Feb. 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA: The NFL logo on display near the red carpet prior to the Super Bowl XLVII NFL Honors award show at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL minor league: why football needs another option


Remember back in April when your favorite players got drafted or signed to this or that team? There is the initial excitement of their dreams being realized, finally becoming an NFL player, but four months later they on the street, hoping that another team will call but realistically getting the tires rolling on their backup plans. These guys have, or had, hopes of making it in the NFL. And many are very talented. They just need the chance. Unfortunately, the competition in the NFL is just that good. So why do we have so many players with so few jobs? It seems so wasteful. That is why, I believe, there is a need for another league.

That is not to say I don’t love the NFL. There is no other professional American football league that has come close to matching a fourth of the success the NFL has. And nothing, besides arguably college football, has advanced the sport nearly as far as the NFL has. Football is fun to watch but it can be so much better watching NFL teams play. There is a certain perfection that is required of every NFL player that makes watching them such a sight to behold. Incredible acts of athleticism, lightening quick reflexes, smart decisions made on the fly. It’s the most intense chess game ever.

But, from this league, 928 non-practice squad members are cut every year, many never returning to the league. Sure, there are injuries, retirements, and cuts that happen to give these guys another chance, but not nearly enough to justify the sheer amount of players without jobs. There is only one answer to this problem: another league. Developmental leagues have never made it because of the sheer success and popularity of the NFL. But some great players came from developmental or non-NFL leagues, such as Reggie White, Steve Young, and Kurt Warner. These guys, and many more, have such a historical impact on the game. They give us the underdog to root for, the guy that comes from nothing and goes on to do great things. Without these leagues, we lose the chance to see these guys on the field again, where they still have so much left to give.

The UFL is the last of the developmental leagues left, and it cut short it’s season last year and has yet to announce any sort of tentative re-opening date. To be honest, it never really stood a chance. The USFL had a better fighting chance, and even that had a hard time gaining traction. And please, don’t mention the XFL. Vince McMahon and NBC couldn’t be happier to be rid of that failed experiment.

The NFL needs to do something about the massive layoff that happens every year. Sure, it would be easy to say extend the games and increase the roster size. But, even though NFL Europe (later NFL Europa) was not as successful as they intended, the NFL needs to sanction another league to develop players who either are not quite ready or haven’t had a chance to prove what they have left. If it works in the NBA and the MLB so well, why can’t it work for the NFL?

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Tags: NFL Roster Cuts

  • keltypack

    Your example of Steve Young isn’t exactly true. Young got such a lucrative deal with the USFL that he passed on the NFL. He didn’t go there for development.

  • james

    maybe they could start a league called the A.F.O american football organization and player’s who need to develop or just haven’t hit their stride or player’s who have had a few wrong turn’s could join, like you said too many talented player’s sit out every year and lose valuable time and lose the edge they have.