DETROIT – You might not believe it, but the state of Michigan really has won a professional football championship.
It was in 1983 when the Michigan Panthers won the United States Football League title. Now, the team is back and headed to Ford Field for the 2023 season.
This new USFL is related in name only as it acts as a minor league showcase for football players with NFL dreams.
Read: Michigan Panthers to play USFL games at Detroit’s Ford Field in 2023
There are eight teams. Four sharing football fields, like the one at Ford Field and Detroit, will host games because many Detroiters watched last year’s USFL games.
Silver-haired Michigan Panther fans clinging to the Pontiac memory as former Michigan Wolverines legend Anthony Carter caught Bobby Hebert’s pass, running the last 35 yards for a touchdown.
Metro Detroiters have held on to their only Super Bowl-era professional football championship. Forty years later the game looks much different. The Silverdome is long gone. Ford Field is a generation old.
At Ford Field, the USFL rolled out the cheerleaders and the team mascot Thursday (Jan. 26) morning to announce the fledgling league’s next chapter, considering most pro spring football leagues never make it to season two.
Former National Football League fullback and Dallas Cowboys great Daryl “Moose” Johnston oversees the USFL. He told Local 4 why Detroit joined Birmingham, Alabama, Canton, Ohio, and Memphis, Tennessee, as one of the home field choices after playing all its games in Birmingham in 2022.
“Detroit was the one bigger city, large city in the United States that had a good rating for us even though they had the Detroit Pistons,” said Johnston. “They have the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, and that’s who we’re trying to compete against. We’re holding our own against them but this city was the one city that really kind of stood out for us.”
The USFL is perfectly fine with Mayor Mike Duggan, who was happy to welcome more weekend football foot traffic in Detroit.
“You know how this town is about football, and so you got another 10 dates you can come downtown and see really exciting football, 10 more days drawing crowds downtown,” said Duggan.
Now, if you aren’t inclined to go downtown to watch the USFL, we here on Local 4 will have USFL games for you, including the new Michigan Panthers.
The game is a little different and it’s the only one that allows for overhead cameras shooting from behind the defense.
The season will start April 30 on Local 4.