New fall developmental league wants to springboard players to NFL
The Fall Experimental Football League will feature six teams, a 40-man roster for each and six games per season.
An interesting idea, one that's been debated probably since the demise of NFL Europe and/or the XFL, will come to fruition this fall when the Fall Experimental Football League will be launched.
It will feature six teams, a 40-man roster for each, six games per season, and $1,000 per week for each player. But most importantly, the league wants to serve as a stepping stone for those who feel they belong in the NFL.
According to the Associated Press, it won't have any NFL affiliation, but like the best independent baseball leagues, that doesn't mean that its athletes can't, at some point, make it to the biggest stage.
But maybe not for place-kickers. That's because one idea with this league is to eliminate the kicking game. Meaning no kickoff or punt returns and no extra points (a 2-point conversion would be required after a touchdown).
Either way, Brian Woods, the FXFL commissioner, wants to try something new.
"Given the current Division I landscape in football and the collective bargaining agreement the NFL has with the union, there is more than ever a need for another platform out there," Woods told the AP. "A platform like for basketball and baseball players.
"Pro football has nothing. The NFL has the practice squad, but it does not develop players because they don't get into games. You don't develop if you aren't getting on the field."
The cities that will be represented in the FXFL: the New York area, the Boston area, Austin (which will be partially-owned by three-time Pro Bowler Tommie Harris), Portland, Omaha, and somewhere in Florida.
"Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL, and we feel can do that on many platforms," Woods said. "It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don't currently have. We can help them train prospective NFL officials -- in the NBA, every referee entering the league [in recent years] comes from NBA Developmental League.
"We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too."
And for college underclassmen who aren't eligible to play in the NCAA.
More from the AP:
Mainly, the core of FXFL players will be no more than two years removed from their college careers, with the majority coming from that year's draft class. That would include players cut in training camp or those who never even got a look from the NFL.
That approach would not impact the NCAA, and the league says it won't actively recruit players who are still enrolled. But Woods explains that some players could come from the ranks the NFL doesn't touch.
"We are not ruling out the possibility of working with players who have hardships," he said. "We'll look at it on case-by-case basis. There might even be a situation for a player right out of high school who might not want to go to college."
Games will be played on weeknights, mostly on Wednesday.
"This league will provide the opportunity for players who otherwise might not get it," said Eric Bassey, the other co-owner of the Austin franchise. "There's those 100-150 players who don't get drafted and this would be a perfect opportunity for them. We're talking about extremely good athletes, and we will set up a platform for those guys to get an opportunity to prove themselves.
"Sometimes they are not ready to play at that pace of the NFL when they get out of school. Maybe they just need that one year or two years that we can provide."
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