The United States Football League is back in the spring of 2013, according to reports from ESPN.com; being a part of the semiprofessional football world I already know how it will affect the players playing either without pay or very little pay looking for an opportunity to showcase their skills. Many of these young men attempt to play Canadian Football (CFL) and Arena Football (AFL) and now have another opportunity to showcase their skills and increase their pocket books. Some of the many players playing in
various semiprofessional or amateur football leagues have the talent to play professional football, but for reasons that are all different, they don’t make it to the next level some of them not even making it to the collegiate level.
How does it affect the Dallas Cowboys? The best comparison I can give goes back to my time as a General Manager for a team last football season called the Golden Crescent Raiders, a team co-owned by former NFL great Priest Holmes. In my hometown, we had 2 semiprofessional football teams, the Victoria Texans and the Raiders. In a town of 70,000 plus it would seem that the talent pool would not be a problem. In fact, it was. How will it affect the Cowboys? It could mean a saturation of talent, as it did for my town’s situation. The solution in my town was to combine the two teams, as one team didn’t make the playoffs while the other team limped in and out of the playoffs very quickly. Now I’m not saying that every player will hop to the USFL but the fact of the matter is that there will be less out there to look at as some players will find a home on a USFL team that may as well be playing for the Cowboys.
Will some players that are currently playing play for the USFL, which plans on playing during the spring? I am sure that there are clauses in their NFL contracts that prohibit them from jumping around from league to league. I see it all the time in my semi pro experience as some players may jump to a league that his still playing football as soon as their league is done playing. In the very early days of the NFL, players would play several games in several days as I learned in watching the video, “75 Seasons of the NFL.” The player they interviewed exclaimed that he played 3 games in 4 days.
Free agency will be a bit more interesting as the players can use the USFL as leverage for more money and better incentives as well as getting long term commitments. Think about it for a moment, the USFL is going to be desperate to prove itself, and will be hard pressed to make big deals with very talented NFL players. The creme of the crop of the NFL Free Agent class will now have the tools demand more for their careers and pocketbooks. The Cowboys will be competing not only the other 31 teams, but however many the new USFL can come up with as well.
One aspect I know that it will not affect the Cowboys is the fan base. It doesn’t matter where you put a football team in the state of Texas, there will always be Cowboy fans in full force. Even if the USFL decides one season to try to play against the NFL, which was part of the downfall of the original USFL of the early 80’s, the dedication Dallas Cowboy fans exhibit is pretty hard to beat.
I wrote last week about the Cowboys looking for a diamond in the rough and finding one in Bill Bates. Bates was actually selected by a team in the USFL draft but he chose to play for his favorite NFL team, the Cowboys. Imagine for a minute, if Bates had decided to follow through and play for USFL. For one thing, there wouldn’t have been an article about who would be the next Bill Bates plus I don’t think that the NFL would have changed its Special teams units the way they did when Bates played.
One other thing to think about, if the USFL were to become successful, the Cowboys selection process in drafting players would have to change and it would be a “rat race” as it was back in the days of the NFL and the American Football League (the original AFL). Getting top players to play would be a little more difficult because Dallas would be competing, upping the ante on making sure the players they would want would not turn face and play for the rival league.
The USFL would have to prove itself in many ways before they would be taken seriously; they have taken one step by having Hall of Famer, former Oakland Raider Fred Biletnikoff as advisor. Just because you have a former NFL player apart of an organization doesn’t make it an instant success, unfortunately those Golden Crescent Raiders no longer exist but that doesn’t mean the USFL will not make a good attempt to keep up with the Joneses.