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Does the United Football League have any value?


The United Football League likely played its final two games last night as the Virginia Destroyers (the relocated Florida Tuskers) beat the Las Vegas Locos to win the third UFL championship. The Sacramento Mountain Lions also won the consolation game. Without a buyout from the NFL, it seems very likely that the UFL will not return, however I still believe that the UFL holds value not only as a stand alone football league, but also as a minor league system for the NFL. 

Of course, the main problem with that is the NFL already has a free minor league system (free of charge) in college football, but that system does not give the NFL football ready players in the middle of its season. That is certainly an issue for several NFL teams right now, and if NFL Commish Roger Goodell really wants to expand the game, the UFL feels like a safer bet that putting a NFL franchise in London. 

However, a significant investment would need to be made. The UFL currently has just four teams. If they want to be a true NFL minor league, they would need to expand to eight teams quickly. Since this league is debt ridden and allegedly unable to pay its bills that seems very unlikely. However, an infusion of cash along with a new Commish and help from the NFL could save this league.

If I were running things or in a position to help make this decision I would try to save the UFL. Look for ownership groups that cannot afford a NFL franchise and work quickly to identify NFL teams interested and markets where the UFL could thrive. 

I would want to expand to eight teams and look for NFL teams to split UFL franchises where each team could develop players and keep them in football shape. My idea here is for NFL franchisees to share UFL franchises much like NHL team's share minor league hockey teams in the ECHL and other leagues.

For example, I would place a UFL team in Toledo, Ohio (a market that could do very well and is a top minor league town in other sports) and work to get the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns to share in the operating costs, profits and player development. I think a plan like that could work, and several NFL teams are close enough geographically that they could share a UFL team that was in a non NFL market close to them. 

Chicago and Green Bay in say Milwaukee, San Francisco and Oakland in San Jose, Washington and Baltimore in Virginia, Atlanta and Jacksonville in Tallahassee, New York Giants and New York Jets in Hartford, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in Scranton. It could work, but it will take a lot of money. 

It all comes down to value. The UFL could be successful, could be profitable, and could hold value for the NFL in preparing guys who would normally be on NFL practice squads or out of the game completely to be ready to come in and replace injured guys. However, all of that is going to take money and the NFL owners may be unwilling to do any of that after the failure of NFL Europa. It seems likely the UFL is done, and we will wait another ten years before someone else decides to launch the next upstart football league. 

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