Hall of Fame receives artifact from United Football League’s opening weekend

Exhibits Published on : 4/12/2024

After the merging of the United States Football League (USFL) and XFL, a new spring football league called the United Football League (UFL) began play Saturday, March 30.

With four games scheduled over the new league’s opening weekend, one individual stole the spotlight. Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates converted a 64-yard field goal with three seconds left, lifting Michigan to a 18-16 victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks.

This was Bates’ first made field goal since his days at Tomball (Texas) High School, prior to 2018. A former college soccer player at Central Arkansas (2018-19), he played three years of NCAA football at Texas State (2020-21) and Arkansas (2022) as a kickoff specialist.

The last National Football League kicker to make a field goal 64 yards or longer was Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens in 2021, a 66-yarder that set the NFL record. Before Tucker, you would need to travel back to the 2013 season, when Matt Prater scored a 64-yard try for the Denver Broncos.

Despite going undrafted in 2023, Bates has made a name for himself in the upstart spring football league.

The official game ball Bates kicked on his 64-yard field goal has been placed on display in the Hall of Fame’s “Pro Football Today Gallery.”