The UFL is back in business, and on CBS Sports Network no less, and as was the case in the past, the league could serve as a conduit to getting players and coaches back to the NFL.
I was glad to hear that Bobby DePaul, most recently a personnel executive with the Chicago Bears who had a strong hand in their rise to Super Bowl XLI, will be working in a dual capacity for the Sacramento team.
It's a unique arrangement befitting a uniquely qualified individual (DePaul also has a deep coaching background), and I was shocked that no NFL team had him in their employ for 2012 given his résumé and years in the game.
DePaul will coach linebackers for the Sacramento Mountain Lions, and also serve as the team's player personnel director. Not sure how many people have worn both hats at the same time before, but he has the chops to pull it off.
DePaul is best known for his nine years in Chicago as the Bears' senior director of pro personnel. He was instrumental in building three division championship teams, including the 2006 NFC championship team. The Bears were coming off a three-year run among the worst teams in the NFL when DePaul was hired in 2001 to evaluate players in all ranks of professional football, assist with salary cap maintenance and contract negotiations and manage the advance scouting of opponents.
He was the arcitecht of the Jay Cutler trade and found bargain free agents like Thomas Jones and Robbie Gould. DePaul also had a hand in the rise of coaches like Ron Rivera and Dave Toub, and also helped design and implement football systems technology that remains at the vanguard of the game.
But in his 22 years in the NFL he also served as Joe Gibbs' right hand man in Washington, was a coach for the Bengals and served in personnel for the Eagles and Bears. In one decade as a personnel boss, he worked with three coaches who won four NFL Coach of the Year honors -- Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith and Andy Reid (twice) -- and two winners of special teams Coach of the Year honors, John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Toub in Chicago.
In short, this is someone who I figured would have been running an NFL personnel department, but in a league where younger (and cheaper, and more malleable) seems to be all the rage, perhaps a stint in the UFL can be a springboard. I would have thought longtime personnel men like John Hand and Bill Kuharic would have landed back in the league by now as well, and ditto even younger former execs like ex-Broncos GM Brian Xanders, who has an eclectic résumé, too.
There are too many front offices that struggle to compete not to exhaust all options to put good evaluators in positions to make decisions. Hopefully some of these guys will land back in the NFL sooner rather than later, and the UFL could be a solid alternative for many until or unless that day comes.