Everyone has heard the saying “every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end” right? Well that is the bittersweet reality we face today as the USFL announces that the beloved “Bandit Ball” team, the Tampa Bay Bandits, will be rebranding to the Memphis Showboats. The Bandits were brought back last year in the inaugural USFL season, and almost had a shot at the playoffs at the end but ultimately a disappointing season. All coaching staff will stick around through the transition as well as the players that have opted to come back and the free agent signees.
To fully embrace the “new” Memphis Showboats one has to go back and take a look at the “original'' Showboats of the 1980's. The Showboats were awarded to Logan Young in 1983 who ultimately had to sell his controlling interest in the team to William Dunavant who would stay on as team president. Before he sold his stake in the Boats, Logan Young made sure to hire Franklin “Pepper” Rodgers as head coach. The Showboats took future NFL hall of famer Reggie White AKA “the minister of defense” in the USFL 1984 territorial draft. White would go on to play in 36 games for the Boats racking up 23.5 sacks, one safety, and one fumble return for a TD. Another noteworthy player on the Showboats roster was decorated professional wrestler “The Total Package” Lex Luger. The Showboats first season was nothing to write home about even with Reggie Whites amazing play making abilities. Despite being a middle-of-the-road type of team the Showboats crowds were one of the few that actually GREW as the season progressed, which was a bit of a trend in the USFL southern markets.
The USFL hopes to get that market back involved as Memphis is a new hub to go along with Birmingham in the South for the upcoming season, hosting the new Showboats and the Houston Gamblers. The full rebrand also includes new colors (Navy blue and Gold), and a fresh modern logo to signify the leagues commitment to growth and originality. The USFL originally said they wanted 3-4 hubs so this rebrand tells us they are willing to do what it takes to bring their product to a new city. The league has the trademarks for other USFL teams of the past, and the fact that they played in Birmingham all of season 1, the 7 other teams are really fair game to be picked up and moved if the opportunity for another home market comes up. Hopefully the people of Memphis don't mind new colors!
The best choice for the stadium was the Liberty Bowl where the Memphis Tigers play and the original Showboats played back in the 80s. Todd Haley was present at the UCF vs Memphis game on November 5th which shows the Liberty Bowl is the main target, not to mention QB Brady White has been coaching at Memphis in the offseason.
All in all, this is an exciting time for the league, and exciting time for the fans! As for me I have to leave behind the "BanditBall" life for now and that's fine because….. I am "The Captain" going forward!! This has been a killer off-season for the USFL with the HUB partnership, all the free agent signings, and even more coming as we get closer to season 2! Make sure you're following us at the USFLNetwork and get in on the conversation in the USFL official discord channel.
The Bandits have said their last "Let's ride" and now the Showboats are "FULL STEAM AHEAD!!" What do you think about the Showboats? Let us know in the official USFL Discord in the brand new SHOWBOATS channel!