The National Football League recently shelled out some new rules concerning celebrations after a touchdown, those rules to me showed how the NFL is actually setting itself back as far as entertainment. Putting handcuffs on the player’s celebrations is like putting the players through a time warp backwards. It’s time for the NFL to make a step forward as several other leagues have done so, most recently the NBA.
The NBA started a D-League, Developmental League, in 2001 and started out with eight franchises mainly in the southeast part of the United States. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia started their seasons as owned by private owners. The league grew in 2005, expanding to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida, and Oklahoma. Despite the fact that the original southeastern teams are no longer in existence, the league has grown to 17 teams spanning from Portland, Maine to Cedar Park, Texas all the way to Bakersfield, California.
Major League Baseball has had a longer tenure in regards to minor league baseball and utilizing the developmental system. Minor league baseball teams have been around since the 1870’s but it wasn’t structured as it is today until 1963. MLB sets a 40-man roster with 25 of which play for the major league team. The remaining 15 are sent down to the “farm system” to grow as a player.
The NFL has yet to take part in a developmental league putting them behind the times, just like their recent rules on celebrations. The United States Football League could have been easily seen a minor-league football system but greed and Donald Trump pitted the NFL versus the USFL. The NFL won. There was an attempt with the World League of American Football (1991-92) and the NFL-Europe (1995-2007) but due to marketing and financial concerns, the leagues shutdown.
The problem with the two aforementioned leagues was that they weren’t fully committed to developing the athletes plus they were in markets that were experimental to say the least. Playing American football in Europe was not the smartest of marketing ideas. Many times throughout the NFL’s attempt at minor league football, they had to restructure teams, move them to different venues, and sink more money into a project that had problems keeping fan interest.
The National Spring Football League is starting in the spring of 2014 with 12 teams spread out the nation. The goal of the NSFL is to develop the athletes on their teams to play at the next level. And that next level could very well be the NFL or the Canadian Football League. The NSFL has teams in Texas, California, Florida, the upper northeast in Boston and Rhode Island. Oklahoma, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia, and Georgia also have teams starting out in the inaugural season. To become a part of the NSFL as an investor, sponsor, a player, or fans interested visit their website at thensfl.com.
The Dallas Cowboys could use a system such as this, possibly feed teams into the San Antonio and Oklahoma teams. These young men that don’t make the final 53 man roster would now have the chance to play and make the team when needed as they develop. Players such as Alex Tanney and Nick Stephens would have a better chance to develop to become better quarterbacks.
I would consider these guys lucky to have the chance at football other than the NFL and CFL, there is semi pro/amateur football but those guys are playing for the love of the game. And there is nothing wrong with playing for the love of the game but at some point even some of those athletes now have the chance to make their move to the big leagues.