On Tuesday, some UFL players balked at an intention by UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue to refuse to allow UFL players to leave for the NFL after the UFL season ends, absent payment of a $150,000 “transfer fee.”
After we posted a story on the item, UFL players nearly treated Huyghue like Brad Childress, threatening to walk off the practice field and/or boycott this weekend’s games.
On Wednesday, Huyghue saw the light. And he’s now acting as if he had seen the light all along.
“From Day One, our policy has been the same — once a team’s season ends, any player is free to go to the NFL,” Huyghue told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We want our players to go to the NFL. I’m not sure where that rumor on the Internet started, but there’s no truth to it.”
The “rumor” isn’t a rumor. Multiple sources have confirmed that, indeed, the UFL intended to collect the $150,000 per player in an effort to help the fledgling league earn money. And as word got around, the players got mad.
Based on comments from multiple players, it sure looks like the “rumor” is indeed the truth. “If he says so and puts it down on paper, fine,” Las Vegas Locomotives linebacker Brandon Moore told the Review-Journal. “If not, it’s like we have been taken advantage of.”
It’s a great point, given that the UFL player contract says that the transfer fee applies through February 2011.
Tight end Adam Bergen was more pragmatic about a resolution. “I’m not worried,” Bergen told the Review-Journal. “If they don’t [waive the fee], there won’t be a league because nobody will want to play [in the UFL].”
Former NFL kicker Steven Hauschka put it best. “I think it would be stupid if they didn’t let guys go,” Hauschka told the Review-Journal. “My understanding is that they’ll let guys leave as soon as the season’s over. But we all signed that crazy contract, and when we signed, we knew it could be an issue.”
Former Giants head coach Jim Fassel, who recently has been beating the bushes about getting back to the NFL, has assumed a pro-UFL stance. “I’m trying to get us ready to play a game Saturday,” Fassel said, per the Review-Journal. “But I believe this will all get worked out once the season ends. I think the league has to protect its investment. It spends a lot of money on these players.”
Right, but the players are only playing for roughly $50,000 per year because they believe that it improves their chances of playing in the NFL. Just as Fassel is coaching in the UFL in an effort to get back to the NFL. Though the chances are slim, the hope carries great value. And if the UFL takes away that hope, plenty of guys will choose another path for trying to get back to the NFL.