the most eagerly-awaited new uni unveiling in a while…fingers crossed they don’t Falcon it up…


And finally...

…that’s it for today. Big thanks for Jimmer for joining me in bringing you this 2023 USFL uni/new rule preview. Hope you enjoyed — and I say this in all honesty: Watch a few USFL games this season…you won’t be disappointed.

Everyone have a great Saturday — enjoy all the 42’s on the diamond today — and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow.



Comments (34)

    Unfortunately for me, that arizona cardinals hype video confirms that they will continue to use their current cardinal head logo, which bugs me to no end with its really poor design execution.

    My first thought for the Cardinals is that the color and finish of the briefcase is what the helmet will be. I also think we’re going to see a “mono desert” uniform being some sort of all tan. Either that or they aren’t going to have a white jersey at all like the Rams dishwater uniforms and their away set is going to be a light tan jersey.

    I’m scared Nike is going to royally F this up.

    Regarding the USFL, I wish the Showboats used the original color palette with updated logos. They look like a fake Toledo…and Toledo always looks like a fake college team.

    “They look like a fake Toledo…and Toledo always looks like a fake college team.”

    HAH! When these unis were announced, I used Toledo (and WVU) as examples of what the Showboats unis reminded me of, in a DM stream with Jimmer.

    Ahhh… now it’s in my head. They do have a bit of a Toledo vibe. I love that they’ve made “showboats” into 2 pretty legit logos, though.

    My suggestion with this review is to include the city with the team name, because I don’t readily know where all these teams are from. Of course it’s just pretend, since they actually all play at the same city, or at least they did last season and this season they have a couple of locations.

    Jimmer and I wanted to do that last season (when all teams were based in Birmingham), but that thought was dismissed since *technically* every team would be the “Birmingham (insert team name here).” There are now four hubs, so I suppose *technically* teams from (or closest to) that hub should be referred to as “(City name) Team.”

    The four hubs are: Detroit, Canton, Memphis and Birmingham. So the “Memphis Showboats” and “Birmingham Stallions” would definitely qualify; “Michigan Panthers” would also work, but with a hub in Canton, it’s hard to justify “Pittsburgh Maulers” even if they’re the closest city. The other 4 teams (Generals, Stars, Breakers and Gamblers) still don’t have a “home” city; perhaps that will change for 2024, but for now, we’re just referring to the teams by their nickname, rather than City/Name.

    They’ll *always* be Boston to me.
    Speaking of which, since these teams are city-specific in name only (for the most part) and there’s no rhyme/reason for picking which got revived (is there?, I’d rather see ‘Boston’ Breakers in the North of course and instead of bringing back the ‘Boats(especially in blue/yellow Mauler-esque duds), keep a team ‘in’ Florida and dust off the Jacksonville Bulls….Unique colors, awesome helmet (no update needed there!).

    I was a New Orleans Breakers fan, so this league chose well.

    Count me in as wanting the Jacksonville Bulls… and bring back those Bandits soon!

    GTGFTU: The Jets and the Flyers at the Spectrum December 1, 1981. Philadelphia 2 Winnipeg 1.
    That was the only season that the Flyers’ Cooperalls had a stripe and Winnipeg’s No. 6, Barry Legge, did not play in the second Jets visit to Philadelphia that season. The second game was a 7-6 shootout in which Willi Lindstrom scored five goals for the victorious Jets.

    Hats off to you, John!
    Not a fan of the Cooperalls – but I Miss The Spectrum.
    Can you (or anyone) ID that FlyGuy? Plenty of obscure options in the 20’s to choose from:
    My favorite-but not my guess- was Ilkka Sinisalo…what a great name.

    I think that Fli-guy is Tom Gorence. He wore number 22, I sit on the Board of Directors with Tom of a charity that supports hockey players. link

    The strange sight of a helmetless player wearing Cooperalls. There were not a lot.

    I agree on the comment about the Pittsburgh Maulers. Understand that black and gold is the Pittsburgh colour scheme, but this is fine among a variety of sports. There is already a black and gold team in Pittsburgh and that is the NFL team. One would think the Maulers would want to distinguish themselves as the distinct USFL brand and not wear the same colours as the other football team.

    I remember the purple for the original Maulers looking dark. They could have gone with a midnight, darker purple trimmed in orange without the orange shoulder yokes and could have been a distinct, good look for them.

    “I remember the purple for the original Maulers looking dark.”

    Yes, it was quite dark: link

    The best thing (IMO) about the 2022 Maulers was the fact that they lightened the purple considerably. link

    I’m pretty sure sentiment was highly against the original Maulers wearing black and gold. Either the owner or the fans (or both) didn’t want a Steelers wannabe team.
    But at least on social media (not a true reflection of the real world, but still a population this league is going after) there was overwhelming demand for city colors. Except from me… but I do like the end result.

    With a couple exceptions, those USFL unis look pretty good.

    And it is so nice to see a jersey that isn’t vandalized with the Nike skid mark.

    In GTGFTS, it looks like a young Harry Caray ran onto the field to shake hands with Joltin’ Joe, lol.

    Based on hunting a pecking, appears to be June 4, 1950. But what was so special about that game, besides Harry Carey’s doppelganger shaking Joltin’ Joe’s hand, I have no clue. Final score was 7-0 at The House that Ruth Built, with Eddie Lopat going the distance for the Yanks over HOF Bob Lemon, who got chased after 4 and a third on the mound.


    Title should be “Mark 2.0” (edition) as opposed to “Mach 2.0” (referring to speed of sound).

    Watching the Stars/Showboats game. Memphis looks better than I anticipated.
    My only two quibbles:
    1) As with all the teams, the numbers could be slightly bigger.
    2) They need to switch logos. Put the smokestack M on the helmet and the speedboat on the sleeves. Do that, and you have a uni worrhy of a chef’s kiss.

    The Stars never looked all that good in the white tops(and I protested when they got re-vamped so drastically from the good ol’ days), but I have a new reason to hate their look…plain white socks!

    I’ve got the Twins/Yankees game on, and I notice the Minnesota jerseys with the 42s don’t have the state patch with the red star.

    Why so many different number typefaces for Pitt? There’s a serifed, outlined number; a non-serifed, outlined number; and a non-serifed, non-outlined number. Why?

    Curious, is anyone really watching these Spring leagues? I can see attending in person, much the same way people attend MiLB because lives sports are really fun even if not serious. But are people like, sitting down on a spring Sunday afternoon with the boys and going all in on the New Jersey Generals or DC Defenders (only 2 teams I know)? I feel like part of what makes specific sports such events is that they have off-seasons in which you end up missing them, and anticipating the next season. I just don’t see the need for more football, I think the NFL season+playoffs is plenty.

    I not only watch the games, I tape them.
    And I can guarantee you enough people watch with me. to make three networks and their affiliates air the games. More people than those who watch Major League Fishing or Cornhole or Drone Racing or the other things I’ve seen on my channel guide. Networks need content. And it’s good content.

    I really like the Showboats new logos but as was suggested above: swithch them from helmet to sleeves and the other way around. As fot the uniforms, there is not one jersey that I would like to own. They all look like designer brand jerseys for fake teams and that is too bad, as the team logos are all very nice.

    Based on the teaser, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals new uniforms include a desert-themed alternate.

Comments are closed.