Notice the vague title.
Shift attention to what? The UFL? The CFL? And what can one big name to do have such an impact on the attention the NFL gets?
With a lockout currently in place, and the possibility of not having an NFL season in 2011 looming over America, all possibilities have to be considered.
Migration To Other Big Sports
Brandon Marshall, "star" receiver on the Miami Dolphins, has been cited as saying that he would deeply consider trying out his talents in the NBA in the event of a work stoppage next football season.
Wasn't Antonio Gates quite the basketball player in his college days, before deciding to instantly shift half his attention to football? Then the rest became history.
Okay, so there are two players that people like to come see. A lot of ticket purchases are subconsciously to watch these players play and there are many more.
The only upside is that history says that such migrations will not shift attention away from the league.
When the legendary Michael Jordan went M.I.A. in 1994-1995 to play for the Chicago White Sox, the NBA stood strong. Though he is the best NBA player of all time, he's still just one player.
The NBA (and less so, the MLB) are a potential threat to NFL attention.
I didn't include the Canadien Football League because I don't see it as a potential threat, but there are several reasons why the United Football League could grab some attention from the NFL.
To start off, if NFL players who play primarily for the love of the game aren't ready to accept a year without football, the UFL could be the first league they look to.
Because we're dealing with National Football League level athletes, the UFL could be their backdoor into stardom.
And, if I were a third strong lineman for an ailing team and I found a light at the end of the tunnel in the UFL, I'm not completely sure I'd just hop right back to the league that locked me out for a year.
Well, what if an NFL superstar migrated to the UFL?
That's just a scary thought. Peyton Manning doesn't just possess incredible skills and a heavy weight on his shoulders, but also an extremely large fanbase that would surely check out the UFL if he were to play for one of the five teams in it (Hartford Colonials, Las Vegas Locomotives, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions, Virginia Destroyers), because I know that I would.
And then, in this dimension that I never hope bears existence, the UFL could expand.
Everyone always wishes that cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas could have NFL teams. Well, Vegas has a UFL team—could L.A. be next?
Would it be like Terrell Owens deciding he was unhappy with the Bengals, and then debating whether he'd return to Cincinnati or sign a deal with the Sacramento Mountain Lions?
No disrespect to the UFL, and the audacity that its establishment had to make a new football league, but that's not a decision I want my favorite PR-magnet NFL players to make.
Moral of the story: Let them play.
From the Green Bay Packers winning Super Bowl I in 1966, to their trophy-claiming victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the NFL is one of the best things to follow, root for, and bet on in the entire world.