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United Football League : Time To Burn Out Or Fade Away
Category: FEATURED
Tags: UFL WFL USFL AAFC AFL NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame American Football League National Football League United Football League United States

The United Football League started operations in 2009, becoming America's first alternative to the National Football League since 1987. While the UFL has no connections to the NFL. some in the media thought that it would eventually serve as a developmental league.

 

Others speculated the UFL was born at the time it was to swoop in when the NFL and their players would lock out after the 2010 season. Now that this has happened, the UFL is on the cusp of doing something only one other league has done before. Competing against the NFL has been more a losing proposition.

 

There have been many leagues formed to oppose the NFL. The first was the American Football League in 1926, created by Hall of Famer Red Grange and his agent after Chicago Bears owner George Halas reneged on monies owed to Grange.

 

The AFL tried to capitalize on a messy 1925 season for the NFL. Commissioner Joe Carr had just stolen the Championship Trophy from the Pottsville Maroons and handed it to the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals owner, NFL co-founder Chris O'Brien, refused the trophy, but the Bidwell family bought the Cardinals in 1933 and have claimed the trophy since.

 

Grange started the New York Yankees Football Club. A charter NFL team, the Rock Island Independents, joined the AFL and the league played one game in Canada that year. One team, the Brooklyn Horsemen, merged with the Detroit Lions.

 

This AFL folded after just one season due to financial issues. The second AFL formed in 1936, lasting two years before folding. This league had a team, the Los Angeles Bulldogs, that was the first professional team to play home games on the West Coast. The league had a team called the Cincinnati Bengals, who Hall of Famer Paul Brown named his 1967 expansion team after.

 

The lasting legacy of the second AFL was the Cleveland Rams, who are now known as the Saint Louis Rams in the NFL. The Rams had a rookie by the name of Sid Gillman on their 1936 team. Gillman is a Hall of Famer known as the "Father of the Modern Day NFL Offense". A second Yankees team was founded as well, and starred Hall of Fame running back Ken Strong.

 

Though the Los Angeles team drew fans, the rest of the league only garnered local interests in their respective areas. The financial strains of trying to compete against the NFL caused them to fold after 1937, but the dream of competition lived on.

 

The third AFL formed in 1940. They had a third version of the Yankees, a team that has lineage tied to the Indianapolis Colts, and Bengals. The Yankees called themselves the Americans in 1941, creating a coup by signing 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon over the Chicago Bears. The league folded after just two years because World War II emptied most of their rosters.

 

The All-American Football Conference was born after the war. The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and San Francisco 49ers were teams born from the AAFC that would later join the NFL, though this Colts team has no ties to the current version. The Browns dominated the league, once going a record 29 games without defeat.

 

The AAFC is most remembered for breaking the color line professional sports employed in that era. The Browns signed Bill Willis and Marion Motley, two men who would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The AAFC drew well at first, and helped the NFL get more viewers as well.

 

The increasing popularity of pro football led to salary increases for the players. Only two NFL teams had profits in 1946. The AAFC instilled the use of the face mask, refining pass route running, shuttling players with plays called from the sideline, a year-round coaching staff, and classroom sessions that broke down games on a chalkboard and film.

 

The league folded when the Browns, Colts, and 49ers merged with the NFL. A fourth AAFC team, the Buffalo Bills, had their large fan base unsuccessfully campaigned for their teams inclusion but failed. Ralph Wilson, then a part-owner of the Detroit Lions saw this rabid fan base and would reward them a decade later.

 

The fourth American Football League was founded in 1960. Owners like Wilson, Bud Adams, and Lemar Hunt made the league work even despite their initial struggles. The AFL took an aggressive approach. They did not only line their rosters with ex-NFL players, but they held their own annual drafts and offered college kids more money than the NFL.

 

They made a few huge signings, starting with 1959 Heisman winner Billy Cannon. Adams recruited him in the end zone of his final collegiate game. Cannon would help lead the Houston Oilers to the first two championship wins in AFL history.

 

Others soon followed Cannon to the AFL. Hall of Famers like Joe Namath, Lance Alworth, Ron Mix, and Johnny Robinson were all first-round draft picks of the NFL who opted for the AFL. All are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame except Robinson, who should be as well. The AFL put 31 men in the Hall of Fame, so far, and should have more.

 

The AFL brought an exciting brand of big play football without castrating the defenses. The offenses were exciting, as opposed to the grind-it-out style of the NFL then. Despite their fun play, the NFL considered them inferior and called them a "Mickey Mouse League."

 

When the AFL beat the NFL in the third Super Bowl, opinions changed. Secret meetings between Hunt and NFL owners in 1966, that were held without the knowledge of league commissioners Pete Rozelle and Al Davis, bred a merger that was agreed upon in 1970.

 

The AFL won the Super Bowl one more time in 1969 before it happened. Most of the AFC teams of today started in the AFL and no AFL team is in the NFC.

 

Since then, the World Football League, United States Football League, and XFL tried to compete with the NFL. The WFL signed several NFL stars and even took a few out of college.

 

Hall of Famers Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield were joined by Pat Haden, Danny White, Alfred Jenkins, Greg Latta, Jim Fassell, and Vince Papale, along with coaches like Jack Pardee, Marty Shottenheimer, Lindy Infante, and John McVay, to play two years with the WFL until it folded.

 

The XFL lasted one year before folding. They tried to bring in old school fans by allowing the bump and run defense, except they let defenders hit the receiver at any time. After four weeks, they adopted the NFL's five-yard chuck rule to increase scoring. They only allowed the two-point conversion after touchdowns, which the WFL also had, and they did not flip a coin to begin games to determine possession. They had a player from each team run 20 yards to gain possession of the ball laying on the 50-yard line.

 

The XFL put 33 players in the NFL and seven played in Super Bowls. Five won Super Bowl rings and Tommy Maddox, Bobby Singh, and Rob Carpenter won both an XFL and NFL championship.

 

The USFL had some successes in their three years of play. The league has six men in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and several others who later became stars in the NFL. They were aggressive in bidding for NFL free agents and college stars. Some of their biggest signing were Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Steve Young out of college, as well as 1982 Heisman winner Hershel Walker, 1983 winner Mike Rozier, and 1984 winner Doug Flutie.

 

The USFL also attained the services of Hall of Famers Reggie White and Gary Zimmerman by offering them more money. Despite all of this, they could not keep up financially and teams began folding before they suspended play after 1985 and took the NFL to court. After losing their lawsuit, the USFL folded in 1987.

 

The UFL has all of this history to learn from. To see what works and what is a risk for failure. They are struggling some already, having their New York team move to Connecticut and Florida team move to Virginia and become owned by the league.

 

The league has just five teams right now and plans to play on Sundays starting in August. If they receive an influx of NFL players, there is a possibility of a sixth team. The UFL allows celebrations by players and have a "No Tuck Rule".

 

Several NFL coaches are in the UFL. Jim Fassel, Marty Shottenheimer, Jerry Glanville and Dennis Green lead teams. Joe Moglia, the Ameritrade CEO who was an unpaid assistant at Nebraska University, will coach the other team. The UFL has had 27 of their players go on and play in the NFL.

 

The UFL appears to be restricted financially. They borrowed $5 million from Mark Cuban last year and now have been taken to court by Cuban for failure to re-pay him on time. Cuban was once rumored to be interested in owning a UFL team and broadcasted their games on his HDnet network the first two years of their existence.

 

With the NFL appearing a long time away from solving their differences, the UFL could benefit. There is also a chance the lock out can hurt them. NFL players are trying to convince college players to skip the draft, so owners have been said to consider using replacement players like they did in 1987 during a players strike. The UFL could see most of their players in NFL uniforms.

 

Getting NFL players to join them could take time, as many may prefer to sit back and observe the negotiations. The UFL also does not appear to have the maverick leadership the AFL in the 1960's enjoyed. But it could work.

 

If an influx of bored NFL players decides to go to the UFL to collect a paycheck, their popularity could increase. It may increase already, considering they are the only game in town right now. In this tenuous situation, the next few months can define the legacy of the United Football League.

A Wild Weekend
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NCAA Basketball MLB NCAA Football NFL

Just watching March Madness is producing an extremely “wild weekend”.  What a great NCAA Basketball Tournament we are enjoying this year!  To add even more titillation to the weekend, I participated in the first of two Baseball Fantasy drafts earlier this evening, and I am pleased with my selections.  It is always hard for me to pick players that are not on my favorite team, but if I pick too many Arizona players, I am sure to have a bad fantasy season.  I singled out four players from the Diamondbacks, and I made sure I did not over-reach with any of my picks.  My basic strategy was to pick the “best player” available when it was my turn to pick.  This is a 12-team league, and I was slotted to pick my first player with the 6th pick of the draft.  For my first pick, I selected Robinson Cano, 2nd baseman of the New York Yankees.  With the 13th pick, I selected centerfielder Josh Hamilton.  I also selected the four best players on Arizona’s roster, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, and Miguel Montero. All in all, I think I had a very good draft, we will see when the season unfolds.  My second draft will be tomorrow at 2 P.M. Phoenix time.  I would be satisfied with getting the very same team (it will not happen).

For about nine months I have been going to Bill Johnson’s Big Apple for breakfast every Saturday morning with my roommate Diesel and my great friend Ed, the guy in the Notre Dame hat.  This morning, we are going to try out a new restaurant, The Black Bear.   Sometimes change is a good thing, and in this case, I think we are doing the right thing to tryout a new place to eat.  I have nothing but good things to say about The Big Apple and its employees, but it was definitely time for us to move on.  Hopefully The Black Bear will become our Saturday morning breakfast home for the next few months. 

 

My favorite college football team, the Arizona State Sun Devils, is participating right now in spring practice.  I believe that this next season will be a very successful one for the Sun Devils, who most probably will be favored to win the new Southern Division of the new PAC-12 football line-up.  The teams in this division are Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Colorado, and Utah.  The new PAC-12 North Division will include Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State.  The two Division winners will meet for the PAC-12 title.  It all sounds delightful to me.

 

Thinking about college football helps to keep my mind off of the current fiasco that is going on in the NFL right now.  That is the players’ lock-out that threatens to cancel the 2011 Football season.   Things are dragging along right now at the pace of a sea slug, so do not expect any positive news on that front in the next few months.  I still am promoting a fan boycott of the league should next year’s schedule be reduced or cancelled.  It would be very easy to boycott them (with a little help from my friends), just do not go to any games (if the owners and the players ever settle their dispute) or even watch the games on the television.  After the revenues pummel, maybe they will get the hint that they need us much more than we need them.

The annual NFL Draft is going to go off right on schedule on April 28, a provision was included that would allow the draft if a new collective bargaining agreement was not reached.  Of course there will be no trades allowed during the draft, so basically there will be a draft with no surprises, every team will draft in their slotted order.  The next hurdle to pass after the draft will be signing the drafted players, which will not happen until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.  The NFL has really screwed up, and it is time that we fans helped turn the screws even tighter.  I can handle a season or so without the NFL, perhaps we all should agree to attend to other matters just to show them our extreme displeasure.  In the meantime, we have March Madness, Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL playoffs, auto racing, professional golf and tennis, and next season’s NCAA football (among other sports) to appease our sporting appetites.

Five Minute Frags - No Longer Testes About Steroids
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Barry Bonds Mark McGwire Roger Clemens

I need to put the following words in writing, if for no other reason than to preserve the fact that they came out of my mouth.

I no longer care about steroids in baseball!

I have a hard time believing I said it myself, as over the years I have had a multitude of things to say on the subject. I took a stance against players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds that ran through the record books thanks to juicing. I've said my peace on excluding suspected steroid users from the Hall of Fame based on speculation alone. I've even cast an opinion on the use of the asterisk to denote those records that fell due to chemical cheating.

Frankly speaking though, I'm just tired of speaking on the subject.

Maybe that's what most of America is feeling now that Barry Bonds is finally going on trial to face perjury charges in connection with the BALCO investigation. Perhaps we all just have a sense of the fact that this trial is happening two years too late for most sports fans to still be passionate about their hate for Bonds or any other person associated with the biggest scandal to rock professional baseball.

But I don't think so.

I think the larger populace, myself included, has just come to a decision point in their fandom. Either we allow the seeds of doubt to grow and constantly cloud the past and present of the game we love until we can no longer stomach it, or we decide that our love of the game and the memories that forged that love, no matter how false some of them may be, are more important to us than how they were created. To me, the choice of trying to remember the past for how it made me feel about the game is more important than walking away from it because the players couldn't police themselves.

Baseball has always been one of those things in life that is constant when everything around you is in flux. It has been about a yearlong commitment to the break on the curve ball, the smell of the grass at the park, the pop of the mitt, and the crack of the bat. It's been about coming home from work and unwinding to a ballgame at any hour of the night. It's been about watching Cal Ripken Jr. and Don Mattingly cycle through 15 different batting stances throughout their careers. It's been about explaining to my kids the difference between a "Seeing Eye Single" and a "Texas Leaguer."

Basically put, I'm happy enough to drink the Kool-aid from the glass half full. If it means that my childhood memories are safe or walk-away from the longest love affair of my life, then I'm willing to put it behind me. If it means that I don't have to give up the feeling I had when Boston won their first World Series in 86 years or any of the other bright moments of the game during the last 30 years, then I think I can live with the mistakes of the past.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and all.

My Wife's Workplace Should Be Interesting Today
Category: User Showcase

Did you see the SDSU-UConn game Thursday night???

Did you see the event that changed the tone of the game???

The technical by freshman Jamaal Franklin???

Bumping Kemba Walker as the teams were heading to a time out???

From that point on...

The momentum and the lead swung in favor of the Huskies...

The lovely Miss Kim and I were especially excited to see Jamaal in the game...

Given the fact that his mom and my wife are coworkers...

A lesson learned...

Hopefully...

Oh well...

 

 

dvt

 

 

Thanks for Beeze for dong my blog today...

I will be back next week...

Doctor of Football
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Lou Holtz

 

When Sully asked me to fill in for Friday, I had no idea what I was going to write about. As I browsed a bit of odds and ends, I stumbled across this bit of news about Lou Holtz. Notre Dame announced Wednesday that Lou Holtz would be given an honorary doctor of laws degree. I am not sure what a doctor of laws degree is, but I do know that Holtz will be thrilled to receive this recognition from Notre Dame. Since Holtz was in the news, I thought that I might explore a few tidbits about Coach Holtz.

 

Over the years, I have watched Holtz coach at Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina. What I have always enjoyed about Holtz is his brutal honesty. He simply tells it like it is. Yes he is funny, but more importantly, it was obvious that he cared about his players. He cared enough about his players to suspend 6 of them before the 1978 Orange Bowl. Let's take a look back at this incident...Holtz was in his first year at Arkansas. His team was ranked 6 in the country and Oklahoma was ranked 2. Holtz was saddened to discover wrong doing by 6 of his players. Now these were not back up players, but the top two running backs and the top wide receiver. Despite the absence of these players, Arkansas stunned heavily favored Oklahoma 31 to 6. What was telling is that not one word of support came from the Arkansas administration.

"In his autobiography, “Wins, Losses and Lessons,” Holtz says the suspensions were met with silence from the university administration before the game."

“Not once did I receive a phone call from anyone associated with the University of Arkansas supporting me or questioning what had happened. No one in authority stood up for me. No one came out and said I’d made the right decision or had done the right thing by not revealing the details of the suspension,” he said in the book." Not only was Holtz left hanging, he also was left to defend himself against a discrimination lawsuit filed by the players. Holtz was defended by a young Arkansas attoney general named Bill Clinton. There were many twists to this story, but the players decided to drop the suit...I guess that they decided that they did not want the details of their suspension to become public.

It may puzzle some that I say he cared enough about the young me to suspend them, but this is exactly how I see it. Holtz had rules for all of the team members and by holding them accountable for their actions, he gave them the tough love that so many young athletes simply never get. You might say that ethics define Lou Holtz. How sad that all coaches do not share this same trait.

Now, I am not pointing any fingers, but if the buckeye fits...

 

Of course a blog about Lou Holtz would not be complete without a bit of his special humor and wisdom...

 

 

A lifetime contract for a coach means if you are ahead in the third quarter and moving the ball, they can't fire you.

Coaching is nothing more than eliminating mistakes before you get fired.

I can't believe that God put us on earth to be ordinary.

I never learned anything talking. I only learned when I asked questions.

If he has golf clubs in his truck or a camper in his driveway, I don't hire him.

It is fine to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.

It is not the load that breaks you down, it is the way you carry it.

Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.

Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.

No one has ever drowned in sweat.

 

 

 

I really never noticed it, but Holtz bears a striking resemblance to another country philosopher...

 

 

 

Cheers, coach! You deserve it...


 


It is late, so I will just add a few miscellaneous pics for your entertainment:

 

 

 

 

 

and a few classics...

 

 

 

 

 

                                     

The apple did not fall far from the tree...

 

 



Thanks for stopping by...

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