Taking a Look at the UFL

Al's WingmanAnalyst IJuly 30, 2009

The latest attempt at a new professional football league is the United Football League (UFL), who say they will begin play in October, 2009. 


On one hand, it seems a stretch at this point, since the league has apparently not (to our knowledge) signed any players, announced any training camps, or scheduled any actual games.


On the other hand, we do know who the coaches are, and from the looks of it, it’s not a bad start. 


I just wonder if they will be able to pull it all off by October, or if they will stumble through an inaugural year. It is a possibility they will push out the start of the league as well.


Just getting a “team” together may not be that difficult, since there are players available.  It may not be obvious, but there are many guys with college football experience who are ready and willing to try out. 


However, how many of these guys can transform into effective players? 


Plus, considering the time constraints, building team chemistry will be difficult.

It just doesn't seem possible to construct a league this fast.

The good news is there is plenty of legacy for the UFL to follow and learn from.


Let’s not forget, in the late 1950s the American Football League (AFL) was considered a joke of an idea. Many people thought that the NFL, with its high standard of professional football, could not be challenged by a new league.


The UFL is not trying to reach an NFL standard right away. They seem to just want to create their own brand, which was the AFL's objective.


It so happened a young Lamar Hunt was not to be deterred, and he set about his dream of expanding the U.S. sporting landscape with the AFL, gathering investors and business partners as he went.


We know what happened next. Not only did the AFL succeed, it merged with the NFL and helped create a much more exciting brand of football.


The World Football League (WFL), in the 1970s, was next the league that tried to maneuver itself as a viable professional product. 


Some franchises were successful, and certainly, many excellent players could have been found suffering on bad teams.


But management of most franchises and the league's front office did not have the right vision. They ended up fragmenting. It was a case of too many teams being mismanaged in conjunction with a dilution of talent and funding. 


It’s a shame, too. With the right business approach, the WFL may have survived.


The United States Football League (USFL) came along in the 1980s, and was debatably entertaining. 


Some players and teams had their moments. The league went through serious growing pains, but some franchises were drawing fans. The league seemed like it just might make it. 


That was until the league inexplicably decided to move from a Spring league to a Fall league.


The league was too urgent in its attempts to compete with NFL.They didn’t need to do that, and they might have hung on if they had kept to a Spring schedule.


The UFL has a long way to go in a short time to impress anyone. I think a great start will be the key. 


It is not enough to simply field teams in new uniforms and logos, thinking that will captivate people’s interest. What that will do is perk short-term curiosity. 


You need to play good football, and at their current pace, not enough is happening to lead us to believe they can muster that in two-months time.


As for coaching, the UFL has plenty of credible talent in their ranks. All of the head coaches have left an impression in the NFL, and the staff of assistants listed on their website have a track record of getting the job done. 


We’ll just have to see what sort of product the UFL can deliver before casting a judgment on its viability. My opinion is they should not bother with a Fall start, and should play exclusively in the Spring.