Miss the USFL? It's coming back!
The other day I saw a headline that Jim Fassel took a job as a head coach in something called the United Football League. So I went looking around on the net and found this:
The New USFL - For the Love of the Game!
For the record, the United Football League and the United States Football League are two separate entities.
Here's the thing: the original USFL wasn't that bad of an idea. In fact I've talked to a number of Boston-area folks who have said they really enjoyed going to Breakers games during the one year the team was in Boston.
It was the brainchild of a businessman in Tampa who felt that the NFL was so enormously popular (and this was in the early '80s, mind you) that football fans would support another major professional league as long as it played at a different time of year and kept its costs down by hiring only one or two "big-name" players per team. Unfortunately the other owners didn't stick to the latter condition, which was one of several factors that contributed to the league's crash and burn after just three seasons.
I think if the owners had stuck to the original business model, the USFL might have lasted. It never would have been as successful as the NFL, and would have continually lost players who were signed away by NFL teams, but it could have gone on a while. Keep in mind that the jury in the infamous antitrust suit (that awarded the USFL $1 worth of damages) felt that the NFL did indeed violate antitrust regulations, but that the USFL died out because of its own incompetence.
Today, however, I just don't see this or any other league working. Take the XFL. Granted, a major problem with that league was that Vince McMahon didn't know how to market football as well as he does pro wrestling, but overall I think what really sunk that league was that the football was boring. At the end of the day, pro football is still entertainment, and XFL games weren't very entertaining. There just aren't enough pro-caliber players to stock another league. The NFL already has 32 teams and those teams are always looking for talent; even with all the college football programs out there, there just aren't enough people good enough to compete at that level.
On a final note, it's ironic that when NBC was looking at launching its own league (a movement that ultimately resulted in the XFL) some USFL fans (yes, they do exist, try Googling it) said the new league should call itself the "new" USFL... which is kinda what's happening here.
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