Do we need other football leagues?

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Brian Achmoody, Staff Writer

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At one point in the 1960’s, there were two major football leagues, the NFL and the AFL. Together they fought head-to-head to be the only football league in America. In 1966, they decided to merge with the AFL playing AFL teams, and the NFL teams playing NFL Teams. Then, the Super Bowl was made, where the best NFL team and the best AFL team would play each other to win the Super Bowl. In 1970, the merger was completed and the NFL now owned the AFL teams. The AFL brought over the New York City Titans, who changed their name to the New York Jets, the Dallas Texans who relocated and became the Kansas City Chiefs, the Boston Patriots, who changed their name to the New England Patriots     , Houston Oilers, who relocated in 1997, to become the Tennessee Titans. They also agreed on two expansion teams, the Miami Dolphins in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968.

The World Football League was founded in 1973 by Gary Davidson; a lawyer from California, Robert Schmertz, who owned the Boston Celtics in the NBA and the New England Whalers from the World Hockey Association/WHA, Howard Baldwin, who went on to own the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL. The league had two seasons in 1974 and 1975. The teams in 1974 were The Hawaiians, the Detroit Wheels, the Birmingham Americans, Chicago Fire, Florida Blazers, Houston Texans/ Shreveport Steamer, Jacksonville Sharks, Memphis Southmen, New York Stars/Charlotte Stars/Charlotte Hornets, Portland Storm, Philadelphia Bell, and the Portland Storm. In 1975 the teams were the Birmingham Vulcans, the Chicago Winds, the San Antonio Winds, the Hawaiians, Shreveport Steamer, Jacksonville Express, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia Bell, Portland Thunder, Southern California Sun. The League folded in the middle of the 1975 season.

The United States Football League was founded in 1982 by David Dixon, a New Orleans businessman who originally started the foundation for the league in 1965. The teams had successful owners such as the U.S. President Donald Trump, Bill Daniels, who eventually became the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, and Alex Spanos, who left the league before the launch and became the owner of the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL. The teams throughout their history included, the Arizona Wranglers/Outlaws, Birmingham Stallions, Boston/New Orleans/Portland Breakers, Chicago Blitz, Denver Gold, Los Angeles Express, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Oakland Invaders, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Tampa Bay Bandits, Washington Federals/Orlando Renegades, Houston Gamblers, Jacksonville Bulls, Memphis Showboats, Oklahoma Outlaws, Pittsburgh Maulers, and the San Antonio Gunslingers.

One of the most controversial moments was that they had their Territorial Draft and their Collegiate Draft before the 1984 season and drafted guys such as Hall of Fame Inductees Reggie White, Steve Young, Gary Zimmerman; and NFL Greats such as Carl Banks, Irving Fryar, and Eugene Lockhart. Some players didn’t sign such as Wide Receiver Irving Fryar, who ended up going First Overall in the 1984 NFL Draft, and Linebacker Wilber Marshall who went Eleventh Overall in the 1984 NFL Draft. The biggest by far was Herschel Walker who was a Heisman trophy winner in 1982 the year before. He wasn’t eligible for the NFL because he was a junior (NFL Eligibility Rules were for seniors only during that time), so he left college early to sign with the New Jersey Generals before the beginning of the 1983 season, and holds almost all the rushing records.

The best story of the USFL is the late Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars Linebacker Sam Mills. Sam was a star player at Long Branch High School, but he was only 5’9 “too small to be a pro linebacker,” so he played at Montclair State, which was a division III school and is very tough to make a professional league out of. He went undrafted in the NFL Draft, but got signed by the Cleveland Browns of the NFL, but was released. He found a teaching job at East Orange High School in New Jersey. Eventually, he signed with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, and became a star for the team and one of the greatest players in league history, if not the greatest player in league history. When his Head Coach Jim Mora left the USFL he brought Sam Mills with him. There Sam Mills was part of the Dome Patrol Defense of the New Orleans Saints, which was a phenomenal Linebacker Core that consisted of him, fellow USFL Linebacker Vaughan Johnson, Pat Swilling, and NFL Hall of Fame Inductee Rickey Jackson, the former of which made 4 pro bowls each during their time with the New Orleans Saints, Rickey Jackson made 6 pro bowls with the Saints. Sam went on to make a few pro bowls with the Carolina before retiring at the end of the 1997 NFL Season. Sam Mills sadly passed away in 2005 after a long battle with Intestinal Cancer. You probably know him as the guy that started the Keep Pounding drum tradition for the Carolina Panthers when he was coaching for the Carolina Panthers in 2004 and sparked their Super Bowl run.

So why did the USFL go under? Well… they sued the NFL, (DUH, DUH, DUH.) In what could be the dumbest move by an American Sports League, they went to court with the big boys, they sued the NFL because they thought they had a monopoly over all the football leagues with the rights to the major television stations, and in some cases the rights to venues. The court ruled in favor of the NFL, and the USFL soon went under.

There wasn’t much competition to the NFL until 2001 with the Xtreme Football League, scratch that it wasn’t actually called that it was just 3 letters, the XFL, for some reason the letters did not stand for anything. The XFL was created by WWE’s owner Vince McMahon, and a producer from NBC Dick Ebersol, they ran a championship game at the end of the season, called the Million Dollar Championship Game. The XFL consisted of 8 teams, the Los Angeles Xtreme, the Memphis Maniax, the Las Vegas Outlaws, the San Francisco Demons, the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, the Orlando Rage, the Chicago Enforcers, and the Birmingham Blast, who changed their name to the Thunderbolts, because of the Eric Rudolph Bombings. They had notable players such as Tommy Maddox and Rod Smart a.k.a. HE HATE ME. The league died because of the weird rules they had, and they incorporated too much of the WWE Wrestlers, into their branding. Some cool things about the league were nicknames on jerseys, Sky Cam, and a different style of commentating which most people don’t like but I like a lot.

The Alliance of American Football was founded in March of 2018 by Charlie Ebersol a producer from NBC and Dick Ebersol’s son, and Bill Polian, former General Manager of the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts, and president of the Indianapolis Colts as well. The league was overseen by Polian, former Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu, and former NFL executive J.K. McKay. The advisers of the league were former New York Giants and Oakland Raiders Defensive End Justin Tuck, Former Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Hines Ward, Fox NFL Rules Analyst Mike Pereira, Former Kansas City Chiefs Minnesota Vikings Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers Defensive End Jared Allen.

The teams were, the Atlanta Legends, the San Antonio Commanders, the San Diego Fleet, the Arizona Hotshots, the Memphis Express, the Birmingham Iron, the Orlando Apollos, and the Salt Lake Stallions. After a successful week, the league was already low on money so the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon pledged a $250,000 into the league and became the chairman of the league, the league was still struggling but looked like it would make it through a whole season. But after week 8 they filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and the league folded, Bill Polian was furious with Tom Dundon, because he thought they could go a full season, but Dundon pulled out because he didn’t want to lose money. 49 players have signed with the NFL since then.

So what is the next alternative for football fans who are not about the NFL’s Rules, Penalties, and Weak Hits; 2020 because the XFL is coming back. That’s right the XFL is returning in 2020 with better financial backing, a commissioner named Oliver Luck who is a former NFL QB, and Vince McMahon is owning it, and Doug Whaley former NFL GM of the Buffalo Bills will be the Senior Vice President of Football Operations. They will be running test games in Mississippi with players from Your Call Football and the Spring League. The Head coaches are former Oklahoma University Head Coach Bob Stoops, former NFL Head Coaches Jim Zorn, June Jones, Marc Trestman, and Kevin Gilbride, and former Assistant Coaches in the NFL Winston Moss, Jonathan Hayes, and Pep Hamilton. I expect that the league will play good football but won’t last long because of the NFL having all the big TV contract agreements and other channels prioritizing the NFL over any other football league. Hopefully the league will last long and prove my expectations wrong, I’ll be supporting the XFL and hopefully others will watch so we will have an alternative football league to the NFL for at least a few years.