Why doesn’t the NFL have a minor league?
3 of the 4 major North American sports leagues have minor leagues. The MLB has multiple leagues that all develop players for them. The NHL has a few leagues that let player play without the spotlight, and practice. The NBA has the G league, which allows players the chance to refine their game.
So what about the National Football League?
Well the NFL has money and options to have a developmental league, but the history doesn’t exactly show very good results. In the late 90’s and 2000’s, they employed NFL Europe to develop players that weren’t good enough to make the league on their first try. While a few notable players like Kurt Warner and Adam Vinatieri made it into North America, most never really made an impact in their careers outside of Europe.
But it was a success in the sense that many players did make it through , and kept playing professional. The league also experienced minor successes in Europe, and a few popular teams were even able to make it to the new European League of Football. However players who hadn’t been able to make it to the NFL no longer had a great option.
A few Indoor football leagues exist and have provided secondary options for years. However the arena game is far different from the true gridiron game played by the NFL. The closest chance a player has to playing for a pro team if they don’t make a 53 man roster has long been the practice squad. However most practice squad guys will not make an impact in the NFL. They do not get real game time experience, and oftentimes if they make a 53 man roster, they don’t get past the second string.
So what are the NFL’s options if they wanted a developmental league?
If they wanted to have a minor league, the National Football League has options, and money, to get themselves one. The XFL has shown a willingness to partner with the NFL, as they already have. Who’s to say that they won’t go further with this partnership? The XFL willingly markets itself as the “second chance” for players who have been cut from the NFL, so it’s not entirely out of the question.
The USFL also exists, and has players in similar situations to the XFL. National Football League castoffs have made their way to this league, and these guys also want a second chance to show off their football skills to the world.
Is it viable or necessary for the NFL to have a minor league?
A minor league for the NFL may not even be needed, as athletic ability of a football player may only last for roughly 10 years after college. If a player doesn’t make it immediately, they have very little time left to prove that they are worth it, and that player won’t have as much time to play. However, if cut from the NFL altogether, a minor league would give that player a second chance to either prove their worth or just keep playing the game.
As well, having tape of a player previously ignored is a serious advantage of these spring leagues, and if partnered with the NFL, the players would be benefited with extra scouting reports and perhaps even some specific training film.
So what would the football world look like with a minor league?
The football world wouldn’t be drastically changed with the introduction of a minor league. The spring leagues already exist and even if they do not join the NFL, they are still going to play regardless. However putting a player on a two-way contract to go develop with game time in spring and then reporting back to the NFL team could be a possible idea. Giving players a second chance is the main goal of these leagues, and a minor league system would only make it easier on players, GM’s, and fans.
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