Oh look, someone is trying to start their own spring football league. It will almost certainly go well, no doubt in my mind based on all of the great success that every other minor league football league has had in the past.
Honestly, I think there are worse ideas than a spring football league, but it has to be done right, here’s how that could be done.
The NFL has to be on board
If the NFL isn’t backing it, it’s going to fail after two years, you need money, and just because American’s love football doesn’t mean they are going to flock to see any and all kinds of it.
If the NFL backs it, that allows players on practice squads or undrafted players to get real game experience, while under the NFL umbrella, allowing rosters and talent to be deeper overall.
It also gives the potential league a sense of legitimacy, and doesn’t come off as some fly by night operation that looks shady as all heck. If every team kicked in $1 million for this thing, it would hardly be a drop in the bucket of their profits and would help develop talent so much better.
My idea for this would be an eight team league, one team for each division, and make up the rosters mainly with the practice squad players from those teams and then whatever free agents you want.
Of course the NFL will never do this because anything that doesn’t make them money hand over fist isn’t worth considering.
Play in the spring
Basically, make it last as long as the NHL Playoffs, say it’s 8 to 10 games and then two playoff games, so roughly a 10 to 12 week season. Start in March and end it in early June so players have a chance to sign on with NFL teams before training camp opens.
Play in established pro football markets
Every time someone starts up one of these alphabet soup leagues, they play in Shreveport or Memphis or Birmingham, basically places that have a fairly large population but no “big league” pro sports.
If those teams wanted football or big time sports, they would have it, so stop flocking to them for these start up leagues.
Play in actual cities with football. If the NFL practice squad league was a thing, you could play an 8-game schedule and play a “home” game in each of the four cities in the division.
Pay the damn players
Every minor league currently is basically a place where guys go make a few hundred bucks for a handful of games, make it worth these guys’ while to play in this.
I’m not saying you have to hand out million dollar contracts, but make it enough so they can live for a year for sacrificing their body to play.
You do that, and the talent level and interest in the league grows a ton.
Most importantly, make it gimmicky has hell, try new things
I’m not saying you have to go full XFL and make it a circus, but the league should also serve as an experimental league for the NFL, where you test out potential things you’d like to see the NFL adopt or that the NFL could learn from and either make rule changes, or find out it was a disaster.
Wider hashmarks, narrower goal posts, no fair catches, kickoffs through the uprights for 1-point, reviewing pass interference calls. Anything and everything that COULD be an actual rule is in play in this league.
You have to have something to draw fans in, and watching fringe roster guys attempt to play normal football is not enough.
There’s a reason every league that isn’t indoor/arena football has failed. Look at Arena Football, it has existed in some form or league for more than 30 years, and that’s because they play on a hockey rink, score a billion points, and in the AFL have giant nets behind the end zone so that all kicks and Hail Mary plays have excitement.
So that’s it. None of this will probably happen, but if somebody out there does wan to try and make minor league or spring football work, this would be a good place to start.