Five Reasons Why You Should Be Watching The United Football League This Season
On a professional gridiron this weekend, Daunte Culpepper will be coached by Dennis Green once again.
Maurice Clarett will attempt to evade opposing defenders, not criminal charges.
Another team will take a gamble with Jeff Garcia.
Clearly, this isn't the National Football League; rather, it is the United Football League (UFL), which began its second season of play last weekend in Hartford, Conn.
While many will scoff at the notion of a small professional league in comparison to the behemoth that is the NFL, here are five reasons why the UFL deserves a glance.
5. Plenty of Players Trying To Impress NFL Teams
Before Redskins kicker Graham Gano booted field goals in the nation's capital, he kicked a game-winning field goal in the UFL Championship Game.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
With the threat of a 2011 lockout in the NFL already looming over the current season, why not enjoy football played by those doing it for the love of the game – hopeful for a return to America's most popular league?
The UFL is chock full of players looking to make their mark professionally after being spurned by NFL teams. Behind the well-known names the league brought into the fold this season (more on those later), there lies many more hoping to use the UFL as a launchpad for bigger and better things.
Take Graham Gano, for example: after kicking the game-winning field goal for the Las Vegas Locomotives in last year’s UFL Championship Game, he’s now the starting kicker for the Washington Redskins.
4. Every Game is Available for Free
A Versus promo for the network's UFL coverage.
Sure, the UFL exists in relative TV anonymity, claiming regional network NESN as one of its national television partners along with Versus and HDNet.
However, every game is available for free on the league’s website. The production values aren’t awful, and ageless analyst Paul Maguire is now calling games for HDNet.
3. Jeff Garcia and Ahman Green Are Still Active and Playing
40-year-old Jeff Garcia will start for the expansion Omaha Nighthawks.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Jeff Garcia may be one of the underappreciated quarterbacks in NFL history. He replaced both Steve Young and Donovan McNabb (temporarily) with the 49ers and Eagles respectively, and took both teams to the playoffs. Unable to find a job after being cut in a second stint with the Eagles last season, Garcia joins the expansion Omaha Nighthawks this season.
Joining Garcia in Nebraska is former Cornhusker Ahman Green, who nearly ran for 2,000 yards as a Green Bay Packer in 2003 – coming up 117 yards short. After an 11-year career with the Seahawks, Packers, and Texans, the Omaha native will have the chance to play professionally in front of his hometown for the first time as a Nighthawk.
One of Green's backups in Omaha? Maurice Clarett. Yes, that Maurice Clarett.
2. Dennis Green and Daunte Culpepper Are Reunited
Daunte Culpepper looks to regain his Pro Bowl-caliber form under head coach Dennis Green and the Sacramento Mountain Lions.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Before Culpepper became a journeyman quarterback, the Central Florida alum dazzled for seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 135 touchdowns donning a purple and white uniform. The 6’4”, 260-pound quarterback suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee during the 2005 season, and never regained past form during stints with the Dolphins, Raiders and Lions.
Thus, Dennis Green -- Culpepper’s former head coach in Minnesota from 1999-2001 -- brought him into the fold of the Sacramento Mountain Lions, where Culpepper will presumably look to impress NFL teams.
Who knows? Maybe the Daunte Culpepper who threw bombs to Randy Moss at the Metrodome will make a return.
1. It’s Football
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Isn’t that reason enough to watch?