At the end of each pre-season, hundreds of players lose their jobs, for one reason or another, in order for teams to make their decisions on a final 53 person roster. Certain ones that don’t make the final roster will be placed on the practice squad. That still leaves many looking for work and the dream of being a professional football player either goes on hold or fades away completely. HEY TEAMS, since the average team in the league makes just about $2 billion anyway, and with injuries plaguing players of all shapes and sizes, why not make use of these men that would do anything for a chance?
This is an idea that’s not an overnight fix. There’s a lot of logistics that have to go behind it, among other things. Why not create a minor league system for each of the 32 NFL teams? Over the years, leagues have come and gone to try and provide football fans with an alternative to the National Football League. Most recently, there was the United Football League, which lasted four seasons from 2009-2012, where teams were located in areas of which the NFL had no presence. Before that, there was the XFL, which was co-owned by Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Federation and NBC Universal. The XFL lasted only one season. If you keep going back in history, you’ll remember the USFL, AFL (later merged with NFL), and the Arena Football League.
I could go on forever about the leagues that have come and gone by trying to compete with the NFL. Not enough financial backing is a big part of why these leagues have ceased to exist after only a few years. Roger Goodell and the owners of the NFL are always looking for more ways of making money. Expansion is one good way; however, that may only benefit a select few who go through the process in the short term as the rest of the teams do. But then, we run into the same cycle of the development and future of free agent athletes not gaining a job.
Here’s where my idea comes into play. As of this writing, there are 32 teams in the NFL. You don’t need to have several levels of a minor league system like other sports. There would be just one additional team per NFL franchise. So technically, there would be 64 teams under the NFL umbrella. Where would these teams go? In areas in which the NFL doesn’t have a franchise, occupying the area would be ideal along with it maybe being a big football area for High School or College. You could place a team in Oklahoma, Alabama, San Antonio, Memphis, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, or NEW JERSEY, and business would figuratively pick up big.
The biggest problem, other than finding locations, would be the players and coaches salaries. If this idea came through, and if the same 53 person roster were to be put into place, you would be putting an additional 1,696 players to work, as well as hundreds more in coaching as well as staff. What SHOULD the pay be? That’s to be determined. I’m of the opinion that NFL players get paid too little for what they put their bodies through. NFL players’ average careers aren’t long and should have the right to collect as much as they can. These guys, who would be in the minors, are no different.
The purpose behind this idea is depth for each of the teams. With injuries to big players like Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson, imagine what kind of injuries will happen during the course of a 16 game regular season as well as the post season! With an additional 53 people per NFL team, you could bring these guys in who are already conditioned or “football ready” by the time a team has the need for a position. And who says that these minor leagues would be just rookies? You could bring in veterans who still want to play or looking to make a comeback and the only cost to you would be their minor league salary until they get the chance to be called up.
The next question would be, “When do they play?” You can’t do it during the spring when these athletes would either be worn down by playing too much football in the winter. One idea is you could start this during pre-season. Have the minor league’s first game when the NFL pre-season begins and run through a 16 game season, which would end when the NFL is at week 12. What DAYS would this be played? Football between college and pro football is played from Thursday through Monday. For additional revenue you could play these games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. What networks would broadcast this if any? Why not take advantage of the TV deals you already have? For example, have a game on Fox Sports 1 and/or 2, NBCSN, and CBS Sports network among the other affiliated channels these stations have. It increases revenue for the NFL as well as the networks.
Look, is my idea perfect? Absolutely not! Is it a start? I think so. It cures people’s need for football, adds depth to teams with already conditioned athletes, accomidates the areas in which these teams would play get an NFL affiliate which will boost local economies, provides people jobs from players to coaches to the person working concessions, and most important to the league and networks, it makes THEM money. It’s a start and I’m sure they could bargain this during the next CBA negotiations. If you ask me; it’s a win, win, win!