Prediction: Football Gets Even Bigger in 2016

Nov 29, 2015

The staff of Fortune recently assembled its predictions for 2016. Here’s one of our forecasts.

Remember the USFL? A short-lived competitor to the NFL, the fledgling league lasted three seasons and attracted talent like quarterback Doug Flutie. It also attracted Donald Trump, whom some blame for the league’s death; he purchased a team and brought attention to the league, but soon targeted the NFL as an enemy and brought it to court. Now Jim Bailey has acquired the rights and is raising money to bring the USFL back—not as a competitor to the NFL, but a feeder.

With executive stints at the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens on his resume, Bailey could be the right man for the job. Think of the new USFL as a D-league for the NFL—if Bailey gets the capital he’s seeking.

Meanwhile, with the NFL still muddling through a string of scandals and legal failures (and in a season on track to have more penalty flags than ever before), look for a rise in interest in alternative football options abroad, like the new China American Football league, in which NFL veteran turned ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski is a principal investor.

This article is part of the 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball, a package of 33 predictions about business, politics and the economy by the writers and editors of Fortune. To see the entire package, click here.

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