Michigan Panthers on prowl again as members of United Football League

darren cooper
Darren Cooper


  • Spring football is back in Detroit as the Michigan Panthers are one of eight teams in the United Football League (UFL).
  • The UFL was the product of a merger of the United States Football League and XFL with each league retaining four franchises.
  • Michigan is coached by Mike Nolan and is 1-1 heading into Sunday’s home game against Houston.

This is not the old Donald Trump poisoned USFL from the 80s, or the new non-Trump USFL started in 2022, or one of the incarnations of the XFL, it’s not even the first United Football League.

But the good news is spring football is back with the United Football League featuring eight teams, four each from the new XFL and USFL version 2.0. Old school football fans still remember the Panthers and star wide receiver Anthony Carter winning the very first USFL title in 1983.

Football is always a good bet at Michigan Sportsbooks, and that includes the UFL. FanDuel and DraftKings have spreads, totals and moneyline bets on each UFL game (the Panthers are 1-1 against the spread) and future bets on which team will win the UFL title in June.

Meet The Panthers 

The UFL split four former XFL teams into one division and four holdovers from the USFL into another. The Panthers are coached by former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan and play home games at Ford Field.

Easily the biggest star for the Panthers first two games has been kicker Jake Bates, who made a 64-yard field goal in Week 1 to beat the St. Louis Battlehawks and also made a 62-yarder in a loss against Birmingham.

Former Brown University quarterback E.J. Perry is the Panthers starting QB, backed up by Danny Etling. Etling played at LSU and was a rookie with the Patriots when they won Super Bowl LIII.

Spring Fling 

The UFL has adopted many unique rules to differentiate itself from the NFL, but one change that the NFL has adopted is a new kickoff format where players line up 10 yards apart, but can’t move until the ball is kicked.

There are also no real extra points in the UFL. After touchdowns, teams have the option of going for one point (from the 2-yard line), two points (from the 5) or three points (from the 10). Instead of an onside kick, teams can try to retain possession after a 4th and 12 play with the ball from their own 28-yard line. Teams can also try two forward passes on one play. Defensive pass interference is a 15-yard penalty but ‘intentional’ pass interference which is a spot foul.

The Goal of the UFL 

Unlike the USFL of 40 years ago, the UFL isn’t trying to poach NFL players and talent, but has set itself up as a nice spring sports alternative and a place for aspiring players to showcase their talents. The level of play is balanced.

St. Louis has become the signature franchise of the UFL, drawing big crowds to the old TransWorld Dome and is the site of the UFL Championship game June 16. (Remember, St. Louis still feels angry after losing the Cardinals…and Rams). The Birmingham Stallions won the last two titles in the new USFL and is one of just two 2-0 teams left in the UFL.

It’s a good way to get your football fix. The NFL Draft is still three weeks away in Detroit and training camps start in July.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.