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Another spring football league in the works

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Maybe failed football leagues provide tax benefits. Or maybe there are simply too many people who are delusional about the power of professional football.

Regardless, another spring football league is in the works, according to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Daily.

A trio of media executives — Michael Lardner, Rex Lardner, and Robert Pollichino — plan to launch the Spring League of American Football; “SLAF” (rule No. 1 for football league creation: come up with a better acronym) hopes to launch by 2018.

The league, if it ever launches, will have teams with players who have a geographic affiliation to the location of each franchise. The founders hope to have further announcements “later this year or early next year.”

Eventually, look for an announcement that the league will go the way of Kramer’s plan to convert his apartment to a series of levels.

Alternative leagues to the NFL simply don’t work. The UFL was the latest league that actually played games before failing. Every league since then — the FXFL, the reincarnated USFL, and MLFB — crapped out before ever kicking off.

There’s simply no appetite in American for pro football that isn’t NFL football. The Arena Football League has limited appeal, and the CFL is a curiosity at best in America. The NFL remains the king of all football leagues with no real alternative even on the radar screen. Instead, wannabe leagues will periodically register a blip or two, and then fail.

Eventually, that could change. The NFL’s obsession with making the game safer could create an opportunity for an Old School Football League (with a better acronym than “OSFL”) that plays the game like it used to be played, with kickoffs and big hits and a UFC-style embrace of the brutality inherent to the game.

UPDATE 12:53 p.m. ET: Apparently, the FXFL played games. Which is sort of like a tree falling in the woods with no other there to hear it make a sound.

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34 Responses to “Another spring football league in the works”
  1. BIGGSHAUN says: Sep 22, 2016 11:37 AM

    These leagues fail for one reason and one reason only: lack of real talent.

    No player with the talent to make it to the NFL will ever say “man, I’m fed up that we can’t play like back in the old days. I’ll take an 99.9% pay cut so I can take cheap shots again.”

    The guys that do play in these leagues are trying to relive some delusional glory-days obsession that they have, with a pipe dream that a NFL team will notice their performance and invite them in.

  2. chris6523 says: Sep 22, 2016 11:43 AM

    A very well written article and one that everyone who thinks the NFL should create a minor league farm system similar to baseball should heed.

  3. Matt from San Diego says: Sep 22, 2016 11:53 AM

    No matter what community you live in, you have a semi-pro team or more. “Real talent” is a subjective term, as if 99.9% of people put the pads on and went out there, they would get absolutely DESTROYED. Physically, mentally, spiritually. Destroyed.

    Football will always exist. The only reason the NFL gets the spotlight is that it has billionaire money behind it, ironically, everyone complains about the billionaires, the rules, the stadiums, the ticket prices.

    WE collectively are the NFL. Without us and our dollars/eyes on the TV(ratings), what do you have? You have… semi-pro.

    There will always be football. But people that complain about the NFL are typical primates who barely climbed down from the tree, complaining about an issue you yourself created and blaming someone else for it.

    Good for this league, it would be beautiful for the game if we helped this succeed. But NO league succeeds without us, or else its just… semi-pro.

  4. audioflint says: Sep 22, 2016 11:54 AM

    Personally, football is football to me. I hope it succeeds. Worse case scenario the talent will be above-college-level talent/below-NFL-level talent. I just like football. Bring it on.

  5. gixrider says: Sep 22, 2016 11:57 AM

    “These leagues fail for one reason and one reason only: lack of real talent.”

    BIGGSHAUN, you are correct sir. There isn’t enough high level talent to go around for ONE league, let alone two. Every NFL team (including the top tier) has a few players right now that really don’t belong in the league, but the coaches are holding on to them until next April which will hopefully bring a fresh infusion of talent. The argument could very easily be made that the league should shrink, instead of eyeing expansion.

  6. xpensivewinos says: Sep 22, 2016 11:58 AM

    I think the only way one of these leagues works (and is perceived as somewhat legit) is the NFL adopts a system that is the equivalent of Triple A baseball, where each team has their own minor league affiliate, with the realization that only a handful of those guys will actually make it to “The Show.”

    Very easy for me to spend other people’s money…

  7. kwjsb says: Sep 22, 2016 12:00 PM

    1) Balance your league from the start, don’t be the USFL where a few teams buy all the talent. Use a salary cap.

    2) Don’t use gimmicks, play real football. I recommend college rules.

    3) Target big college markets, this allows you to pick-up undrafted local fan favorites.

    4) Leave NFL players alone, it only drives up your costs and ticket prices

    5) Insure you business model keeps the ticket pricing where a family of 4 can attend with out skipping 3 mortgage payments

    6) Sell your TV packages cheap, you need the exposure more than you need the money.

    7) Live stream games selling commercial time direct. Why let a network make that income.

  8. winged warrior says: Sep 22, 2016 12:16 PM

    just one major selling point to bring in fans :
    use the original 1920 rule book .
    then you can call it ‘ old school football ‘
    only drawback would be you would need
    a large taxi squad .

  9. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Sep 22, 2016 12:21 PM

    chris6523 says:
    Sep 22, 2016 11:43 AM
    A very well written article and one that everyone who thinks the NFL should create a minor league farm system similar to baseball should heed.
    ===

    Actually the reason the leagues all fail is because of the NFL’s refusal to partner with anyone to form a real minor league. They continue to prop up the NCAA by insisting on using that as their sole source of new players.

    If they would actually finance and support a league for players who are not ready for the NFL but either don’t want to go to college or simply don’t belong there, I think people would watch.

    You wouldn’t watch Leonard Fournette or other stand out players who would rather be getting paid money to risk their health than get “paid” with a free education they will never use play on a Sunday in the spring?

    What else are you going to watch? Baseball?

  10. buckybadger says: Sep 22, 2016 12:25 PM

    Won’t work. The casual fan pretty much only watches the QB and these leagues won’t have enough good QBs to attract said fan. The cost of running a football team is much higher than other sports and the league will never attract the viewers to pay the bills.

  11. buckybadger says: Sep 22, 2016 12:29 PM

    @lukedunphysscienceproject, you missing a boat load of other problems with a minor league in football. For starters you wouldn’t get enough talent from the minor league to justify supporting the team financially. Football players don’t have long careers and a stint in the minors for everyone outside of QBs is just another year of wear and tear on your body.

    The only way a minor league works if they take away college football and if you do that you will see the best athletes go into a different sport in which the can get scholarships. Saw this in boxing in the 1960s (look up Charlie Mohr).

  12. annapterp says: Sep 22, 2016 12:30 PM

    I would definitely watch an “Old School Football League” that uses the NFL rules from 1996.

    If it’s done correctly and grown slowly I think it could work.

  13. BurkieInBoston says: Sep 22, 2016 12:34 PM

    I’m w/audioflint. Twelve months of pro football in 1983 – 1985 was football nirvana. I do realize though that it will be next to impossible to live in that dreamland again.

  14. willyalistentothis says: Sep 22, 2016 12:35 PM

    Jim Fassel is back in business!!!

  15. toolbox12 says: Sep 22, 2016 12:35 PM

    Would need to have:

    wide hash marks

    Spread offenses

    Up tempo

    No illegal contact

    point spreads

    no replays

    limited touch penalties

    resemble college game more than nfl

    Some how create rivalries

  16. firstand4ever says: Sep 22, 2016 12:36 PM

    These leagues fail before they even start with horrendous branding. You’d be better off calling the league a generic name like The Pro Football League.

    The only spring league that could work now is a developmental league run by The NFL. In markets where NFL teams don’t exist. The NFL can experiment with certain markets that they may have interest in expanding to in the future. I don’t know if they’d incorporate London, Canada and Mexico in the spring league but why not.

    The truth is there are plenty of talented football players not in the NFL. A developmental league could be just the place for players, coaches, refs, executives and others to do just that develop.

  17. thehouseofho says: Sep 22, 2016 12:37 PM

    xpensivewinos says:
    Sep 22, 2016 11:58 AM
    I think the only way one of these leagues works (and is perceived as somewhat legit) is the NFL adopts a system that is the equivalent of Triple A baseball, where each team has their own minor league affiliate, with the realization that only a handful of those guys will actually make it to “The Show.”

    Very easy for me to spend other people’s money…

    —–

    That was the idea behind NFL Europe. It still failed. It’s difficult to have a minor league system for football. Football is a very violent sport and each game a player plays, he’s wearing down. Football players probably have the shortest professional lifespan of any of the 4 major US sports, so any time spent playing football after college is wearing a guy down.

    Guys like Warren Moon and Cameron Wake are extremely rare.

  18. toolbox12 says: Sep 22, 2016 12:38 PM

    Also something tells me if this league does get up and running, when the first whistle blows they will know what a catch is. NFL still figuring it out after 100 years.

  19. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Sep 22, 2016 12:44 PM

    buckybadger says:
    Sep 22, 2016 12:29 PM
    Football players don’t have long careers and a stint in the minors for everyone outside of QBs is just another year of wear and tear on your body.

    The only way a minor league works if they take away college football and if you do that you will see the best athletes go into a different sport in which the can get scholarships. Saw this in boxing in the 1960s (look up Charlie Mohr).

    ======

    Why would it be another year of wear and tear on the body? Did you not understand my point? I suggested players could play there INSTEAD of college- the amount of football they play wouldn’t change, just where they play it and for what compensation.

    You wouldn’t need to get rid of college football. Would it look different if the top prospects skipped it for minor league football? Of course. It would be much smaller and, by the way, probably far less corrupt. But kids still get college baseball scholarships, don’t they? And virtually NONE of the top prospects play college baseball.

    Not saying everyone would watch, but if you are telling me that no one would watch a league called NFLS (NFL Spring) owned by the NFL, operated by NFL franchises, in the corresponding NFL cities, then we will have to agree to disagree.

  20. yousoldout714 says: Sep 22, 2016 12:44 PM

    One of these leagues will work with a short season (4-6 games) games that are sped up (timewise less plays less risk of injury) and has an emphasis on offense and quarterback development. THEN and only then would NFL teams be willing to ‘lend’ a practice squad player or 3rd stringer….

    It’s a chance for Roger to expand the brand put a needle in the arm of the NFL fan in March/April….

    but it’s all gotta be backed by the NFL and owners who seem unwilling to spend more $$$ on players…..

    (so ignore everything I typed it will never work….)

  21. elyasm says: Sep 22, 2016 12:49 PM

    I would like to see a league that returns to the old single platoon approach of using the same players for offense and defense. If you come off the field, you’re out of the game.

  22. packmanfan says: Sep 22, 2016 12:52 PM

    More opportunities for even more brain damage.
    Great!
    Just what we needed.

  23. I_Just_Like_Typing_Comments_That_Wont_Get_Published says: Sep 22, 2016 12:55 PM

    I don’t really believe the leagues fail because of lack of real talent.

    I say this because, look at college football. NCAA games are no comparison to the talent on the NFL field. People like to joke about the worst NFL team getting beat by college teams. Its a funny joke and a nice dig, but seriously, the worst NFL team would destroy the best college team and it isn’t even debatable. You can make the same argument but change NCAA to CFL. CFL games are fun to watch.

    99.9% of college players do not make it to the NFL. But the tope 10% of those that don’t are plenty good enough to play an entertaining football game in a lower tier football league. There is no reason the best of the “not NFL caliber” players cant be entertaining.

    The reason leagues like the XFL failed is because they went way too dramatic in being “not the NFL”. We don’t need the coin toss replaced by a “jump ball” style event for possession.

  24. chicagosportsfan11 says: Sep 22, 2016 1:09 PM

    You get the right investors with the $$$$ to first lure the fringe guys then the holdouts then the ball starts rolling.

    I have no allegiance to the NFL, if another league pops up with the talent to keep my attention then I’m sold.

    The key is before it starts to launch some sort of free fantasy football with a chance to win money, then everyone get’s more acquainted with the players.

  25. steveylang says: Sep 22, 2016 1:11 PM

    I think college football basically is the minor leagues for the NFL. There’s not that much development needed for most positions that isn’t already done in college. And for the players who have potential and aren’t quite there yet, there’s the NFL practice squads. That being said…

    How about games between NFL practice squads, in a short 6-game season?

    They could do it in the offseason (maybe in spring), as a way to develop and evaluate players before training camp. Doing it during the season doesn’t make sense, as it would compete for attention against NFL and/or college football.

  26. vonmillertime says: Sep 22, 2016 1:11 PM

    Trump killed the USFL. Just an example of his impressive business “acumen” at work.

  27. dempsey63 says: Sep 22, 2016 1:13 PM

    One mistake virtually all leagues make involves assigning teams in common geographical settings to opposite conferences.

    Jets-Giants. Dolphins-Buccaneers. Raiders-49ers. Yankees-Mets. White Sox-Cubs. You get the idea.

    So, what happens when they meet for the league title? Ratings plummet due to a lack of national appeal. Rather than capitalize on natural divisional rivalries that might sell out six games a year (Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jaguars), the NFL stubbornly adheres to a a counter-intuitive policy that eschews obvious pairings.

  28. sb13blog says: Sep 22, 2016 1:14 PM

    I really don’t think talent level is why these leagues fail. The problem is regardless of when you play you are competing with the NFL and you can’t win that battle. The NFL is in the news year round. Combine in February, free agency in March, draft in late April, OTA’s in June, training camps in August and that’s all in the news. Then of course the games start in September and run until the first week of February.

    And it’s not just the 32 NFL teams you’re competing with, there’s at least 35 to 40 college teams that have 75,000 + seat stadiums packed with rabid fans. There’s college football on practically every night of the week unless the NFL is on.

    I think it’s been proven that for most fans there’s enough football now.

    If you put a team in Birmingham , Alabama and stocked it with Alabama and Auburn players, I guarantee fans in Birmingham would want them to do well but wouldn’t go out and pay to watch it. They would still care a lot more about how the tide and the tigers were recruiting than about watching their old players

  29. SparkyGump says: Sep 22, 2016 1:21 PM

    The NFL sorely needs a “farm” system to develop players, especially quarterbacks. There’s no reason, besides being cheap and greedy, the NFL couldn’t set up a MLB like farm system. Major corporations have research and development departments to make their products better and don’t view them from a purely cost and profit standpoint. The NFL can and should have a minor league system.

  30. packmanfan says: Sep 22, 2016 1:24 PM

    I love it how they have the words “American Football” in the name as if they are afraid of offending the soccer fans in other countries who call their beloved sport football.
    Here in America, when we say football everyone else should know what we mean and there is no reason to be PC about it.

  31. packmanfan says: Sep 22, 2016 3:14 PM

    At last!
    Al Bundy has a chance to make a come back after arena football turned him down!

  32. packmanfan says: Sep 22, 2016 3:15 PM

    Don’t forget.
    We also have the Lingerie League to keep us happy.

  33. expertatnfl says: Sep 22, 2016 3:58 PM

    They don’t need talent. They just need HYPE. If you get enough guys on ESPN drooling over some fake superman, then it will succeed. That’s how the NFL works.

  34. runningoutofboundsisforgringos says: Sep 22, 2016 4:06 PM

    Orlando Goon Squad!!! Our colors will be black and darker black

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