The most important thing to remember about a professional developmental football league isn’t this…
Why is it likely to get off the ground? Vincent, who recently became the NFL’s head of football operations, cites a bunch of reasons, from training coaches and officials to finding players to testing rules.
“It would be an opportunity to enhance our game on many levels, to develop the future, preserve and innovate the game,” he said.
Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based consulting firm, has a strong relationship with many team owners. He envisions a league being established for spring play, with all of the teams supplying players they want to see more from.
“After the NFL season and before the training camps, say March to July,” Ganis said. “It’s an open time in the sports schedule. The colleges are done and the NBA and NHL playoffs wind down.
“A league in the fall is really tough. It is not like baseball, where teams can be calling up players every day from the minors. There would be lots of restrictions on player movement then.”
“I do envision some sort of developmental league, based maybe in Florida or Texas or Arizona,” said former NFL general manager Phil Savage, who now is the executive director of the Senior Bowl. “Anywhere from four to six teams; I don’t think more than eight.
“I see it as tightly managed, with not a ton of travel. And I don’t think it would matter the size of the stadiums and crowds, because it’s a minor league, a place to look at players from the lower end of the roster or players trying to make it into the NFL.”
or even this…
“The networks have open time in the spring, and it’s an NFL product. There would be room on the networks for games on the weekend, and on the cable outlets for weeknights,” he said. “There’s really a dearth of major sports on the weekends then.
“I think you would see all the networks with cable channels — CBS, Fox, NBC, and of course NFL Network — to be interested. And ESPN would likely want in on the mix, although they need it the least.”
It’s that it would be an NFL-created enterprise. Which means it would exist to serve the needs of the NFL and the NFL alone. Which means this:
Tomlin is right that the NFL relies on the college game for developing the skills of potential pro players. That won’t change but, as the number of undrafted free agents who populate NFL rosters shows — 31.4 percent in 2014 — there are hundreds of players who would benefit from having a place to showcase themselves if the NFL doesn’t come calling.
Just a place to collect undrafted juniors. Thanks, college football!