Why not drop another pro football league into football season?

Getty Images

The creation of the now-defunct AAF and the resurrection of the XFL both seem to have been based on the idea that football is good, and more football is better. But is that really the case?

More specifically, do people really want more football when it’s not football season?

Although the spread of legalized gambling could create a demand for football games on which to bet after traditional football season ends, why not have an alternate professional league that plays games during the months when the NFL and NCAA are playing their games, but on the days when the NFL and NCAA aren’t playing?

Tuesday and Wednesday nights during football season currently are wide open when it comes to big-time football. Why not put alternate professional games on those nights? Some would say that people need a break between Monday and Thursday, when one NFL week ends and the next NFL week begins. Others would say that the demand for non-stop football during football season would outweigh the demand for football after football has ended and people have moved on to watch other sports and/or doing other things.

It’s unclear whether it would work. But football from February through April hasn’t worked, and isn’t working. At some point, someone with several hundred million dollars to burn should resist the temptation to try to own non-football season and simply claim the available TV windows during football season.

23 responses to “Why not drop another pro football league into football season?

  1. No. Just no. I’d rather football stay on air longer than to spend more days watching it for a third of the year.

  2. “…someone with several hundred million dollars to burn should claim the available TV windows during football season.”

    They already did. The NFL has been trying to turn Thursday night football into a thing for 5 or 13 years, depending on when you start counting. Either way, nobody cares. Instead, just give me several hundred million dollars and I guarantee I’ll spend it more wisely.

  3. Mike I don’t think the problem has been failing in April. The problem is the lack of REAL FUNDS. The AAF failed because they got punked. They didn’t have real investor$$. They should’ve waited until they had a real bottom line.
    The XFL will probably work because the owner is a billionaire.

  4. The main reason a lot of us aren’t going to watch another 3 hour game (half being commercials) for teams that we haven’t grown attached too regardless of what season it is.

  5. People who think that a development league will make a profit have to look at other leagues. Everyone wants to point to baseball as the model to use but how much do you see AAA baseball on TV? Not at all. Their stadiums are small and they generate income by playing at places with low over head, busing teams to games and cheap concessions to bring in fans on cheap tickets. They are also funded by the major league teams that are invested on developing ALL their draft picks or young player signings. Not just hoping to find a player or two.

    For an outside league to work it needs to generate a profit. There is more expenses on putting on a football game then any other team sport event. The stadiums are bigger with more overhead with insurance, security and maintenance. You can’t put a league together where all the teams can travel by bus. Players get injured more so you need to replace them and have a much larger medical staff on hand. Everything about football is expensive.

    In football the prime of your career is far shorter than baseball. You aren’t going to get much back on your investment of a development league as it will only produce a handful of players league wide. The NFL won’t ever waste their money on this again. NFL Europe was more about growing the game overseas then it was about developing players. The only position it makes sense for is QB.

    In short minor league baseball doesn’t generate money for the major league affiliate, it generates players. Baseball is a harder sport to master, they have to procure their talent more. It is rare to see a prospect be 21 and starting in the majors.

    Without casual fans you won’t generate enough money to make another league work. Casual fans aren’t going to watch football with bad QB play. AAF was painful to watch as the offenses couldn’t even execute very well.

  6. Part of what makes football and the NFL so great is the anticipation of the coming season. I don’t think most fans would take on another night of football during the season for a minor league.

  7. It has nothing to do with the season, they started off without a long-term business plan. Why, for example, did they start off paying generous salaries (250k/year)? They could have started at 40-50k per year and plenty of athletes would have signed on. Plenty of athletes quit work to go to NFL training camp for far less money.

    The next league needs to take a slower, longer-term approach. It takes time for people to develop passion about anything. I’ll catch a kickoff at 2 am (I’m overseas) if it’s the Bears, because I care. Even though the AAF was selling a decent product, no one really cared… and that has nothing to do with baseball, or golf, or anything else going on at the moment.

  8. NIght games don’t interest me unless they are Friday/Saturday nights.
    I live in the eastern time zone and get up at 4:45 am M-F.

  9. “…that the demand for non-stop football during football season…”

    That’s the problem right there. This idea of a ravenous fan base with an uncontrollable rabid insatiable need for football is a myth. It just is.

    How is it not yet understood that people generally hate Thursday football, and that’s a direct contradiction to the idea of a ravenous insatiable fan base. (People watch Thursday night football bc it’s on, not on bc the public demands it. Take it away and you will not lose one fan).

    No one wants or could handle more football during the week. It’s too much, it’s overload. The reason other leagues fail is bc of this overload. The NFL fan base is not some rabid one going into withdraw convulsions when there is no game on. More NFL itself is already too much, let alone some generic league where you have no real affiliation or care to begin with.

    This is why spring leagues fail. There’s no reason to care, no identification and affiliation. Why would I in Philly even notice, let alone care, let alone spend time… with a Birmingham Thunder vs Orlando Apollos game??? The myth incorrectly postulates I will watch it bc I am ravenous and can’t control myself. Incorrect. That’s the basis of failures of other leagues.

    An NFL minor league would work if they did it like this: The same team name as the parent NFL team, the exact same uniform (this is huge believe it or not), the same basic geographic area. Now you have affiliation and identification and therefore strong interest in Spring football.

    And if you cut the April draft to two days, and had the third be the minor league draft where you had the same type of coverage, analysis, film watching and introduction on the players, a fan would identify them immediately as part of their NFL team.

    My own example is, my team is the Eagles. With the Phillies, the upper minor leagues are in Reading and Allentown (smaller cities but still big enough, with their own identity and not that close to Philly, but close enough when a guy gets called up its a 2 hour drive and he’s in uniform with the big club that night) and they draw well. If those two teams were just independent league teams they wouldn’t draw. There’s a basic geographic unity there. I wouldn’t care if there’s some pro baseball team an hour north of me in Allentown; but bc it’s the real Phillies, I pay attention, and read the stats, catch games if they’re televised down here, and want to know who the guys are who may be the stars of tomorrow down here with the big club real soon.

    Do you get this yet, investors and wanna-be creators of football teams?? Do you get this yet NFL?

    It’s identity and affiliation that you need a for a Spring league, not some myth of the rabid fan base of untold millions nation wide who can’t get enough of anything football and will take anything just bc it is there. THAT is why Spring leagues fail; this idiotic myth.

  10. It’s always amazing to me how people chant “Mark Cuban was right”, yet don’t seem to be aware what he said isn’t limited to the NFL or even football in general.

  11. sylvester000001 is on target.

    Not too long ago the debate swirled (think toilet bowl) around the NFL saturating the market. Your evidence is now present. There is enough football. The corporate mantra that growth at any cost brings ruin to all that aspire to it. Deal with it.

  12. I wouldn’t watch more football during the regular season. Thurs through Mon is enough & as another stated, I (a hard core football fan) typically only watch Thurs night fb if my favorite team is playing (or if it significantly affects my fantasy teams). I have enjoyed watching the AAF for the most part. Tying a league & it’s teams closely to NFL parent teams would certainly increase peoples’ emotional connection to the players. However, I do look fwd to watching & seeing how the XFL works….in the spring.

  13. The XFL should try starting the season in May/June and ending it in August. Give plenty of time to build up anticipation without directly competing with the NFL. You may be right that football is a Fall sport, but I don’t think most people are gonna watch football on Tuesday/Wednesday nights

  14. Some of us don’t know why we have Thursday games at all….

    I personally would prefer to have an off-season league than trying to fill “the season” with more days. I liked the AAF and had the NFL supported it in its negotiations with the NFLPA I think it could have been a good D-league while also giving fans something to watch.

  15. I love the false claim that people are clamoring for football year round. It simply isn’t true. I’ll watch an NHL, NBA, or even a boring MLB game over minor league football. That being said, Sylvester above nailed it when he spoke of affiliation to NFL teams. For me, if the Redskins (uh oh, grab your vapes and run to your safe spaces) had a team in Virginia with the same colors and such, and were directly tied to the big brother team for development reasons, heck yeah I’d watch it. Right now I have no desire to watch a team from Memphis play a team from Salt Lake. I’ll say this though, I did catch some AAF action (I have three man room tv’s) in the background and I didn’t completely hate it. It just seemed as if some games had a 100 fans in the crowd and others, like San Antonio, were more rabid. Hard to drum up excitement if the camera can’t even pan the field due to empty seat embarrassment.

  16. The main problem, developing a fan base. Most fans are intensely loyal to their home team. If you create a separate league without connection to the teams you are rooting for… you already lose 3/4 of your potential sales. You can try calling it a developmental league, where under paid players attempt to show off thier skills. But they already have that, it’s called college football. So any league that is not the NFL will always be viewed as a league of less talented replacement players who are trying to keep playing the game and get paid for it. It’s much like Pepsi clear, or non-alcoholic beer… sure some will like it, but it lacks mass appeal. Does this mean that there is no room for a new league? No. But if they want it to succeed and be profitable it needs several things. First, it has to be connected to the NFL. If you were to create a team that is a exclusive farm team of each NFL team. Like a organized full team practice squad. Where you have a realistic chance of seeing those players end up on your regular season counterparts. To put it simply a full season of preseason games. This will be difficult to manage but it’s not impossible. How could this be successful? First, the NFL could expand its business and increase its profits without actually increasing the length of the regular season for the regular players. Infact you could cut the number of preseason games down. How could this be good for the players? By creating a second league, you are by necessity expanding the rosters of NFL teams creating more opportunities for players who otherwise would not have a chance due to current roster limitations. How would this be good for the union? As long as the league is JOINTLY created… the union could double its dues paying members. Plus the union would be able to collectively bargain the terms of the “apprentice” league. The hard part would be determining the compensation of the players for this league. Until you can determine advertising, television, and attendance revenue.The first 2-3 years would probably have to be at near practice team rates until you can generate a base revenue that you can create a salary cap from. So yes, it can be done. It can be successful. But it would require the NFL, the Players & the NFLPA to come to the table to make it happen.

  17. The USFL was successful in the spring. They got pretty good attendance. The key was players. They got top college players that people knew. Their undoing was trying to compete with the NFL in the fall. If they would have been content with that, they would have been successful.

  18. Spring football is better than a ten-month basketball AND baseball season. Baseball from February to November is a waste when teams lose 75-80 games and still make the playoffs.

  19. I have always wondered why there isn’t professional spring football. It’s by far the most popular sport in America. I see people making comments like we have the scouting combine, pro days, the draft and mini camps but none of that is actual live football games. The USFL may have actually worked if they didn’t make the bonehead decision to try to compete directly with the NFL in the Fall.

    The XFL has to make a splash with signing a big name, whether it be a star college underclassman,like Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence or someone like Kaepernick. If every team had at least 1 player with name recognition, it would go a long way to getting ratings beyond the 1st week.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!