Remember the United States Football League? Well, the short-lived professional football league—which folded in 1986 after Donald Trump drove it into the ground in a foolish attempt to force a merger with the NFL—is back! Yes, the new iteration of the USFL is set to kickoff its first season in more than 35 years on Saturday, April 16.
The relaunched league has eight teams, all of which will play the entirety of their 10-week season in Birmingham, Alabama. Although none of the league’s teams have any direct connection to Wisconsin, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to watch without a rooting interest. After combing through each team’s rosters, we’ve found a total of 13 former Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers who are part of the USFL’s long-awaited return season.
There are former Green Bay return specialists and reserve receivers, a bevy of Badgers standouts, and past Packers practice squad players aplenty. If you’re struggling to decide where your team allegiance lands, maybe this guide to Packers and Badgers on USFL rosters will help. As always, please let know if we missed anyone in the comments.
Aaron Adeoye — Defensive End
The undrafted DE from Southeast Missouri State spent a few months on the Packers’ practice squad last season.
Beniquez Brown — Linebacker
After going undrafted in 2016, Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown signed with the Packers. He was cut after narrowly missing out on one of the team’s final rosters spots coming out of that preseason. Since then, he’s played in the AAF and XFL before being selected by Houston in last month’s USFL draft.
Chris Odom — Defensive End
Over a span of seven games with Green Bay in 2017, Chris Odom tallied six total tackles (three solo and three assisted).
Dominique Martin — Cornerback
Cornerback Dominique Martin spent some time on Green Bay’s practice squad last year, but never made his way onto the team’s actual roster.
New Jersey Generals
J’Mon Moore — Wide Receiver
A 4th round pick by the Packers in 2018, J’Mon Moore managed just two receptions for 15 yards and four kickoff returns for 102 yards (including one return for 37 yards) in his one and only season with Green Bay. Oh, and he also managed two tackles on special teams.
Chris Orr — Linebacker
Linebacker Chris Orr put up gaudy numbers during his senior season with Wisconsin in 2019, including 78 tackles and 11.5 sacks in 14 starts. The Badgers alumnus signed with the Panthers after going undrafted in 2020, but never made the 53-player roster.
Darrius Shepherd — Wide Receiver
Darrius Shepherd is perhaps the most accomplished player (and among the most promising) to appear on this list. In limited time spread between the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons, the wideout and returner had six catches for 47 yards. He also returned 20 kickoffs for a total of 374 yards. Unfortunately, he also had punt return issues and turned at least one should-be touchdown into an Aaron Rodgers interception before being waived by Green Bay on December 1, 2020.
Mike Weber — Running Back
Following an impressive collegiate career with Ohio State, running back Mike Weber was drafted by Dallas in 2019. However, he didn’t crack the Cowboys roster. The following year, Weber joined Green Bay’s practice squad. He was even elevated to the active roster for two games in late 2020, but didn’t play in either of them.
Jon Dietzen — Guard / Tackle
Black Creek, Wisconsin-born blocker Jon Dietzen started a total of 39 games (25 as a guard and 14 as a tackle) on the Badgers’ perennially potent O-line over the course of four seasons between 2016 and 2020.
Bailey Gaither — Wide Receiver
Bailey Gaither, an undrafted wide receiver out of San Jose State, was signed by the Packers as an unrestricted free agent last summer. Though he “retired” during training camp before his career could even officially begin, he’s now returning to professional football as a member of the Pittsburgh Maulers.
Garrett Groshek — Running Back
Wisconsin native Garrett Groshek went from being a walk-on quarterback in Madison to earning a scholarship and serving as Johnathan Taylor’s backup for much of his collegiate career. In those four years in Madison, Groshek managed over 1,800 total yards and eight touchdowns.
Carlo Kemp — Defensive End
Defensive end Carlo Kemp spent part of the 2021 preseason with Green Bay before being cut in late August.
Olive Sagapolu — Defensive Tackle
The former Badgers nose tackle earned All Big Ten Honorable Mention acknowledgement in 2017 before missing much of his senior season in 2018 with a torn ACL. He’ll look to clog holes in the line as a member of a Maulers team with lots of Badgers and Packers connections.