Last year, football fans were given some great news, spring football was going to be back in the form of the USFL. Mr. Jaime Cuadra purchased the rights to the retro league and laid out plans to create a developmental league which would with the NFL instead of against the powerhouse. The plan that was outlined was music to a football fans ears. No more blackhole between the Super Bowl and Labor Day. Yes, it wouldn’t be NFL quality football, but it was going to be football none the less.
Thepigskinreport spoke with one of the new league’s directors, former NFL legendary receiver, Fred Biletnikoff on a few occasions last season, and came away with the thought that while the plan sounded good, it seems like just a bit much to accomplish is a very short span of time. A few months later, it was announced that the start of the league would be pushed back to March 2014.
Around the Super Bowl this year, Mr. Cuadra made the rounds in the media and suggested the new plans for the USFL. While the original plans seemed ambitious, the new ones were very aggressive. Not only would the new USFL be placing teams in 8 cities, but they would be building stadiums and communities around the venues while working with an unnamed developer. Again, looking at the timeline, how this could be achieved in eight separate communities in one year seemed unreasonable.
Thepigskinreport reached out to Mr. Biletnikoff in order to get some clarity on this matter, but emails have not been returned. Football fans were told that an announcement on placement of the teams would be made within a few weeks. 10 weeks later, silence. Thepigskinreport was on the media press release email list, and we’ve received nothing in the last several weeks.
In an interesting turn of events, it appears that the league has taken down it’s website.
Is this just another tease to football fans? Another failed attempt to provide an alternative during the lull in between the NFL regular season? Another failed attempt to re-introduce the league that was very entertaining to watch? It appears that might be the case.
The NFL is the only league which has had commercial success. The original USFL was successful to a point but when they became arrogant and decided they could knock the behemoth off the block, they found out who was king. In recent years, we’ve had the XFL and UFL among others, all failed experiments and monumental wastes of money.
Roger Goodell has stated repeatedly about his desire to take the NFL product global. Instead of placing a franchise in London, why not create a spring/summer developmental league? 10-12 teams around the country with players that NFL teams have the rights to. This helps to create a new talent pool for players that need time on the field as well as creating a new wave of coaching prospects.
The NFL is wildly popular and it has proven that anything it does, people will watch. The league drew record numbers of viewers for this year’s NFL Combine, which is referred to as the underwear olympics. Millions tuned in to watch player lift weights and run 40-yard dashes. According to one site, in cities with NBA teams in the playoffs, more viewers tuned in to watch the NFL Draft than watch their hometown team play an important game.
If the league were to lay their golden hands on a spring football league, people would come out in droves and tune in their televisions. They could broadcast the games on their own television network. For that matter, networks would be falling over themselves for the rights to broadcast games. Each year there are roughly 1,000 players released from rosters at the end of training camp, more than enough to field 10-12 teams. Add in all the current participants from adult amateur leagues around the country, there would be an overabundance of players to fill rosters.
The NFL is missing the boat on a great opportunity. There are millions of football fans wanting to watch football. Hell, millions watched 7-rounds of players being drafted, imagine if there was actual football being played.