Back in the ’80s, Houstonians were in pro football bliss, with the Houston Oilers and bruising future Hall of Fame running back/human train Earl Campbell, and the high-flying run-and-shoot Houston Gamblers, led by Jim Kelly (also a future Hall of Famer).
Now, fans of that super-short Gamblers era (three seasons) can don their red and black jerseys, as the Gamblers are back as part of a return of the United States Football League. The USFL announced the Gamblers and seven other teams across the U.S. will kick off a new season in April 2022.
USFL organizers plan to launch the league in the spring that promises “high-quality, innovative professional football to fans,” per an announcement.
No word yet on where the Gamblers will play home games, but ABC13 notes that published reports point to all first-season games being played in Birmingham, Alabama. Broadcast partners currently considered are USA Network, Fox Sports, Fox, and NBC.
Other teams in the USFL are the New Jersey Gamblers, Michigan Panthers, Philadelphia Stars, Pittsburgh Maulers, Birmingham Stallions, New Orleans Breakers, and Tampa Bay Bandits.
Notably, the Gamblers are also an old legacy team from the 1983-1986 era; Former President Donald Trump owned the team and pushed for the USFL to compete with the NFL — a move that ultimately destroyed the USFL.
Though it was ill-fated, the USFL was known for innovation, pushing the NFL to draft underclassmen, pay bigger salaries, and create a real free agency model.
The Gamblers will join the Houston Roughnecks (which will play in 2022) as the other alternative football team outside the NFL Houston Texans.