ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Needs an "Off-Season" from Football?

The derth of football and football news right now is really difficult for many of us serious football fans to take. I mean what am I going to watch on TV all week? What am I going to talk to my friends about?

This got me thinking about the UFL and as of this moment, I wish the UFL played in the Spring/Summer. Imagine if the playoffs of the UFL were coming to a finale right about now as NFL summer camps are getting set to open. It could be used as a kind of tryout period for players hoping to make NFL rosters.

There are currently about 2,400 players on NFL rosters. Roughly 80 players on 32 teams. Which is just a tiny fraction of qualified players. There are 120 FBS division college football programs. If we only count the 22 starters from each team that leaves us with 2,640 college football players per year with starting experience. And for our purposes here let's say that if each of those players remained in playing shape until they were 30 from the time they graduated when they were 22, that is 8 years worth of those 2,640 somewhat qualified players or 21,120.

Now that is clearly an exaggerated number given how many of those players might not be any good as well and given how that many players start for multiple years. What I'm getting at however, is that there is clearly a surplus of qualified players that aren't getting opportunities for one reason or another. Perhaps they are on one team's bench or practice squad being hidden from other teams where they might have a chance to flourish.

However, the UFL is trying to establish itself as a rival to the NFL rather than a developmental league. Although I hope they succeed and eventually compete with the NFL, I just want to see them do it in a different season. The talent to create a competitive league that rivals the NFL is there as you can see above. Maybe the UFL won't be able to post a full 32 team roster but there are certainly enough players out there to fill 8-12 teams. Until the UFL augments the total number of teams, the length of the season, and ultimately fan's interest it won't be anything but a feeder league as players will certainly chase the NFL money and jump to The League at the first chance they get.

It seems like the UFL has good leadership in position to create a compelling football product and is starting by getting the product right before they begin pushing it to the masses. They don't want people watching until they have a product worth watching. Maybe they are playing in the Fall now in order to get players that are still in football shape or maybe they are doing it to purposefully fly under the radar of NFL fans. One thing is for certain though, if they were playing right now I would be watching.


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