Oct 15


Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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I consider myself to be a pretty big sports fan, but apparently I let some stuff slip by me from time to time. For some reason, I had yet to hear about this new UFL thing until watching TV tonite. This, I suppose, is the latest attempt to create a second football league outside of the NFL. And to be honest, I am all for it. I mean, why not? There are a lot of good players that aren't quite ready (or good enough) for the NFL. So maybe this will be a minor league of sorts to the NFL. Randall Cunningham was in attendance to support the league and what it is trying to do. I have always enjoyed Cunningham and the way he played, and the game I have watched so far has been fun to watch as players I remember from their college days have made their presence known.

I am trying to figure out as I watch this game between Las Vegas and Florida if it is similar to NFL Europe, the CFL or the XFL or if it is something totally new and unique. The first died in 2007, the second is still going but is not very attractive to Americans (or Canadians), and the latter was one year and gone (2001). Maybe the UFL will learn from the pros and cons of those ventures and turn a profit and become a factor in the sports world. I dont have any problem at all with a league which is sort of in between the colleges and the pros providing an opportunity for good players to get a chance to show what they have.

There are some pretty good names in this league, too. Andrew Pinnock from South Carolina, Brooks Bollinger from Wisconsin, and Chris Barclay of Wake Forest are just a few of the names I have seen on the league's web-page. Here (http://www.ufl-football.com/) you can see a list of all of the players. It isn't completely star-studded, but there are some respectable names on the list for sure.

The league has but four teams, which I think is smart. For a start-up venture, you need quality, and you cannot have that if you have a million guys to pay. By keeping it to just four teams, the league can pay decently enough to get some quality talent. It is simply the American way to watch the good players play, and without good players, this league - like those before it - simply has no chance.

But there do indeed seem to be good players, and the first teams in this league are the Las Vegas Locomotives, the Florida Tuskers, the New York Sentinels, and the California Redwoods. To be honest, I like each of their names, too, especially the Redwoods.

I also think having the games on the Versus network will help. The announcers (Kordell Stewart among them) are good to listen to. Outside of a weak attendance, I like what I see so far. I am not trying to hype this league - I have no financial interest in it whatsoever. But I like the feel of it in this first game so far and am most always for those willing to take a risk on something new.

The Las Vegas Locomotives. They are playing tonite at Sam Boyd Stadium (40,000), but talks for a 75,000 seat stadium on the Vegas strip are in process. That certainly wouldn't have been a factor tonite as the attendance is low, but in the future, an attractive stadium always helps. The proposed stadium wouldn't be just for the Locomotives either, but rather to lure a Super Bowl, to host concerts, to host other sporting events such as soccer, etc... among other things that the city of Las Vegas can attract. The team is owned by Bill Hambrecht, a Princeton graduate who founded and is spearheading this league. The Locomotives are coached by Jim Fassel. Amp Lee - a former Florida State star - is also on the coaching staff.

Key players on this team include Jamal Lewis of Georgia Tech, one of two GT players, and George Gause from South Carolina. Oklahoma also has two former players on this team and the Utah Utes have three former players on this roster.

The Florida Tuskers - The Florida Tuskers will be playing out of a couple of different Florida facilites over their six game schedule. They will use Tropicana Field for games, as well as the newly remodeled Florida Citrus Bowl. The team is owned by Sunburst Entertainment Group - a branch of the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is coached by Jim Haslett, who was the 2000 NFL coach of the year with the Saints.

Key players for the Tuskers include Odel Thurman and Jermaine Wiggins who are both from Georgia, and safety Dexter Jackson from Florida State. Former players from Oregon, USC, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Arkansas - among other teams - can be found on this roster.

The New York Sentinels. This team will be playing one game each at Giants Stadium and Citi Field. This team is owned by Bill Mayer, a private equity investor and former University of Maryland college of business dean. He also holds a BS and MBA from UM. The team will be coached by Ted Cottrell, who spent many years in the NFL with the Chargers, Bills, Jets and Vikings.

Key players on this team include Simeon Rice from Illinois, Craphonso Thorpe from Florida State, and Mo Fountain from Clemson (Nate Bennett is another Tiger on the team). The Sentinels also have players from schools such as UCLA, USC, Cal, and Texas Tech among others. 

The California Redwoods. This team will be playing out of AT&T Park in San Francisco for their three home games. This team is owned by Paul Pelosi, a California business man with degrees from Georgetown, NYU and Harvard. The team is coached by Dennis Green, the longtime NFL coach of the Vikings. Also on his staff is Martin Bayless, among others.

This team has key players in Maurice Crum from Notre Dame and Cory Ross from Nebraska. Players from Michigan, Auburn, Pittsburgh and Arizona are on this roster, as well. The Wildcats have five (yes, five) former players on this team.

So what will it do? Like I mentioned above, the league is doing several good things. But no matter what it does this first year, it is all about money. If this group of four owners can sustain this league for a few years to get it going, it has a chance. But if it dumps everything into year one, such as the XFL did, then it will go the way of the XFL, which was one and done. I would like to see a league such as this succeed where former good but not great college players can keep playing. We will just have to wait and see....But let's face it, the world is growing, people are reproducing all the time, and we just need more room for athletes to show their stuff. Maybe this will work.

And the season isn't long, either - just six games per team - so catch it now!

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