Dreams - The Game
The mutual admiration society that Cian over at fuhbaw and I have formed shouldn't really be a secret to anyone who reads either one of our blogs. Still, it's fun to find that there are still things on which we disagree. So, while I certainly agree with his dissection of why alternative professional football leagues have failed to draw any of the NFL's audience, I'm not sure I'm on board with his assertion that the premise of the UFL, that there is simply too much talent on NFL sidelines for an alternative league to NOT exist, is one that leads to a failed product.
Certianly there are parellels to be drawn to leagues such as the USFL and the XFL, but both of those leagues were different in spirit. The USFL was built to steal talent away from the NFL, something that the UFL seems to have admited is impossible. The XFL, on the other hand, was designed to create a NEW football audience while drawing from the old one, which is a perfect example of pleasing nobody by trying to please everybody. Here, however, the UFL is pointing out that, with the loss of NFL Europe and NFL rosters shrinking, there may be untapped talent eager for a stage on which they can perform.
This directly applies to who Cian refers to as the "discarded fruits of Roger Goodell's stringent Personal Conduct Policy." Looking at players like Adam Jones, Michael Vick, and possibly soo Matt Jones, all of whom are repeat violators of the policy but also singular talents in the football world, one has to wonder whether the UFL might be the perfect landing spot for them. Cian shows that extending them a shot could immediately draw the league's credibility into question, which could be fatal for an already risky proposition. He's not wrong either; making these players the cornerstones of the UFL is at best, incredibly dangerous and at worst, foolish. Still, in my opinion, if the league is going to remain honest to its fans (in this case, those hoping to see it succeed) and its essential thesis, it has no choice but to offer these players the chance to show that wild talents exist outside of the NFL's increasingly narrow scope (check the list of unemployed QBs if that doesn't make sense). Because bringing them in, even if it means that the UFL will have to work harder and harder to downplay their status to avoid them becoming the sole faces of the league (at first, anyway), is the only way to make sure that the league can build upo the core it claims that it wants.
My point is that it doesn't work if the UFL only makes successes out of ignored players, because their very typecasting as ignored NFL players means that fans will do to them exactly what they're already doing: Not paying attention. But a player like Vick or, to a lesser extent, the Joneses draws attention because these are not ignored players, whose talent is questioned, but rather players forced out IN SPITE OF their talent. And when their presence draws fans, then the play of a league of Troy Smiths (FREE TROY SMITH), Adrian Arringtons, JP Losmans, and other talents who can't seem to find a team willing to break rank and experiment with wild risks for potentially wild talents, will get recognition. Then, the league gets to survive or die based on just what kind of quality of play that produces, which is all any league could ask for. It's ultimately a question of which is the cart and which is the horse: Credibility or talent. Reasonable minds disagree, but in this case, I'm happy to unreasonably hope for a field for unreasonable risk.