CFL threat? New spring football league has big-name backers

Here we go again

Pro football – actual games – won’t disappear from TV screens, mobile devices and the American consciousness once the Super Bowl ends next February.
The Alliance of American Football will kick off the following Sunday. On network television (CBS) as well as through a multitude of free digital platforms.

The league will have eight teams – cities and stadia to be announced, though look for complementary sites, not NFL venues, and warmer climates given the February-late April schedule. Rosters will be culled from NFL cuts to the 53-man maximum after preseason, which Polian calls “the core of our constituency?; collegians who have gone undrafted, including underclassmen who have lost any remaining eligibility; players looking to return to the sport; and free agents from the CFL or elsewhere.


Oh well...

Haven't we seen this movie before? WFL, USFL, XFL. Wake me when it fails.

Just saw this and commented on the other sports section too.

It looks like more of an XFL threat

Starting play after the Super bowl (though launch a year earlier)
Shorter games - aiming for 2.5 hours
8 teams in TBA locations - single entity ownership.
Safer game - No kickoffs/No 3 point stants
Mandatory 2 PATs.

All Mr. McMahon's ideas from his first and proposes second attempt.

Difference this league has a major broadcast partner....a current NFL one.

The seasons is early enough in the year, it won't impact the CFL much, if at all.

The XFL was ahead of its time.

FB was still pretty brutal back then.

Now that they practically have the Offensive players wearing skirts, there would be a market for a slobber knocker league imo.

Celtic Football, just for the ladies

finally that age old question will be answered

I saw a special once on football in American Prisons and the prisoners played a game called Rough Touch in which there was blocking and you could push a guy down hard using 2 open hands. The prisoners were very well practiced at the techniques and, at least as a one-off, the game was surprisingly entertaining.

I don't know if such a thing would draw consistent viewers to the TV screen (it probably would not), but I have no trouble with some of the changes that Polian and company are planning.

I think the USFL would still be here today if Donald Trump hadn't gotten involved with it, and I am one of those fans that would love to see a successful spring time football league start and succeed. I hope either Vince McMahon's new XFL or this new league (or both! lol! both is not likely) are big successes.

The games will be played in American cities so it shouldn't harm the CFL at all. People down here sadly don't care much about the CFL, except there is a small flicker of increased interest at Grey Cup time.

I view the lack of American interest in the CFL more as the CFL's seeming reluctance to reach out and try to grow fandom in the USA, rather than any intrinsic dislike of the CFL's somewhat different game. I think the CFL is afraid of backlash from it's Canadian fanbase and would actually like to expand or at least appeal to the USA. They are businessmen and in it to make money if they can. A well executed idea for appealing to the USA's fans is NOT going to fall on deaf ears.

With the right approach the CFL could build interest down here. So far the two biggest moves on that front have been poorly planned (TV on NBC* in the 1950's by the then "Big Four", the Eastern teams, when the American fans tired of repeated Tiger-Cat, Argo, Alouette and Rough Rider matchups) and the 1990's when the CFL went about it's very ill-conceived USA expansion to mostly Southern cities with no affinity for the CFL at all.

(*BTW, the CFL has 6 point touchdowns rather than the original and traditional 5 point due to the demands of NBC in the 1950's to make the scores align better with what American fans were used to.)

IF the CFL expanded, slowly and carefully this time, in America in border states only, places close to Canada (and that were at least possibly exposed to Canadian media be it TV or even radio), it could succeed in getting a foothold and growing some interest down here. To combat the ratio issue, each American team could have to field an equivalent # of Division III or lower (Community college or NAIA) players as the Canadian clubs have to field Canadians.

Someone's creating employment opportunities. Nothing wrong with that. Players will love it from those bidding wars for talent that evolve.

On the other hand, year-round football might get tiring for the masses. The networks/cable outlets are saturated by it.

I could never understand why the Canadian Federal government (I guess that's what you call it) blocked the WFL from going into Canada. If Canadians want 11-man ball, then why is the government blocking that? Let the fans vote with their wallets on who stays and who goes.

Did the Canadian Federal government block Simon Fraser from leaving CIS to become 11-man NCAA?

Will there be any XFL/Alliance league teams based in Canada?

I don't see a threat to the CFL at all in this case.

Totally false!

The league owners were losing their shirts BEFORE Trump purchased the Generals. Only Tampa Bay, Denver and Oakland had prospects to stay out of the red. The entry fees charged for new teams in 1984 were to recoup losses in the 1983 season.

Trump added pizzaz during the offseason and kept it going with his publicity and willingness to spent money he already had but at a loss he could easily sustain.

Also, the ownership groups VOTED in a majority rule to move to the fall. The USFL won their lawsuit too. It was ingenious to break into fall football and dethrone the NFL monopoly.

The USFL would have only been small potatoes if the owners could keep to their agreed upon salary cap in 1983, but they didn't . That was long before Trump came into the league. You can't lose that kind of money forever.

All of this information is in the book "The One Dollar League: Rise and Fall of the United States Football League".

Perpetuating a myth that Donald Trump ruined the USFL does not help anyone.

I will get a copy of that book and read it. After I've read it, and re-viewed the USFL 30 for 30 special I will give my thoughts on Trump. I want to be sure I am well informed about what my memory tells me re: Trump versus what actually happened back then.

My memory of the league is that I and a lot of people I knew and also strangers I saw out at bars watched it, talked about it, and enjoyed it and wanted it to keep going. I felt based on personal (and admittedly local) experience that it was popular, but of course (as you have indirectly pointed out above) I was not writing the paychecks and the checks for travel expenses and counting the gate (or lack of same) or monitoring the TV Ratings and money. Perhaps the USFL was ill-fated from the very start as you say. Perhaps (almost certainly, upon consideration) the level of interest I personally experienced wasn't being replicated across the country.

I do believe that a Spring Football league can succeed. I believe the fan interest for a well executed plan and product is out there, just waiting to be properly tapped. Whether or not it is of NFL caliber is of no concern to me. It can be "Small Potatoes". Probably be fiscally smarter and more economical if it was. Loads of people in the USA attend other levels of football below that of the NFL in Great numbers and with great fervor and interest. D-1A, D-1AA (or FBS & FCS if you prefer.) D-II D-III as well as NAIA and community college football and High School ball too.

EDITED at 7:59 Pacific Daylight Time 3-20-2018

I think the main concert about additional football leagues, regardless of when they play, is whether or not they will compete for talent with equal or better pay.

Well this is fine insight, though it's not to be overlooked that the team in Tampa Bay, the Bandits, was owned by Canadian John Bassett. The Wiki entry has some more information, but the ESPN documentary on the USFL discussed more about how Bassett countered Trump's wild ambition to take on the NFL only to lose his battle with cancer.

It remains to be wondered how much more influence Bassett could have had in the spring of 1986 on the other owners if he had been healthy.

There are some great takes on the subject and then some in the ESPN 30 for 30: "Who Killed the USFL?"

Bear in mind that Trump is interviewed in the documentary as produced and aired before 2015, when Trump went on to other things that we hear about now day in and day out. ::slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue: :o

I think where the USFL went wrong was in trying to compete up front with the NFL for high profile players such as Flutie and Walker.

However, that was probably good for the CFL because they could have just went after the best CFL talent offering just somewhat more than the CFL teams could afford.

Cali Eagle and all, I myself wish the NFL would widen its playing field to 60 yards so as to make up for the bigger and faster players over decades.

I would also be for lengthening the NFL field to 110 yards and moving back the goal posts, but no way that's going to happen as the NFL already has begun its mission to eliminate kickoffs altogether. :-\

The NFL game has a lot of weak points that I think a new well conceived Spring football league could successfully challenge. The biggest one in my mind (besides the total perversion of the replay system and what constitutes a legally caught football) is that there is 11 to 17 minutes of on field action in a 60 minute game (depending on who's survey or count you use.) That game can take over 3 hours to broadcast. Long media timeouts for the people that paid good money for a ticket and lots & lots of commercials for the people watching on TV at home. That's just one area I would attack if I were in charge of a new Spring League effort.

Your point that todays players are much larger and faster than those of decades ago is very well taken also. The CFL field is wider and longer and that's a point in it's favor. With all the new stadia in the NFL, I don't know how many have room for longer or wider fields. The field is 53-1/3 by 100 yards + 10 yards on each end for end zones. An American field has those dimensions because waaaaaay back when Harvard was King of the American Football game, it's new stadium (still in use today) could accommodate that size and no more. So everyone else adopted those dimensions.

I don't know what CFL thought is on kickoffs (I love the single point play on kickoffs and punts, the Rouge.) I wish American football would adopt it as an incentive to kick for touchbacks. But I think as time passes and their is more concern about concussions and CTE the kickoff in American football is probably doomed. I am in favor of it remaining, personally.

I do like or at least am open minded about the changes that Polian and company are considering and hope this new league succeeds in the States without causing any harm in the process to the CFL. I think there are plenty of good enough players around to provide good quality football at CFL, NFL and a new spring league.

As I understand it, the argument was that the 3 down game is a unique part of Canadian culture, and blocking the WFL from operating in Canada was seen as protecting part of our culture.

Bassett owned one of the three teams out of twelve teams that was in the black. He believed in the spring concept because his team was making it. You can't have a league of just three teams.

He was out-voted in the move to the fall whether we was Canadian and had cancer or not. His nationality and health had no bearing on the vote.

His entire payroll equaled Herschel Walker. It was small potatoes. The fans would not support the league in sufficient numbers with marque players.

Are you forgetting the WLAF did the very concept you proposed? It did not last because more money went out than in.

I just seen the rosters. QB s that could not make the CFL, it is a joke like every other fake league that comes along.

Well said.

Oh yes he was outvoted, but it's not just my contention in looking at the matter, as did the documentary, that it was because he did not have the drive to influence the other owners and to take on Trump as well as he could have done if not in ill health.

I disagree entirely, as does the documentary, with any contention such as yours that his ill health would not have impaired him to some degree.

If you have known anyone diagnosed with a fatal disease, understandably far more is on their mind that whatever would be on their minds on an average day before diagnosis. I don't agree that very fact should be ignored, and it was salient in this case.

I pointed out his nationality only for informational purposes otherwise of course.

You make a fine point with regards to his payroll, but on the other hand Trump with only his usual leverage was able to afford such a player and others from the NFL for a bloated payroll. What if the league had had a salary cap? It never made it far enough for there to be such a discussion.

We don't know whether or not the league would have succeeded without Trump weighing in so dominantly anyway, but my point is that Bassett's voice from a standpoint of some success was not and could not be fully heard when he was in such an ill state as the discussions took place.

Reading this post again, it looks like you are solidly in team Trump with regards to his antics in his time in the USFL when otherwise there has been and is plenty of contention on some of your opinions expressed as fact as if they are not even the subject of continued debate.

Many who have preceded me say the debate on about half your points above still lives and will continue to do so. The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the matter, with Trump interviewed, speaks volumes.

You commend Trump so highly for taking on the NFL for example, and gee, how did that turn out?

In retrospect that was not the best move. Trump so dominated the dialogue with the owners and with his bloated ego (not a political opinion for any who have watched and heard Trump well before 2015) with no strong opposition from an ill John Bassett that of course now we will never know what alternative approach, including not taking on the NFL, might have worked.