UFL: Selling Out and Wimping Out

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UFL: Selling Out and Wimping Out
(Photo by Gary Williams/Getty Images)

The United Football League, which kicks off Oct. 22, released its playing rules this week, and if you're an NFL fan, you're bound to be disappointed if you don't like change.

Perhaps the most atrocious variation from NFL rules is the quarterback "grounding" rule, where the QB, under pressure, is allowed to ground the ball whether he is inside or outside the pocket.

And Raiders fans will be sad to hear the "tuck" rule, made famous in the 2002 playoff game between Oakland and New England, will be eliminated.

The rule, meant to hold quarterbacks responsible for their intent, rules the reneging of forward motion—either by tucking the ball back or stopping the passing motion—an incomplete pass if it is forced out by a defender.

All coaches will be "wired" so their comments will be broadcast—although supposedly no sideline chatter will be aired—and cameras will be allowed in locker rooms for the first four minutes of halftime to provide fans with "off-limit" access throughout the game.

I guess it's just as bad as the occasional pep talk we can peep in on in the NFL and NBA. But it seems like a media ploy, and not a very good one. As Joe Torre once said—of course, he totally abandoned the idea in his book—what happens in the locker room should stay in the locker room.

All of us want to see what goes on "behind the scenes" in football but, the pains the UFL is taking to reel in fans seems desperate.

Many of the rules reflect this desperation. For example, players are allowed "tasteful" forms of "group celebration" in the end zone and bench area after a TD. OK, what the hell does that mean? Sounds like Dottie's splits to impress fans in A League of Their Own. Lame.

I prefer my head-bumping, authentic celebrations, not premeditated jumping through hoops. Call me old school.

"The UFL's Competition Committee looked at the current rules that govern most professional football leagues and determined ways to enhance the overall experience for both the players and the fans," San Francisco coach Dennis Green, the chairman of the committee, told the Oakland Tribune.

Green contends this is not a "gimmick league." Sorry, Dennis, but not only do I not get it, I just plain don't buy it.

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