Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 May 2012

The USFL is Back

We have one of these announcements about an attempt to create a new minor league every six months or so, and I think I always link to them, because I still think it's a good idea to have a spring developmental league that plays in smaller markets. This new USFL seems to have everything right. The key phrase from this FAQ on their website might be "Our intention is to allow NFL personnel unfettered access to practices and games." This thing is being built 100 percent as a developmental league. It seems a lot closer to the NBDL than to any of the other failed attempts, although I doubt there will be strict team-to-team affiliation agreements.

Four pieces of advice I would give to the new league:

1) Set a rule that no player can play in the league during the spring of his graduating college class. This allows the NFL to continue its current standard practice when it comes to the draft, signing undrafted free agents, and minicamps. Teams won't have to worry about losing half their players at the beginning of May. For example, in the 2013 debut season, use players who were UFAs and waived late-round picks in 2009-2012, but no players eligible for the 2013 draft. The plan is already for the league to end in June, in time for players to sign with NFL teams and attend training camps to try to make rosters.

2) Pursue a broadcast deal with NFL Network as part of your negotiations with the NFL.

3) To make money off nostalgia, do as much as possible to bring back the names and trademarks of USFL teams in smaller markets. The FAQ says the USFL doesn't want to compete in markets that already have professional sports in the spring, but I don't know if the NBA is really a head-to-head competitor if they wanted to bring back the Oklahoma Outlaws, Memphis Showboats, or those crazy Gunslingers from San Antone.

4) They might as well talk to the UFL people about buying the rights to their more popular teams. They already have fanbases set up and equipment purchased if they want to play with the Omaha Nighthawks and Virginia Destroyers, and those markets don't have MLB or NBA competition.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 May 2012

81 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2013, 1:00pm by Vitamin Supplements and Natural Products

Comments

1
by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 12:11pm

They returned just in time for me to mention them on the last page of my new novel, SANDLOT.

I definitely enjoyed the original USFL and hope this one lasts a bit longer. The offseason remains boring no matter how hard the NFL tries to convince us otherwise.

76
by He hate me (not verified) :: Mon, 06/04/2012 - 5:51pm

Why do none of theses billionares get it . Lets hypetheticly say that most Football fans are basketball fans as well .. the "USFL" season starts during March madness . National champs april 1st . NBA playoffs start end of April and go to June 20th .. Which would leave 1 game left and playoffs . Canadian Football on the other hand Goes from June 13th - Oct 20th .. USFL should mock CFL ..

2
by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 12:23pm

This is wonderful news. I loved the USFL as a kid, and was never bothered by the ostensibly 2nd tier level of talent. I miss spring football so much, and end up babbling to my friends about it every year around this time. Also, the Virginia Destroyers idea is great--I live an hour from where they played, and I'd love to have the opportunity to go to some games (never made it during the UFL days). But what's really important is that some kind of deal is made that gets at least one game a week (preferably more) onto my television. Make it happen, people!

8
by Sifter :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 5:52pm

Yeah who cares about 2nd tier? College football is 2nd tier talent and that is watched in droves despite it being played concurrently with the NFL. A developmental league SHOULD work. Fans are itching for football because it has one of the longest most drawn out offseasons in pro sports, they just need something interesting and relevant (not teams from germany...) to catch their attention.

11
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 7:19pm

College football is watched in droves because each team has a built-in multimillion fan base. There are far, far more people who watch college football because they have connections to the college than people who care about the sport.

Otherwise, seriously, why would anyone watch Middle Upper Tennessee State?

37
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:25am

Major college football is first tier...for college football. And people watch it for a load of reasons outside the skill level: tradition, age-old rivalries, supporting your alma mater, etc. No start-up league will have any of that going for it.

Every start-up league has came along on the assumption that fans really want more football, but every single one has failed. It's time to rethink the assumption that people really are itching for more football.

12
by Sophandros :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 7:39pm

I think a lot of people underestimate the level of talent that was in the USFL. In fact (though there is no way to prove it), I think that several USFL teams could have been competitive in the mid-80s NFL.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

15
by Joseph :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:00pm

I don't know about overall, but since Herschel Walker, Sam Mills & Vaughan Johnson (the two ILB's of the best group of NFL linebackers ever with HOF Rickey Jackson & Pat Swilling), and, iirc, Steve Young all played there, there must have been some decent squads. I'm sure some commenters a few years older than I can mention some other players who had decent NFL careers after a stint in the USFL.
Also, Jim Mora was the coach of that Philadelphia Stars team and brought Mills & Johnson with him to the Saints in the mid-80's.

17
by justanothersteve :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:12pm

Reggie White also played in the USFL.

50
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:26pm

Joe Cribbs, Gary Anderson (chafgers and buccs rb), kelvin bryant all good in usfl. Bryant superstar in usfl bit only ok in nfl.Anderson had 1000 yd seasob in nfl. Cribbs very good with bills and stallions.

G. Zimmerman usfl star. Nfl gerat lineman

Clqrence verdin played in usfl. Jojo townsell good player Ginslingers and Jets

Doug Williams wranglers/outlaws and Redskins super bowl jero

Let's see, bobby hebert food usfl qb and nfl one

Gary clark, richard johnson and some others

62
by dryheat :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 3:53pm

Sean Landetta! Oh yeah, and Doug Flutie.

20
by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:29pm

Young AND Jim Kelly! The first time those two played each other, it was as the QBs of the Los Angeles Express and Houston Gamblers. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv-eiIEXMMw

21
by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 12:34am

Not to knock that crew, but it's hard to beat Andy Russell, Jack Lambert and Jack Ham from the 1975 Steelers. There are probably others, but the Steelers crew is the one I know the best.

24
by Marko :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:39am

Yes, that group comes to mind immediately, as does the 1985 Bears trio of Otis Wilson, Mike Singletary and Wilber Marshall.

29
by Dean :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 8:42am

Not bad, but I'll take Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Brad Van Pelt, Carl Banks, and Gary Reasons.

42
by Intropy :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:19pm

I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he only considers 3-4 lb groups. In that set the Dome Patrol is among the best.

46
by Joseph :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 2:58pm

I was more referencing an NFL Network Top 10 show which stated that the Dome Patrol was the best set of LB's ever. They also were the only set of LB's where the ENTIRE group made the Pro Bowl in the SAME year. (This was also before the era of fan voting for the Pro Bowl--it meant something back then.)

48
by Intropy :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 4:16pm

In 1975 Ham, Lambert, and Russel all made the pro bowl and additionally were all named 1st team All NFL (though in Russel's case only by Pro Football Weekly while the rest were for Chris Hanburger).

51
by Joseph :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 12:01am

OK, I stand corrected. Maybe it was that they were the only NFC group, or the only team with 4 LB's elected to the same Pro Bowl.
BTW, maybe the NFL Network guys elected them the best group of LB's because, iirc from my childhood, the Saints had no other defender worthy of a Pro Bowl berth for most of the Dome Patrol's years (if any of those yrs), whereas the Steelers' LB's had a couple of other HOF'ers on the defense, and several on the offense as well. Those Steeler teams were stacked in a way that is impossible today, and has been impossible since true free agency and a salary cap. The best player on those Saints' teams that wasn't a LB was THE KICKER (Morten Andersen), although RT Stan Brock, QB Bobby Hebert & WR Eric Martin would be in the discussion, as well as RB's Dalton Hilliard & Reuben Mayes.

54
by Intropy :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 2:36am

No argument from me. That was an exceptional lb crew. We all get our preferences. I only wanted to point out the one factual claim. Also, Morten Andersen should be in the HOF.

61
by Joseph :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 1:52pm

I understand. I just wanted to point out why I think that the NFLN guys chose the Dome Patrol as the best--they weren't surrounded by obscene talent at other positions.

22
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:19am

The USFL made my radar because Desmond Howard was a star with the Michigan Panthers before he ended up (sadly) winning with the Packers.

25
by Marko :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:43am

You're thinking of a different star WR from the University of Michigan: Anthony Carter. The USFL was long gone before Desmond Howard turned pro.

39
by Sophandros :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:55am

Joseph, you're preaching to the choir with regards to the Dome Patrol...

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

47
by Joseph :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 3:01pm

Yeah--the "best LB's ever" was more meant for the other commenters.

3
by foolrider :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 2:01pm

Albuquerque Dukes!

4
by TomKelso :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 4:15pm

West:
Portland Breakers
Las Vegas Outlaws
Sacramento Gold
El Paso Gunslingers (or Utah)
Omaha Nighthawks

East:
Birmingham Stallions
Orlando Renegades
Virginia Destroyers
Columbus Stars
Memphis Showboats

could do worse -- and no big Northeastern city meets the rest of the league criteria for a franchise right now -- although I was sorely tempted to put a team in Montreal to bring back the Expos.

10
by Intropy :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 6:41pm

Virginia would be Washington D.C. wouldn't it?

13
by tuluse :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 8:10pm

I think the idea is to put a team in Richmond.

14
by Joe T. :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 9:41pm

The UFL team played in Virginia Beach.

18
by justanothersteve :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:16pm

Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Hampton-Newport News is one of the larger television markets without a football team. It has close to 1.7 million people, plus a large transient population of military. Several NFL players have come from the area including Bruce Smith, Michael Vick, and Percy Harvin.

31
by VBGuy (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:22am

The Virginia Destroyers play at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

That's four hours from D.C., two hours from Richmond, and smack dab in the middle of the largest city in Virginia (there are more people in South Eastern Virginia than Northern Virginia, though NVA has DC and Maryland as well to boost Washington's population much higher than Hampton Roads).

67
by dbostedo :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 1:37pm

Northern Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Alexandria, and Loudon plus any cities they contain) are over 2 million people. And that doesn't include Stafford and Faquier counties, which some would consider to be Northern Virginia.

As near as I can tell, the VA Beach/Norfolk/Hampton area (VA Beach, Suffolk, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Portsmouth and associated) is more like 1.5 million

http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/virginia/popul...

That doesn't change the fact that SW Virginia is a significant TV market... but it does emphasize the difference between the DC metro area and the Norfolk area.

68
by Dean :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 2:25pm

You mean SE Virginia, right?

Roanoke isn't even a significant college town, let alone a major TV market.

71
by Intropy :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 7:54pm

CROATOAN

19
by justanothersteve :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:23pm

No Northeastern city? I don't know the criteria, but places like Rochester NY, Allentown PA, and Hartford CT could probably support teams. In fact, putting a team near ESPN HQ in Connecticut might be good free advertising.

43
by Intropy :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:21pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Steelers!

45
by Dean :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 2:26pm

I know that's where the Pens farm team is, but that's Eagles country. You might even have more Giants fans than Steelers fans there.

72
by Intropy :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 7:55pm

The farm teams in other major sports are not found solely in the regions the associated major teams represent. I don't see why it would be different for football.

73
by NoraDaddy :: Mon, 05/21/2012 - 3:28pm

Bring back the Pottsville Maroons!

5
by Drunkmonkey :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 4:24pm

What about putting a team in Mexico City? This could be a great way to find out if there is some serious potential there.

27
by Dr. Reality Check (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 8:34am

It's really difficult in 2012 to get people excited about extending sports leagues from the USA to Mexico, at least until the drug wars are over.

28
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 8:40am
6
by Theo :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 5:24pm

White text on black backgrounds is a pain on the eyes.
What the USFL, XFL and UFL did well: The XFL created a lot of buzz. Everyone was talking about it well into that year's superbowl. It had some nice new features (they created a leagues image. Although it was an image that raised eyebrows, it DID have a character and stayed consistent to it. XFL had new camera angles, cheerleaders that looked like strippers, He Hate Me.
The UFL did ehm... do some things well. I guess. They had yellow down markers. Wait.
What the USFL, XFL and UFL did bad:
Not keeping score on the website:
http://lasvegaslocos.com/schedule/?act[v]=list
Also, the XFL thought it was a good idea to make the game more injury prone. The UFL had money problems and had restrictions on how to play defense (only 4-3 and one blitzer max IIRC, also not intentional grounding - to make it easier for the QBs.) Vanilla football is bad hmmkay.

7
by tuluse :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 5:50pm

UFL games were not awful to watch.

I think the owners weren't realistic about how long it would it take to become profitable.

9
by tuluse :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 6:38pm

Are AAA baseball teams subsidized by the major league teams or do they turn a profit?

16
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 05/13/2012 - 11:03pm

Minor league teams turn profits, at good margins for their owners, even at the single A level. It's a bit hard to get info but there is a 2008 Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/06/baseball-minors-sacramento-biz-sports-c...) that shows some of the teams were profitable enough to be worth around $30 million and pulled in over $10 million in revenue.

But that is subsidized because the player salaries (and scouting and management) are paid for by the big league clubs, which now a days is probably in the $12 - $20 million range. So without the Bigs paying players the top end minor league teams might be able to break even. Of course you are looking at something like 150 teams on 3 levels.

Trying to translate that to USFL is tricky. Fewer teams could mean higher advertising revenues, especially if they can get an NFL Network contract. Player salaries can probably be estimated. To get an idea I first poked at the NFL minimums.

NFL Base salary chart (Years of service and league year axis)

Year..Rookie..1st......2nd......3rd......4th-6th..7th-9th...10th+
2011 $375,000 $450,000 $525,000 $600,000 $685,000 $810,000 $910,000
2012 $390,000 $465,000 $540,000 $615,000 $700,000 $825,000 $925,000
2013 $405,000 $480,000 $555,000 $630,000 $715,000 $840,000 $940,000
2014 $420,000 $495,000 $570,000 $645,000 $730,000 $855,000 $955,000

I then poked and found those were huge numbers compared to UFL contracts which I found were $40,000 with something like a $5K bonus for being in championship game and another $2K bonus for winning it.

I would assume a USFL player well below an NFL rookie minimum. Probably less than the practice squad minimum (which I think was $92,000 a year least season). But possibly more than what the UFL did. So lets call it like $75,000 per player. That gets you $3.9 million for a 53 man roster. Of course you need to probably double that because of other employer costs (social security, Medicare, insurance, possibly other benefit plans that I'm assuming would be in there) and other employees that will need to be paid. I always hear the "double the salary is the employer cost" for business but can't say that model directly applies to something like this. But you could still expect $4 - $8 million a year for that I would think. I would imagine it's lower than what a minor league teams payroll would be since some of those contracts for players that have been in the majors can be over $300,000 a year from what I've seen, of course you also have guys making like $1K a month on AAA teams. But I trust the Forbes $10-$15 million a year numbers from the 2008 article.

So player costs for a USFL team should be lower than that for a minor league team, and minor league teams being able to have $2+ million a year profits with subsidized player costs of $10-$15 million, a USFL team looks like it might still need to pull in $4 - $7 million more in revenue than a minor league ball club to turn a profit. Again as mentioned that seems possible since you could probably get more advertiser money, and possible TV contracts that most minor league teams don't have.

It's not going to be a high margin thing, but I think it could work.

23
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:23am

It could work if the teams kept the number of team vice-presidents down to a minimum. NFL front offices are some of the most bloated bureaucracies in existence.

26
by Jerry :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 5:38am

I would assume a USFL player would be paid around what the UFL paid. Maybe less if they could get away with it; the UFL hemorrhaged money. (Base pay for Arena Football is $400/game, or $7200 for the 18-game season.)

Minor league baseball payrolls are paid by the major league club. Of course, the big league club has total control of where players play, so it's hard for fans to get too excited about their local team's shot at a minor league title. You'd probably want to look at independent baseball leagues for a better comparison, and it looks like they pay their players about $3000 a season.

The Forbes article mentions that minor league baseball ticket prices are competitive with movie admission. I don't think a minor football league can make that work, and it's not like television is desperate enough to pay premium rights fees for spring football. So it's going to be difficult to make it work financially, and the NFL is unlikely to help - they decided that subsidizing the World League/NFL Europe wasn't worth it. I'd like to see a league like this succeed, but it's going to be an uphill battle.

63
by Jimmy :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 5:00pm

The NFL might have shut down the World League because it wasn't worth $32m per year but that doesn't mean they were right. It produced plenty of NFL starters and some Pro Bowlers, not to mention plenty of depth. It gave guys a chance to work to become better football players at a not unreasonable cost to the NFL (for my mind at least).

64
by tuluse :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 5:16pm

It does seem a little shorted sighted of the owners.

They probably should have actually spent even more money trying to foster highschool or lower level football programs in Germany to build up a grassroots kind of interest.

Of course they might have looked at soccer in the US and decided that doesn't actually work very well.

66
by Jimmy :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 8:37am

Or stop trying to offer Europeans a poor version of the product. We get it on TV, we know NFL football when we see it. The same league with the same schedule but playing in smaller US cities (like is now suggested) would probably have broken even or maybe made some money. Having said that plenty of other people seem willing to start up leagues for the NFL and it doesn't cost them a dime.

75
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/21/2012 - 4:17pm

Well I think the idea is to give Europeans their own version of the product. With local players.

Also, nothing replicates the experiences of actually going to game in person. That's how the AFL stays alive and it's probably lower quality than NFLE was.

74
by Theo :: Mon, 05/21/2012 - 3:59pm

They did a lot of work helping the amateur leagues in the Netherlands and Germany.

30
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:13am

Thanks for doing this research.

36
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:23am

Actually, I think AAA salaries are a lot lower than you think. I found several sources that set the minimum AAA salary for a first-year player at $2150 per month, which is well below what I was thinking they would be. (I thought they'd be closer to $55K; this minimum is $25,800 assuming they get paid for 12 months.) AAA payrolls are probably closer to a tenth of what you were thinking.

I don't think the limiting factor is that the salaries are subsidized, but rather that there are rules that control what can happen to players, which means that most franchises don't want to have a lot of money tied up in their minor-league teams. Minor-league FAs (with six years or more of experience) can make money that approaches the major-league minimum, but AFAIK the only players in the minors with significant salaries are players with major-league contracts who've been sent down or are on rehab assignments. (I'm not sure exactly how salaries in those cases are handled, if the minor-league club has to pay the major-league player on assignment. If so, that could have a significant impact on the club's finances.) On the other hand, players promoted from lower levels would have prorated contracts, so that would offset it a bit.

Even though the minor-league baseball system isn't a great comparison (5 levels of leagues, most assigned to parent clubs), it's enough for a starting point.

41
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 12:01pm

You're correct. Even at AAA, guys make peanuts. It's all about trying to make it to the Majors. We've got a AAA team where I live and they just ran a story on a 30-year-old guy who's been to the bigs a couple times over the years, never stuck, but is still chasing the dream. He's making something like $30K and his wife is outearning him working as an admin assistant. It's not an easy life.

32
by AB (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:43am

This could be pretty good. It's clearly the best time of year for a "second" league.

The NFL could clearly benefit from a developmental league. I'm amazed by how many potentially talented players just drop off the radar because they couldn't make a roster straight out of college. Essentially they are finished at 22 or 23 because there is nowhere else for them to go.

There's a lot of guys, e.g. small school players and late developers, who could benefit from a couple of years' seasoning before trying to break into the big leagues. NFL Europe produced quite a few decent players. I think the existence of a developmental league would improve, in particular, the standard of backup QB play.

However I think it's unrealistic to belive it would replicate the talent levels of the USFL. Scouting nowadays is much more developed, and I don't think there will be many future HoFers who not only go undrafted but don't get rookie free agent contracts either.

33
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:54am

If I were trying to start a development league, I would drop the NFL's 3 year rule. I'm sure there are plenty of 18 year olds who would like to get paid above the table for playing football.

34
by Ab1111 (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:59am

I'm not sure that would be too popular with the NFL, which has a fairly cosy tie-up with the NCAA.

Plus I doubt having kids straight out of high school, even if more talented than undrafted graduates, would create a great developmental league in terms of playing systems etc.

38
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:42am

I don't see why the NFL would care that much. They're cozy with the NCAA because they provide a free development league and hype machine for the NFL. If another organization could do the same thing, I don't see why the NFL would care.

Right now kids out of highschool are playing in college which limits practice time, forces them appear to attend class and do homework, and causes all kinds of other trouble. I don't see how this is a better environment for preparing someone to be a pro football player than actually playing pro football.

49
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 6:17pm

They wouldn't care once the d-league was the source of the majority of their players. Problem is, to start with it wouldn't be and they'd be obliged to keep the NCAA happy.

Also, I'm not sure how many kids would skip college for a d-league. I think most kids have somebody influential in their lives pushing them to get a free college education. At least I hope so, since the odds of making it to the NFL are vanishingly small.

57
by tuluse :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:34am

It wouldn't need to happen often to built up some hype for the league, just one high profile player a year would do it.

Also, I said I would do this if I was running the league, I didn't say it was a good idea for the players.

Edit: One more thing. I don't see why the NFL would be obliged to do anything. They wouldn't be affiliated with the new league, they would still have their 3 year rule. It's not their job to make sure potential players go to college during those 3 years. I'm not sure what the NCAA could do to complain about this.

52
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 12:50am

All you have to do is look at NCAA graduation rates for football (and basketball) players to realize that the "free college education" carrot doesn't mean much to the students or coaches.
There are a lot of kids in college who would easily skip the schooling for a direct shot at playing for pay. If the NFL didn't have a ban on drafting high school students, I'm sure there are plenty of 18 year olds who would show up on the NFL draft boards or tryout camps.

59
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:52am

Just because they don't graduate doesn't mean they're not being pressured to go to college in the first place. Would you tell your kid to take a dead end job over a free college education? Even if he didn't graduate, he'd have some credit hours under his belt when he was done versus zip.

Plus, a football player has WAY more fun on a college campus than he'd have playing for some second-rate developmental league team. Ever read those stories about the NBA d-league? That ain't fun.

53
by Guest789 :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 2:04am

In Canada, kids who want to make it to the NHL have essentially two choices: College/University, or Major-Junior in the CHL, which is the equivalent of this hypothetical development league. The vast, vast majority choose the CHL, so I think it would be fairly popular for American football prospects.

-----

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

55
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 9:35am

I don't have the numbers but I believe the same argument can be made for baseball here in the US too. More players go to the minors instead of college even if they are offered a college scholarship for baseball. Like hockey in Canada, baseball has multiple development paths to the majors.

I do wonder if the NFL might want to change free agency rules. I know with baseball if you draft someone and they go to college you still hold their rights for so many years, this applies to them playing in Japan and a few other leagues too and of course relegating them to the minor leagues. Wonder if the NFL would want to do something similar and work out a deal with the new USFL where they could assign players to it, or if they would want to change drafting to be able to draft younger (coming out of high school) type players and they can hold their rights for X years. It would require a different draft or at least a longer draft.

But I fully agree that a lot of players out of high school would likely choose a paid development league over college.

56
by Dean :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:34am

I don't think the NFL really cares where it's players come from. It cares about the quality of the players being developed, and it cares about the cost IT incurs in developing those players. The NFL might support a developmental league, but it's not going to subsidize it when the NCAA is already doing it for free. The only costs incurred by the NFL are scouting-related, and those wouldn't go away.

58
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:46am

And not only is the NCAA doing it for free, it develops far more players than any developmental league could hope to turn out (well over 100 D1 schools vs maybe 20 developmental league teams plus every college has a bunch of redshirt guys still being coached even though they're not playing) with probably far better coaching than a developmental league could afford.

60
by tuluse :: Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:54am

I don't think the number of players is important.

And again, it's not one or the other, there could be two (or even more) options.

35
by Ab1111 (not verified) :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:03am

Take for example Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. One of those guys will probably catch on with the Eagles, one will get whacked - a decision based on a short training camp, limited preseason action and on projected ability to help on special teams.

Both could benefit from a developmental league - Brown to see if he can translate his talent in production, Polk to prove his fitness. If they played spring 2013 in a developmental league, they might well be #2 ballcarriers in the NFL by autumn next year.

40
by Dean :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:59am

The worry about Polk is that his shoulder may be degenerative. A season in a developmental league can only hurt that - if, of course, the confidential medical information which has been leaked to the press is actually accurate.

44
by fmtemike :: Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:53pm

The west coast is fertile ground. The usual suspects: Portland, Sacramento, Vegas, and the unfl LA...maybe Tuscon?

The northeast is tougher. The Hartford Charter Oaks (CFL) and Providence Steamroller (1920s) nothwithstanding...

You could put a NY team onto Long Island, which hasnt had one since the Jersey Jest decamped. But NY doesnt like second-best. The CFL team played on Randall's Island, which was fun.

WLAF/NFLE was paying about 10K for a 10 game season (more for QBs and a few special cases. You can get away with paying small money if the league is perceived as being developmental....with a shot. NFLE was subsidised by the league, of course, to the tune of $800K-$1m a year per team. Since under the old CBA 60% of profit went to the players anyway, that wasn't so much, and if you could trim your roster before camp, avoid injury settlements, and find one or two guys who played at minimum you were breaking even at worst. A starter, much less a star like Warner, Glover, Waters, Vinatieri, Harrison...was gravy

In the heyday of Arena I know at least one star (but not QB) was getting around $60K with a flat and car thrown in...

65
by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 12:51am

"...maybe Tucson?"

Maybe not. I honestly don't know one way or another if
there would be fan interest in a USFL team here. But you
DO NOT want to play football outdoors here in May and June (even at
night), due to the heat and extreme low humidity.

69
by markus (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 3:48pm

I wish this new league well but the only reason people remember the original USFL is because they spent themselves into bankruptcy signing all those big-name players. They won't want to follow that model. And if there was a real market for a developmental league, the NFL would have just moved NFL Europe over here rather than killing it off completely.

70
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 5:31pm

I was thinking the same thing about the NFL running a d-league. They could advertise it for free on NFL Network and during games, at least some of the business things could likely be handled by existing NFL staff, sponsors could be roped in simply by making that a part of doing business with the NFL... They'd have all kinds of savings over a true start-up operation. They must have looked at that possibility at some point and decided against it.

77
by Randy Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 06/11/2012 - 4:51am

USFL new begin in March 2013 to end,June 2013 with USFL Championship Games. USFL will plan new franchises to 8 teams. it will play each team 14-games schedules.
I never forgot old USFL in 1983-'87. It played 18-game schedule and USFL Championship Games in July. USFL had 18 teams. My faviorte team (1983 Tampa Bay Bandits) and 1984-'85 Houston Gamblers).

USFL Eight Team for 2013 Season
Eastern Conference
-Florida Bandits (Tampa Bay)
-Birmingham Stallions
-Memphis Showboats
-Ohio Greyhounds (Columbus,OH)

Western Conference
-Oklahoma City or Tulsa Outlaws
-Austin (TX) Gamblers or San Antonio Gunslingers
-Utah Cougars (Salt Lake City, UT)
-Los Angeles Stars or Portland Storm/Loggers

Possiblity to added 8-team in 2014 Season
-New Jersey/New York Generals
-Virginia Commanders (Richmond, VA)
-Philadelphia Bell (Home of Franklin Stadium-Univ.of Penn.)
-Michigan Panthers (Detroit)
-Chicago Wind (home of Univ. of Northwestern, Evanston, IL.)
-San Diego Waves
-Arizona Scorpions/Wildfire (Phoenix)
-Las Vegas Heat or Denver Crush (Denver).

USFL and ESPN/ABC/NFL Network TV will agreed contract
in future also game schedule on TV (Thursday,Saturday Night,Sunday Afternoon,and USFL on Monday Night with ESPN).

78
by Tombs (not verified) :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 1:36am

When and where will tryouts be held for the Philadelphia area team

79
by Superfan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2012 - 10:58pm

Bring in Vaughn Dunbar of Indiana, Saints, Jags, Demons. He can still carry the rock at age 40 something.

80
by Superfan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2012 - 11:09pm

I bet Major Harris of West Virginia could still play quarterback if given a chance to get in shape. People would definitley pay to see him play again.

81
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