If you're a diehard, taking off work for Super Bowl, bleed team colors football fan, then Merry Christmas early, I guess. If you've been turned off by the antics of the NFL lately, however, you have every right to stop reading this story......I'm kidding! Please read on!
The NFL came out on Thursday and announced to all 32 teams that there would be a 4 team spring league to help develop free agents. The league, which would help players get NFL contracts, looks to have a training camp in Florida from April 5 to the 26th, and play a total of six games. The league will be run by an independent organization, separate from the NFL. There have been conflicting reports on whether it's veteran free agents looking to join a team, or young guys who weren't drafted or released from a contract early. The league will also seek to develop refs during this spring session.
Now I'm a football fan, my team being the Detroit Lions and all. I'm all for helping develop skills for free agents, regardless of veteran or young, and with how the officiating has been this season (if you haven't been watching, you're lucky. It's brutal.), they need all the help they can get. But I'm not interested in this NFL spring league.
Now granted, with a huge decrease in viewership this season, and players like Justin Forsett have been stuck in free agency limbo lately, this could help the NFL get fans watching to see who has developed more and who has taken a step back. This could also be a way to create an actual development league, sort of like what basketball is doing now with the D-League. There are, however, some issues I have with the spring league.
The main one that I see is the timing of the whole thing. The timing of this thing is terrible. The training camp session is in lieu of the upcoming NFL Draft. Everyone will be making mock drafts, predicting who will go #1 to the Browns, and no one will even bother looking at who's starting for one of the four teams. The six game season would probably be in May. What goes on in May, you might ask? Oh, I don't know, Stanley Cup Playoffs, NBA Playoffs, baseball warming up, World Cup Qualifying soccer, just to name a few.
Another issue I have is the independent group operating this league. We don't know anything about this group, who they are and all. I'm not sure I would want to entrust the spring league's future into the hands of a group who don't have to worry about reporting to the NFL and all. I'd feel more comfortable if the NFL had created a separate department for player development and have them focus on running the spring league.
When you look at it in general, a spring league for the NFL is a great idea. When you dive deeper into it and read what it's all about, you then realize that it's not so much of a good idea now. Sorry NFL, but I'd rather be watching hockey players bash faces into plexiglass, Steph Curry shooting threes, and the United States scoring goals in soccer over a pathetic attempts at a football version of the minor leagues.