The United States Football League (USFL) kicked off its second season with games on Saturday and Sunday, and Darryl “Moose” Johnston, the President of Football Operations, shared his thoughts on the league’s opening weekend in an interview with 3 Man Front on Jox 94.5.
Johnston highlighted the improvements in quarterback performances compared to last year’s opening weekend, with McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Josh Love, and Case Cookus putting on impressive displays. He also mentioned the interesting development of the platoon system among some teams and the challenges in maintaining consistency at the quarterback position.
The Memphis Hub had a strong showing in terms of attendance, and Johnston expressed his satisfaction with the turnout. However, he felt that the defending champions, the Birmingham Stallions, deserved a larger crowd for their opening game. Johnston called for Stallions fans to rally around their team and come out in more significant numbers.
“So we’re excited about the potential there in Birmingham. Truth be told, I want to see the Stallions fans come out in more force. You’ve got your defending champions in the USFL. It was their opening week and I would have liked to have seen, you know, protective stadium filled a little bit more. It was a good turnout, but but I expected more, I really did. So I’d I’d love to see that Stallion fan base really kind of rally around the guys and come out in numbers”
Week Two will be an important test for the USFL, as the league aims to maintain its fan base from the opening weekend without the curiosity factor that boosted attendance and ratings last year. Johnston emphasized the importance of retaining fan interest and loyalty now that the USFL has established its presence and proved its sustainability.
“Because we’re not worried about the curiosity factor anymore. We’re talking about a fan base that’s committed to what we’re doing, the product that we’re putting on television, they know us. There should not be any more curiosity factor. There should not be any questions about whether we’re going to be sustainable. So we’re hoping to see those numbers not deviate as much as we did last year from Week one to Week two.”
The USFL’s depth of talent and the unique quarterback situations of some teams were also discussed. Johnston cautioned against other teams trying to replicate the success of the Birmingham Stallions’ two-quarterback system, as the dynamic between JMar Smith and Alex McGough is specific to their team.
Birmingham fans can look forward to College Colors Night on April 22nd, where the Showboats will face the Stallions. The event includes USFL-themed t-shirts in college colors, an improved fan zone with various activities, and a football double-header in Birmingham.