It's happening once again, another league is trying to compete with the NFL. You'd think after the USFL, the WFL, and worst of all, the XFL (shudder), these people would know better. Still, in October 2009 the United Football League will begin its first season. And while many have written off already, I'm willing to say, this, at the very least COULD work.
Admittedly, it's hard to get excited about a league whose most famous player is J.P. Losman (I live in Buffalo, and am quite happy to be rid of him), but there is some definite potential here. For one thing, the hiring of big names such as Jim Haslett and Dennis Green shows that there are serious players willing to give this a chance.
Second, if Michael Vick does play in this league, his profile will shoot through the roof. Millions will tune in to see what Vick is up to.
Luckily, the success of this league does not necessarily depend on him. There are a few things about the UFL's approach that could make it work. First of all, it is running concurrent to the NFL season but not competing with it.
The games will during the week in October and November. This is key because it means the games will be televised when everyone has football on their brain. The XFL began play in February, one week after the Super Bowl. A time in which the casual fan is sick of football, and isn't exactly willing to root for a bunch of new teams.
Beginning in October is smart because around that time, everyone is thinking about football, and the long wait from Sunday to Sunday might make fans a bit more willing to try something different. In addition to this, the league is taking a conservative approach to introducing themselves.
There are only 4 teams beginning play this year, and so far advertising hasn't ambushed us. This means they are less likely to lose a lot of money in their first year, and if they struggle to capture an audience, they might be able to give it another shot.
Admittedly, there is no guarantee that this league will work. Every other league has failed, and the UFL has a tough road ahead of it. That being said, the UFL's ability to attract big name coaches, and possibly a few major players, combined with a smart marketing strategy could lead to the league staying around for a few years at least.
If nothing else, there's reason to have some hope.