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Murphy says unionization of college football could lead to NFL developmental league

Murphy AP

As college football players at Northwestern attempt to form a union, an NFL CEO who previously served as the Wildcats A.D. thinks a proliferation of unionization could affect pro football in one very specific way.

“[T]he NCAA colleges have served as a great breeding ground for NFL teams over the years,” Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy writes in response to a fan question submitted to Packers.com.  “If the college players unionize, there will be more pressure on the NFL to establish a developmental league.”

Murphy doesn’t explain how the presence of unions at the NCAA level would pressure the league to create a developmental league.  And the connection isn’t immediately clear.

Currently, college football provides the sole developmental program for the NFL, honing players’ skills and forcing the NFL-caliber cream to the top.  It’s possible that Murphy (who is the closest thing the Packers have to an actual owner) and other owners believe that enough colleges would drop football to require the NFL to fill the void with a minor league system.

It’s also possible that the NFL fears college football will attempt to pass along some of the costs of unionized college football, imposing significant fees for the ability to scout players and obtain game film.  At some point, the expenses could become sufficiently significant that the NFL decides to say, “Screw it, we’ll form our own developmental league and compete with college football.”

Or it could be that the NFL will merely talk about forming a developmental league to ensure that college football doesn’t get any ideas about covering the costs of paying players by trying to collect new and sizable revenues from the NFL.

Regardless, if college football programs become legally required to pay players, significant changes will occur.  Given the benefits the NFL receives from the free farm system of college football, significant changes to college football inevitably will impact pro football.

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45 Responses to “Murphy says unionization of college football could lead to NFL developmental league”
  1. aldante66 says: Feb 1, 2014 4:35 PM

    Totally fn unacceptable Murphy. Hey concentrate on how the hell the packers who lets see need: defensive linemen who can rush, Safties who can cover. Tight Ends who can catch and block. Corners that can tackle. And linebackers who can stop the run and cover over the middle.
    Can’t get all that in one draft Murph. Your team is in deep do do.

  2. billsboy88 says: Feb 1, 2014 4:38 PM

    These times they are a changin’…..

    This is something that is bound to happen eventually. The NFL is the only major sports league without some sort of developmental league. It has to happen, but it’s going to be a pretty slow process

  3. nfloracle says: Feb 1, 2014 4:39 PM

    It’ll be a good day when the NCAA’s absurd policy of not paying college football players finally ends. It’s long past time for the colleges and the NCAA to start sharing some of the hundreds of millions of dollars they’re pulling in annually off the hard work of “student athletes.”

    Student-athletes — once an absurd term for whatg where essentially indentured servants who played a game called football for American colleges and universities.

  4. kwjsb says: Feb 1, 2014 4:40 PM

    OK we now want to unionize college football, under title IX those benefits must be there for women field hockey, men’s wrestling and every other sports program.

    What happens when thousands of kids a year who would have gotten a college education will not have the opportunity now because these sports will be axed by the Colleges.

    All because some think that over $270K in bartered benefits for a high school graduate over 4 years is not fair?

    I don’t understand the logic, when with out the sport would these guys even get an education, and remember 90% of these kids will not play professional sports.

    You’re killing opportunity for the 90% to placate the 10%

  5. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Feb 1, 2014 4:41 PM

    The Steelers are starting their own league next year. Don’t be surprised when a bunch of big name players want to join and play real football again (remember when tackling was legal?).

  6. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 1, 2014 4:41 PM

    And it’s a definite fact that there are enough quality football players out there to form a new league. I can’t think of a good reason to be missing out on all that extra football.

  7. JackedUpSports says: Feb 1, 2014 4:44 PM

    cmon rogerrr. its more moneyyyyyy

  8. newjerseygiants says: Feb 1, 2014 4:46 PM

    Only problem with a football developmental league is injuries. Most good prospects would wreck their careers before they get to the NFL. This isn’t baseball after all.

  9. radioactivechimp says: Feb 1, 2014 4:47 PM

    Minor League football would be great for everyone. Considering the NFL and college football’s popularity, I’m sure people would be willing to watch young talented prospects play who could develop into NFL stars. It could also bring football to areas that can’t sustain an NFL team.

  10. seatownballers says: Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM

    Is this change really good?
    Thumbs up yes
    Thumbs down. No

  11. jerlee7 says: Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM

    As a Packers fan, I wish this guy would just keep his mouth shut.

  12. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM

    VIVA LA HOFFA !

  13. hess97 says: Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM

    Tonight is NFL Honors. This is how it SHOULD go; not how it will go.

    MVP- Peyton Manning, Den
    Off POY- Jamaal Charles, KC (only if they don’t also give this to Peyton)
    DPOY- Navorro Bowman, SF
    Coach of the year- Ron Rivera, Car (basically a tie with Andy Reid)
    Off Rookie of the year- Eddie Lacy, GB
    Def Rookie of the year- Kiko Alonso, Buf
    Comeback Player of the year- Thomas Davis, Car

  14. nyyjetsknicks says: Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM

    kwjsb says:
    Feb 1, 2014 4:40 PM
    OK we now want to unionize college football, under title IX those benefits must be there for women field hockey, men’s wrestling and every other sports program.

    What happens when thousands of kids a year who would have gotten a college education will not have the opportunity now because these sports will be axed by the Colleges.

    All because some think that over $270K in bartered benefits for a high school graduate over 4 years is not fair?

    I don’t understand the logic, when with out the sport would these guys even get an education, and remember 90% of these kids will not play professional sports.

    You’re killing opportunity for the 90% to placate the 10%

    _____________

    There’s ways to pay players without colleges writing the checks. Give players the right to sell their name. Let them have autograph signings if there is a demand. Don’t allow boosters to buy autographs. You shouldn’t allow Phil Knight to give some 5 star QB $100k for a signed jersey. Give the players a percentage of their jersey sales. Give the players a percentage of the video game rights.

  15. afcdomination says: Feb 1, 2014 4:54 PM

    I would pretty much kill for a developmental league that takes place during the offseason. it would be freaking awesome. I don’t care how they do it, a farm league, or even just guys who want to play in the league, but I would freaking love it

  16. whitecastleisafoodgroup says: Feb 1, 2014 4:55 PM

    The only place I agree the players should see some cash from are the video games. I know that a ruling just passed that the NCAA can use a players likeliness and name anywhere but that seems like something that can be challenged.

    Just feels odd that game makers and the ever-integral collegian folk can make money off the players that way.

    Be all moral and crap about throwing a kid out of a program for smoking weed or having a beer underage but it’s okay to slap a kid’s picture on a game box and make some money off of them.

  17. afcdomination says: Feb 1, 2014 4:55 PM

    NFL has so many new ideas that get passed so quickly, they want a team in London? why not give us this league instead.

    would LOVE an NFL Minor league. it wouldn’t take the place of the NFL at all, or take away my desire to watch football, much like high school and college don’t hurt my love for football

  18. afcdomination says: Feb 1, 2014 4:58 PM

    “many good prospects would wreck their careers”. what about a league of those who likely won’t make a roster. cut the team roster from 90 back to 75, finally allow 53 active players, and then this frees up even more guys who will want to show what they got

    with so many talented UDFA’s who make it because they got lucky enough to get a chance, you wonder how many more are out there who aren’t getting that chance. lets take that 5th HB from all 32 teams preseason rosters and start them in a farm league. bet one then turns it into an NFL career at the least.

  19. GenXJay says: Feb 1, 2014 5:04 PM

    MM is nothing but an echo pet of Goodell.

  20. djstat says: Feb 1, 2014 5:04 PM

    Not paying college athletes? These “athletes” are compensated with:

    Free tuition – Allows them to pursue a degree for a future after football. Watch ESPN’s magazine piece on bankrupt players. These knuckleheads should plan

    Free room and board – The athletes not getting paid get free housing year round on campus. Includes Apartment/dorm, cable tv, telephone. Free meals as well as training table nutritionist

    Free tutoring – When these guys can’t pass a class, they get free tutoring

    Complimentary apparell including t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweat pants, shorts

    Free medical services – Not for injury but maybe they don’t feel good.

    Free anti biotics and treatment – Physical therepy, equipment etc.

    I guess all of those benefits and services are free of charge?

    Go ahead and unionize and the first thing that happens is athletic scholarships become a thing of the past.

  21. seatownballers says: Feb 1, 2014 5:19 PM

    Nfc>Afc

  22. catskinnerd11r says: Feb 1, 2014 5:27 PM

    My thought is a developmental league would really hurt college football. Why would stud high school players and freshmen in college waste anymore time playing for free?

  23. wholelottaawesome says: Feb 1, 2014 5:28 PM

    Frankly the real point here is that some low life union guy who probably can’t find any other way to pay his bills unless someone with initiative, drive, talent, and work ethic pays him to represent him, has found a small way into stealing millions from players and the institutions that, admittedly make a lot, but have to put up the capital and risk to make this league possible.

    Just like Hollywood, just like airplanes, just like automobiles, just like major sports, everywhere a union goes quality decreases as fast as prices increase.

    Legalized theft plain and simple.

    My solution – beside giving an athlete a FREE EDUCATION you could give them a modest income of say $250-$600 month based on time requirements from the program they are in

    Send the union guys packing.

    One more thing I’ll lay $100 these unions steal from the pension and insurance programs if college kids at the same rate they do teamsters and pipe fitters. Book it.

  24. purpleppleeaters says: Feb 1, 2014 5:43 PM

    Sure, colleges make some good money on football, but that doesn’t go into some fat cat’s wallet. It funds all the other sports that would otherwise not exist without the financial support afforded by the football program. If you pay your football team, you are going to see numerous college sports programs go bye-bye. If you have a stud football prospect, he’ll get his big paycheck soon enough. The best Lacrosse player on your college team will never see a dime for his skills. This all seems very myopic.

  25. vaphinfan says: Feb 1, 2014 5:44 PM

    If money goes to college players it would have to be all sports and for them to agree on it im sure it would have to be more than spending money. If this happens where they going to get the money for their nice gear, stadiums, locker rooms, etc. Will they just jack up college tuition

  26. axespray says: Feb 1, 2014 6:00 PM

    jerlee7 says:
    Feb 1, 2014 4:53 PM
    “As a Packers fan, I wish this guy would just keep his mouth shut.”
    ————————
    Fan Q & A doofus.
    People would whine that he didn’t answer anyone’s questions.

  27. realnflmaster says: Feb 1, 2014 6:03 PM

    They get free education and room. These punk kids needs to shut up and play.

  28. rcali says: Feb 1, 2014 6:10 PM

    Funny how nobody mentions that highschools serve as the “breeding ground” for the colleges. Maybe that means we need a union too for the highschool players who share the same injury risks as college and pro players.

  29. brooklyn40niner says: Feb 1, 2014 6:18 PM

    It’s about time!

    College Football is for hillbilly football fans whose state or city can’t claim a NFL team of their own.

    #collegefootballalwayswas&alwayswillbeinferior

  30. charger383 says: Feb 1, 2014 6:22 PM

    Let them have those little make work jobs they used to allow

  31. mediasloppy says: Feb 1, 2014 6:24 PM

    LoL, Unions were a way into the middle class when back in the day/like now Corporate CEO’s could careless about their employees. High profile Colleges chew these kids and spit them out while raking in millions.

    Everyone puts this into a pay for play Union movement that jumps to conclusions of negativity.

    The NCPA wants:

    1. Minimize college athletes’ brain trauma risks.

    2. Raise the scholarship amount.

    3. Prevent players from being stuck paying sports-related medical expenses.

    4. Increase graduation rates.

    5. Protect educational opportunities for student-athletes in good standing.

    6. Prohibit universities from using a permanent injury suffered during athletics as a reason to reduce/eliminate a scholarship.

    7. Establish and enforce uniform safety guidelines in all sports to help prevent serious injuries and avoidable deaths.

    8. Eliminate restrictions on legitimate employment and players ability to directly benefit from commercial opportunities.

    9. Prohibit the punishment of college athletes that have not committed a violation

    10. Guarantee that college athletes are granted an athletic release from their university if they wish to transfer schools.

    11. Allow college athletes of all sports the ability to transfer schools one time without punishment.

  32. kuythasgout says: Feb 1, 2014 6:37 PM

    The NFL already has a developmental league.

    The Oakland Raiders.

  33. granadafan says: Feb 1, 2014 6:53 PM

    There absolutely needs to be a developmental league. Once eligibility runs out, there aren’t many options for players who are just reaching their athletic prime. Not all players are college material anyways. Some people arguing that injuries would be a concern aren’t thinking this through. These guys need to play to keep their skills and fitness up. Football is so popular that even minor league teams would get good crowds.

  34. musicman495 says: Feb 1, 2014 7:14 PM

    Are all the “experts” here who are complaining about players wanting to be paid even aware that the Northwestern players trying to unionize are NOT EVEN ASKING TO BE PAID? From the Chicago Tribune:

    “The group has a sizable list of demands that includes financial coverage for sports-related medical expenses, placing independent concussion experts on the sidelines during games, establishing an educational trust fund to help former players graduate and ‘due process’ before a coach could strip a player of his scholarship for a rules violation…. There is no push for ‘pay-for-play’ salaries, though.”

    Sounds reasonable to me.

  35. 12brichandfamous says: Feb 1, 2014 7:14 PM

    Give them a small stipend and a W-2 for the tuition, room, board, food, medical, and clothing. Once they start paying taxes on the value of that, their tune will change quickly. It’s a lot of value. But they do not realize that…..

  36. nickster31 says: Feb 1, 2014 7:46 PM

    I have said this about a million times before:

    40 players per team. Each player making $100k. $4 million per team, per season. Have the coordinators as Head Coach, giving them experience and letting other teams be able to see what they can do.
    Players will be in a system they know, so they will know the playbook when they are called up. Vets wont be losing jobs to rookies either.
    At $4 million per team, that is $128 million per year. Play the games from end of February (will have to move the draft up), and play on Friday an Saturday night. Have a 10 week season, and 4 weeks of playoffs. Even have a Junior Super Bowl.
    Charge the networks $250 million each for the season, which is $10 million per week, which comes out to $7.8 million profit per team, NOT counting ticket sales, concessions, programs and things like that.

    Than, tell the NCAA where they can stick it.

  37. giantslor says: Feb 1, 2014 9:34 PM

    I’d rather see the NFL start a rugby league that plays in the off season.

  38. Great Caesar's Ghost says: Feb 1, 2014 9:46 PM

    If there’s an NFL minor league, I bet Isiah Thomas could ruin it.

  39. ratsfoiledagain says: Feb 1, 2014 9:52 PM

    You all blame the NCAA for reaping in millions, billions, etc.

    It’s not their fault. The NCAA’s money is a byproduct of one thing.

    You, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and me, etc.

    We increase the rating, we fill the stadiums, we ‘click’ on the net every day football related stories, stats, bio’s, historical data, etc.

    We argue player A is better than player B because player A had 4 more tackles, one more INT, and two less arrests.

    The NCAA and the NFL make billions because we cannot get enough.

    Don’t believe me? Check out any NCAA site with a message board.

    Check out the smack talk between fans because an 18 year old kid they never met decided to attend university left hand over university right hand.

    These kids want to get paid? Fine, 30% of any monies they receive goes to their reimbursement of their scholarship.

    If they unionize, fine. Kids in a union get 25% of a scholarship. Their union dues can pay for medical/dental, books, tutors, etc. They can get low interest loans from their union in which they can spend the money however they choose.

    If the kids want money from jerseys, fine, schools can stop putting names on the back. Problem solved. They cannot prove the #57 jersey sold is because of them when 40 other players wore it before them.

    Many are getting a free ride. Get that education. It’s more important than the millions 95% of them will never make in the NFL.

  40. hlmatty1 says: Feb 1, 2014 10:07 PM

    to all those who say the union requests are fair, and some are, remember this:

    1. Can’t say you are an employee and then pretend everything you get from your “employer” is not compensation, i.e., taxable to the Feds.

    2. Why should any university set up and ‘educational trust” to help people graduate when they can stay in school and finish up in 4 years like all other students?

    3. How about prohibiting any player into school who can’t read? Or do college work?

    4. if you include all university athletes in union, how long will it be that most benefits will go to the women volleyball team or men’s bowling. Or, that women sue to be able to be in men’s college football? After all, there cannot be discrimination in the “work place”?

  41. miamisaint3255 says: Feb 1, 2014 10:20 PM

    kwjsb says:
    Feb 1, 2014 4:40 PM
    OK we now want to unionize college football, under title IX those benefits must be there for women field hockey, men’s wrestling and every other sports program.

    What happens when thousands of kids a year who would have gotten a college education will not have the opportunity now because these sports will be axed by the Colleges.

    All because some think that over $270K in bartered benefits for a high school graduate over 4 years is not fair?

    I don’t understand the logic, when with out the sport would these guys even get an education, and remember 90% of these kids will not play professional sports.

    You’re killing opportunity for the 90% to placate the 10%

    these college football players at D-1 level are already “professional athletes.” They have a rare type of athletic ability, combined with their honing that skill set over years of training, to be able to fill big stadiums filled with paying customers and help their universities and conferences get huge TV contracts. Just because most will not make NFL rosters does not mean they are not good enough at what they do to get paid for it. But even if you are not going to pay them wages, at least add to their scholarship some extra monies so that the players from poor families are not struggling to afford food during an offseason weekend. But in reality, the players at the top football programs help fill stadiums and get big TV contracts and without these players all that money would not be rolling in. NCAA football is almost like a criminal organization, taking advantage of the very small % of 18 to 21 year olds who are talented and committed enough to work for universities as football players, filling stadiums of 70k to 105k seats and with millions of folks watching on TV.

  42. jbink2585 says: Feb 1, 2014 10:26 PM

    @NFLORACLE– Yes bc I forgot the student athletes share in the same burden of when they graduate they have to pay the 100K+ in students loans back, like most normal students have to. They get a free ride to the college and university of there choose, my math says that 25k/ year they get paid for the four years they are at school.

  43. jbink2585 says: Feb 1, 2014 10:28 PM

    If you don’t like the system, don’t play sports and join the huge club of the student loan paying folk, then you will realize how good you have it.

  44. tomtravis76 says: Feb 1, 2014 10:42 PM

    Hold the draft in mid March, have an nfl development league season (modified), simplified playoff with a championship first week of July( maybe even a July 4 championship game each year). Teams get use out of stadium, teams could create a new brand for their development team, fans would go nuts and baseball would be shaking. Year round football at a high level is what most fans secretly want anyways.

  45. napalmdale says: Feb 3, 2014 9:19 PM

    It’s very simple, it is their name and they have the right to earn money off it It doesn’t matter if all you fans think an education is enough, if someone is willing to pay them more they should have that option.

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