For the die-hard NFL fan, this time of year is the worst. Sure, the post-draft spring and summer are great for going outside, firing up the grill, experiencing the great outdoors, taking your children places, and getting married so that your anniversary isn’t on a football weekend each fall. But as watching football goes, it stinks.
But reading about the NFL’s interest in a developmental league reminded me of a thought we’d thrown out in the comments recently but never fully discussed. What if each NFL team fielded a AAA-type squad that played games in the spring and summer?
Think about how excited we get at 53-man roster cutdown, or how we hold out hopes for practice-squad players and undrafted free agents, or how we analyze backups in preseason games. There are quite a few of you regularly posting here with staunch opinions on Josh LeRibeus and Tom Compton, but have you ever really watched them play?
Part of the problem with previous attempts at minor-league football, or a football league in the model of the NBA D-League, is that fans aren’t invested in the players or the franchises. But if NFL teams exempted maybe their top 36 players, and then let the rest be eligible for a short season in which their development was the focus, fans who already have an interest in the jersey and the player could support the league. Numbers probably wouldn’t be great, and neither would the product, but there’d be an instant entry point for fan interest, and additional opportunities for players to get better, get noticed and earn a living playing the game.
Of course, there’d be greater opportunity for injury, and perhaps half-empty stadiums. There’d be a ton of logistics to figure out. But staring into the abyss that is the lack of meaningful football right now, I’d consider getting behind my favorite team’s developmental players for some actual action over the summer. Would you?
Opening Kick engages regular readers with a morning conversation starter, quick observation or poll. Click here for previous installments.
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