I'm thinking of three guys. One guy has two NFL MVP's, a Super Bowl ring, and MVP, and is very close to assuring himself in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Another guy helped turn a franchise from a laughing stock to a Super Bowl team, and recently signed a five year extension worth $42.5 million.
Finally, a guy who has played in five Super Bowls, winning his most recent four, and is known as one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history.
Know who I am talking about? Many NFL fans will know the first guy is Kurt Warner, second is Jake Delhomme, and the third is Adam Vinatieri. All of these guys have at one point been near, or at, the top of the NFL in their respective position, and have had tremendous success in the NFL.
What some people may not know, is that these three guys have the NFL Europe league to thank for getting an opportunity to play in the NFL.
Kurt Warner was undrafted out of college, and after three years in the AFL, was given a chance to play in the NFL Europe league. Jake Delhomme actually backed up Kurt Warner when the two played for the Amsterdam Admirals, and was later sent to another team where he would split time with another quarterback (Pat Barnes).
Vinatieri also played for the Admirals (when the league was named the World League of American Football) in 1995, where he was able to hone his place kicking. After a year, the New England Patriots decided to take him on as their kicker.
If not for the NFL Europe, these three guys would have more than likely never received a real chance at playing in the National Football League. The league may not be remembered for developing all-star talent, but it no doubt was better than nothing. Unfortunately, NFL Europe shut down in 2007 after fan support continued to slip year after year.
But there is a sign that Europeans want to see American football. In 2007, tickets to the Saints and Giants game played in London sold out quickly, and there is serious talk about playing a Super Bowl in London in the near future.
So if the fans enjoy football, why was there little fan support for NFL Europe?
The quality of the league was questionable, the marketing was terrible (especially in the U.S.), and many fans say they had much rather see the "real deal," than fourth and fifth string players from NFL teams. If the NFL were to get serious about offering a quality football league in Europe though, there would be a much better chance of success.
Whatever the case, a developmental league is needed for football. We do have several leagues coming up, such as the UFL and AAFL, but neither of those are associated with the NFL. NFL Europe is directly related to the NFL, which would be much more efficient for teams looking to develop young players.
Since American Football is more popular than ever worldwide, and the Europeans are showing interest in it, it would make sense for the NFL to give NFL Europe one last shot. If that doesn't succeed, than there would probably be more than enough cities in the U.S.A. willing to accept an NFL Developmental team.
Because without developmental leagues, we could be missing out on the next NFL superstar.
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