It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Some blunt advice about what the XFL can take away from the AAF’s early demise:

The XFL would be better off shutting things down now and just accepting that a second pro football league will NEVER work.

The XFL 2.0, like the AAF and the original XFL before it, is destined to fail. It does not matter how well things are planned out, there just isn’t a demand for a second professional sports league of any kind — regardless of the sport. The NFL, along with college football, is more than enough for football fans.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last fifty years, is that there’s not enough of an appetite for spring football to support a professional league.

I tried to snark about that yesterday when I noted that the AAF’s death was good news for the NCAA and schools, but I’m not sure everyone got my point.  So let’s try that another way:  for those of you who claim it should be easy to provide high school football players who don’t want to go the college route with a professional outlet, how’s that working out for you now?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

20 responses to “It seemed like a good idea at the time.

  1. The suits in the NFL offices on Park Avenue have to laugh every time some delusional, rich idiot comes up with the idea of another professional football league. First, no one can compete with the NFL on its turf … the fall. Notice the NFL doesn’t try to compete with the colleges on Saturdays (and it’s not because they wouldn’t want to play on Saturdays). Second, the market has shown no one is interested in spring football. If there was this groundswell of pent-up demand for professional football, the NFL owners would have figured out a way to tap into it either through continued expansion or a second league.


  2. Dave

    I’m not saying there is a big demand for a second league, per se. However, I think the main reason it won’t work is because football is far too expensive and physically demanding, among other things.

    If professional lacrosse can exist with its attendance, which from what I can tell is significantly lower than the AAF, then it boils down to other expenses, salaries, etc.

    You’re just not going to get enough good football players to commit to the time, risk, etc. requirements for $18k a year.


    • There’s one league that has made it outside the fall … the CFL. You would think if the CFL could figure out a way to expand into the US successfully, they would have done it already. Sure, they play a very different game than we are used to, but the fact the CFL hasn’t even attempted expansion into places like Minneapolis, Buffalo, Detroit, Milwaukee, or Seattle should speak volumes for their perception of US demand for professional football outside the traditional season.


      • The Dawg abides

        They actually had a team in Birmingham for a couple of years, I believe.


        • I don’t remember that, but that wouldn’t make sense. I would have thought they would have tried expansion close to the border to keep travel cost down for existing teams to test whether the American fan would embrace it rather than going to a market that the NFL didn’t want.


          • TomReagan

            They had US expansion for a couple of years in the mid 90s. No border teams. They had a successful franchise in Baltimore and were also in Memphis, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Shreveport, Birmingham, and San Antonio.


  3. JasonC

    After watching Last Week Tonight’s piece on WWE and Vince McMahon, I hope a league by that jerk fails every time.


  4. Derek

    The USFL was doing ok until someone (who?) decided it would be best to go head to head with the NFL and move the schedule to the fall.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Texas Dawg

    The NFL has no incentive for a developmental league as long as colleges continue to do it for them. Without the NFL’s backing a second league is unlikely to survive (hence the AAF seeking an agreement with the NFL). If ALL incoming students INCLUDING athletes had to meet the same academic standards, there would be a NFL supported league in the works tomorrow.


    • Athletes in non-revenue sports don’t have to meet university admission requirements, so why should potential professional football or men’s basketball players. Why is it that universities need to raise their standards for admission of students all of sudden? What has changed now?


      • Texas Dawg

        I reread my post just to make sure that I had not implied in any way, shape, or form that non revenue sport athletes were any different or should be treated differently. I’m pretty damn sure I said ALL incoming students as in athletes and non athletes. The subject was the AAF and it’s survivabily hence I did not reference lacrosse or water polo or women’s track but I’m quite sure that “ALL STUDENTS INCLUDING ATHLETES” encompasses them as well. Here in Texas, if you are not in the top 10% of your class you can forget admission to UT or TAMU UNLESS you are an athlete (or contribute mega $$$ to a tennis coach). If you can not make the cut academically you should not be there period. Get rid of the “Underwater Basket Weaving” degrees that were created just to have a place to park “student athletes” who had no business in college in the first place. College is first and foremost an academic institution of higher learning. All the other activities are and should be secondary to it’s mission. When you have graduates that have trouble spelling CAT after you have spotted them the C and the A but got admitted because the could run a 4.3 40, that makes a mockery of why college exists.


        • That boat sailed long ago.


        • ASEF

          Athletes are required to meet the same standards – as other schools. SEC and ACC schools won’t take partial qualifiers, for example.

          I’ve never met a P5 athlete who wasn’t fully capable of college level work, even flagship level. But their course work is on top of a 40 hour work week. And a lot of them do not come into research academic environments with a familiarity of some of the really odd conventions of research academia.

          I have no issue with admitting exceptional athletes who might start with an academic deficit. But acknowledge the deficit and educate them. Don’t move the finish line. And give them time and space to experience that education rather than treating them as cogs in a machine designed to get their coach and AD lottery paydays.


  6. Rchris

    It’s still an open question whether a spring football professional league could succeed. But to open another front: If the NCAA can succeed and not a professional league, are you saying that the name on the front of the jersey is what’s important?


  7. TomReagan

    Someone needs to tell that guy about minor league baseball.


    • Reverend Whitewall

      Not an apples-to-apples comparison at all. The player salaries for minor league teams are paid by the parent MLB franchise, not by the local owners of the minor league baseball team. So only labor costs are a small front office and whatever concessions/ushers on game day. Then minor league baseball teams play about 140 games a year, so that’s 70 home games to sell tickets, concessions, etc to make money. Plus most owners of those minor league teams own their stadiums so they can make money renting it out for various other functions.

      These upstart football leagues bear all the salary costs, and play usually 10 games a year – so any given franchise basically has 5 games to sell tickets, concessions, etc. And they’re playing in stadiums they don’t own, so they’re paying rent with no other further revenue opportunities from the venue itself. Not much opportunity to make money.

      Without a parent subsidy (Like MLB does for minor league baseball, or NBA does for G League), there’s no financially viable way to make it work. Television isn’t gonna give you enough money, as evidenced by the AAF. But it’ll be interesting to see how many more super rich guys decide to throw away $100 million or so thinking they can buck the odds. McMahon is next on the list, and the same that happened to the first XFL will happen to the 2nd one.


  8. DawgPhan

    Something is off with the AAF. They needed huge cash infusion just to stay open after the first week of games. They couldnt have been that off on their cashburn could they? And surely they didnt think that the first week of games was going to generate $200million in cash flow?

    But some rich people lost money so that seems like a win.