The UFL Will Try The Impossible

Secondary football leagues have not exactly had the best track record. Back in the 1970s, the World Football League tried to survive by raiding the rosters of NFL teams but folded after less than two seasons. A decade later, the United States Football League played a spring schedule and was fairly popular until they made a move to go head-to-head with the NFL’s season and quietly went away.

They tried to play football indoors and overseas but they, too, went by the wayside (sans for what seems to be an endless list of minor league arena organizations). Even the Canadian Football League made a stab at incorporating American franchises but could not keep them afloat.

They will try it again with the brand new United Football League, which will commence their inaugural season with just four teams that will play some home games, some road games and many neutral site contests. A short eight-week schedule that includes the championship game begins on October 8 and includes weeknight matches.

The games will be held at legitimate stadiums with large capacities as opposed to D-3 colleges. That was the first hurdle and to legitimize the league even more, the clubs went out and signed former NFL names as head coaches and for the roster. While they may not exactly be household names, the real football fan will recognize many of them.

California Redwoods:

Head Coach – Dennis Green

Players – QB Mike McMahon, RB Cory Ross

Florida Tuskers:

Head Coach – Jim Haslett

RB Tatum Bell, LB Anthony Schlegel, TE Jermaine Wiggins, QB Brooks Bollinger, RB Michael Pittman, T Rob Petitti, P Todd Sauerbrun

Las Vegas Locomotives:

Head Coach – Jim Fassel

QB J.P. Losman, QB Tim Rattay, NT Wendell Bryant

New York Sentinels:

Head Coach – Ted Cottrell

DE Simeon Rice, WR Koren Robinson

During the premier season, the teams will wear identical uniforms with colors to differentiate one another. Next season, there will be a total redesign so each will be unique.

From the UFL website,

UFL Mission Statement:

“To fulfill the unmet needs of football fans in major markets currently underserved by professional football by providing a high quality traditional football league comprised of world class professional football players. The UFL will serve the communities with pride, dedication and passion, and uphold a leadership role in the development of football worldwide. The UFL will provide every fan with an affordable, accessible, exciting and entertaining game experience.”

When will UFL games be played?

The UFL will play in the fall, during traditional football season, to establish the league as a viable entity and will offer real, 11-on-11, outdoor professional football in NFL quality stadiums/venues. The UFL will play its regular season games on Thursday and Friday evenings in the fall, with the first regular season game kicking off in October and the Championship Game scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend.

Where will the UFL have teams?

In its “Premiere” season, the UFL will have four teams playing in seven cities.  The four teams selected for 2009 are Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and San Francisco.  The additional cities where games may be played include Hartford, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Where can I watch UFL games?

The United Football League announced that VERSUS, a national sports network in more than 75 million homes, will air the League’s “Premiere” season beginning in October 2009. VERSUS will air live weekly games beginning on Thursday, October 8, and continuing through the Championship Game scheduled to air Thanksgiving weekend. Each live telecast will be approximately three hours and all games will be produced and available in HD. The complete schedule will be announced this summer.

The United Football League also signed an exclusive deal with HDNet to broadcast coverage of five of the League’s “Premiere” Season games. HDNet will air weekly games beginning on Saturday, October 10th at 7:00pm Eastern.

Who will play and coach in the UFL?

The UFL will field teams comprised of the best players in the world and tomorrow’s rising stars. There are thousands of talented world class players who are looking to play professional football at a high level. The UFL will provide that opportunity.  Our “Premiere” Season Head Coaches include former NFL coaches Dennis Green, Jim Fassel, Jim Haslett and Ted Cottrell.

Why will the UFL work?

The UFL’s approach, rules and style of play will look and feel substantially similar to the NFL and will cater to those markets currently underserved by professional football. The UFL will assemble the best talent on the field, on the sidelines and in the league and team offices to ensure a credible, high-quality product that is accessible and affordable for fans.

Who is behind the UFL?

The executives behind the UFL are experienced NFL franchise builders.  Commissioner Michael Huyghue has over 20 years of NFL management experience and is considered the architect in establishing the Jacksonville Jaguars as the winningest franchise of the NFL within a five-year span in his role as the team’s Senior Vice President of Football Operations. While with the NFL, Commissioner Huyghue served on several of the NFL Commissioner’s prominent committees, including NFL Management Council, the Executive Working Group Committee, the NFL College Advisory Committee, the NFL Europe League and as a Trustee of the NFL Players Insurance Trust.  Prior to joining the UFL, Huyghue was CEO/Founder of Axcess Sports & Entertainment, where he represented a number of NFL, NBA and PGA Tour players. The League’s COO is Frank Vuono who significantly expanded the scope of NFL Properties as its Vice President of Retail Licensing, has consulted for over 15 NFL teams and was personally hired by the NFL Commissioner’s office to assist the Saints during the team’s post-Katrina return to New Orleans.  A co-founder of Integrated Sports International, the NFL Quarterback Club and its successor NFL Quarterback Greats, and most recently 16W Marketing LLC., Vuono was also instrumental in negotiating some of the largest naming rights agreements in all of professional sports and as president of marketing for SFX Sports represented hundreds of pro athletes including current 16W Marketing clients Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason. The UFL also has hired a number of former senior NFL executives to oversee team and league operations. Investors in the UFL include Bill Hambrecht, Chairman and CEO of WR Hambrecht + Co.; Tim Armstrong, Chairman & CEO, AOL; Paul Pelosi, President of FLS, Inc. and a consortium of others.

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