With the merger, Daryl Johnston sees strength and depth in the new UFL

Daryl Johnston, UFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations (FOX Sports)
Daryl Johnston, UFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations (FOX Sports)

In a recent interview with KTRS 550 St. Louis radio, Daryl Johnston, UFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, claimed the future of spring football looks brighter because of the merger between the USFL and XFL.

“There were some tough times,” Johnston confirmed. “We went from eight teams in each league, to eight teams in the new league. So obviously, there’s a lot of players that aren’t a part of the football family anymore. There’s a lot of coaches that aren’t a part of the football family anymore.”

Johnston pointed out all the impacts he has seen because of the merger.

“Our support group, video, athletic training, strength and performance, the business side with marketing and ticketing and promotion. There’s just a lot of people that are not going to be a part of this moving forward. And that was the hardest part of this whole process, understanding that was going to be a part of it,” Johnston said.

Johnston pointed out how it was important to maintain focus and put egos aside, and genuinely look at how to solidify spring football, make it sustainable, and make it something that’s going to be here for a long time.

“There’s been a ton of attempts to get this done,” Johnston said. “We’re in a position right now, with this merger, to do something that has been tried for the last four years. And that’s to have a sustainable successful spring football league.”

With the merger, Johnston sees strength and depth in the new UFL.

“Starting off, all that talent in the rosters are much more talented when you talk about a depth standpoint. Our staffs have gotten better in my opinion as well. You know, we really did kind of take the best of the best and combine those best practices that each league brought to the table and we really feel that we’ve come up with something very unique when we talk about spring football,” Johnston said.

The merger is also beginning to pay off in an increased level of trust. Johnston feels that a building of trust has occurred, and the success that the USFL and XFL had in finishing their seasons has done wonders for the reputation of spring football.

“What I have seen is the development of trust between owners, coaches, players, and agents,” Johnston explained. “In the beginning, we had to reach out and call them and try to convince them and sell them on what we were envisioning in regards to spring football. I think that there was a lot of hesitancy because there had been attempts that failed, and it kind of leaves these guys in a very difficult position. I think the fact that the USFL was able to finish two seasons and crowned champions, and the XFL was able to finish their inaugural season and crown a champion, I think that trust has been solidified with the agents that represent our players with some of the coaches that we may have to reach out to and inquire as to whether they would be interested in joining us.”

Johnston pointed out how things had changed.

“What we’re seeing now is people are calling us, and agents that we had to reach out to and call are now calling us to get the players back in,” Johnston revealed. “Players that have three or four years in the NFL and want to kind of rewrite that narrative, the way that they’re being viewed by front office’s in the NFL, they want an opportunity to come into the UFL and change that narrative.”

The 2024 UFL season kicks off on Saturday March 30 with double-header broadcast on FOX, the Birmingham Stallions at the Arlington Renegades at 1PM (ET) and the St. Louis Battlehawks at the Michigan Panthers 4PM (ET).

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