When the United States Football League announced plans to begin play in the fall in 1986, it was the end of spring football in the United States. When the USFL collapsed that same year, it also marked the end of a rival league to the National Football League. That changed in the spring of 1991.
The spring of 1991 brought a new league to the world, the World League of American Football. The WLAF was an NFL backed venture that was created to be a "developmental" league for the NFL as well as help spread football throughout the world. When the WLAF first kicked off, there were six teams in the US, one in Canada, and three in Europe. Some cities like Birmingham and San Antonio had not had football since the failed USFL.
The original WLAF had a great fan following in Europe and in select cities like Birmingham, but a lack of fan support in the States led to the eventual demise of the WLAF. Some saw the league as less than minor league and somewhat of a joke due to a lack of stars. True, but many of these players were playing their hearts out to get one last chance in the NFL. This was one of the ideas of the World League. NFL teams would send players the the WLAF to get game experience. At first, this did not happen too much, now in the new World League all thirty NFL teams have players on the rosters of the six WL teams.
The original WLAF was not without support. Like the USFL, the WLAF had a TV deal. The USA Network broadcast a game once a week usually on Monday or Thursday night. ABC also had a weekly game on Sunday. Despite the TV deals and the loyal fans in some cities, the WLAF failed. After the 1992 season, the NFL pulled the plug on the league. Three years later, the new World League opened up with six teams in Europe and more support from the NFL.
This page is dedicated to the original World League of American Football and the fans that miss spring football in the US.
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