Monday, May 12, 2014

The Mystique of Other Professional American Football Leagues

The Mystique of Other Professional American Football Leagues

By Chino Kafuu
The Daily Magi
November 12, 2069

Minor professional leagues such as the original United Football League, Atlantic Coast Football League, Seaboard Football League and Continental Football League existed in abundance in the 1960s and early 1970s, to varying degrees of success.

Several other professional football leagues have been formed since the AFL-NFL merger, though none have had the success of the AFL. In 1974, the World Football League formed and was able to attract such stars as Larry Csonka away from the NFL with lucrative contracts. However, most of the WFL franchises were insolvent and the league folded in 1975; the Memphis Southmen, the team that had signed Csonka and the most financially stable of the teams, unsuccessfully sued to join the NFL. The American Football Association formed as a continuation of the WFL's legacy in 1978, albeit on a much lower pay scale. That league lasted until 1982.

In 1982, the United States Football League formed as a spring league, and enjoyed moderate success during its first two seasons behind such stars as Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker. It moved its schedule to the fall in 1985, and tried to compete with the NFL directly, but it was unable to do so and folded, despite winning an anti-trust suit against the older league.

The NFL founded a developmental league known as the World League of American Football with teams based in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The WLAF ran for two years, from 1991 to 1992. The league went on a two-year hiatus before reorganizing as NFL Europe in 1995, with teams only in European cities. The name of the league was changed to NFL Europa in 2006. After the 2007 season, the NFL announced that it was closing down the league to focus its international marketing efforts in other ways, such as playing NFL regular season games in cities outside of the U.S.

Short-lived leagues such as the Regional Football League and Spring Football League formed in the wake of the dot-com boom but evaporated in short order after the boom ended.

In 2001, the XFL was formed as a joint venture between the World Wrestling Federation and the NBC television network. It folded after one season in the face of rapidly declining fan interest and a poor reputation. However, XFL stars such as Tommy Maddox and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart later saw success in the NFL.

The United Football League was a four-team fully professional league which played its first season in October–November 2009. Involved in this league are Mark Cuban, media mogul and owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks and William Hambrecht, a prominent Wall Street investor. The UFL has been beset with numerous financial problems, some of which stem from weak financial backing and an inability to get widespread national television coverage. The league never started a planned fourth season; after several lawsuits by former players and coaches to recover unpaid salaries, all remaining teams had folded and shut down their offices by March 2013.

The Stars Football League was a primarily Florida-based regional professional minor league that began play in 2011 until 2013. Its two seasons to date, both only six weeks long, have been marked by extremely sparse attendance and little public visibility, but it has managed to send at least two players to NFL rosters.

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