The United Football League draft — yes, the United Football League draft — is this week, and being that the UFL might be the only professional league in the United States to actually play football this year, I have decided to pay attention.
(In my UFL mock draft, I had an out-of-work anthropologist who I saw standing in line last week at Costco as the No. 1 overall selection. I’m not sure what position he plays, but utilizing my own personal scouting combine — watching him navigate the aisles, push a shopping cart and nimbly check out ahead of most other customers — he seemed like first-round material.)
Most of you, understandably, are unfamiliar with the UFL, which is why I am here today; in truth, I’m contractually obligated column-wise to be here today, but I consider it honorable public service to educate an uninformed public about America’s next great football enterprise.
Granted, the UFL — which will begin its third season in August — has problems.
The NFL is trying to divide the money, the UFL is trying to find the money.
Waiting to see how the NFL labor dispute plays out, the UFL is not sure if it will have five or six teams this season, if the schedule will be eight or 10 games and if it will play Fridays and Saturdays or Sundays and Mondays.
In addition, the UFL has no national TV contract at the moment, but the games might be televised — as they have in the past — by Versus and HDNet, which, of course, is the equivalent of having no national TV contract.
So why do I love the UFL?
l The player draft is not covered by any network and takes less time than an Ed Hochuli under-the-hood review.
l Most players earn $50,000 a year — they’re like regular people!
l No Rex Ryan, no Norman Esiason, no Thursday Night Football.
l It’s the only game in town, baby!
The UFL champion receives the William Hambrecht Trophy, somewhat comparable to the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy, the big difference being that Lombardi is somebody you’ve actually heard of.
The league’s motto is “Your Town, Your Team,” similar in sensibility to my motto, “My Sofa, My Salsa.”
The five current UFL franchises — in each case, local fans voted on and chose the team’s nickname — are the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Locomotives, the Hartford Colonials, the Omaha Nighthawks, the Sacramento Mountain Lions and the Virginia Destroyers, formerly the Florida Tuskers.
(The Tuskers relocated from Orlando to Virginia Beach because, with the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Dolphins, Florida State, Florida, the University of Miami, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida, the state already was oversaturated with professional football organizations.)
Interestingly, four of the teams are coached by ex-NFL head coaches: Jim Fassel in Las Vegas, Jerry Glanville in Hartford, Dennis Green in Sacramento and Marty Schottenheimer in Virginia. But the most interesting story is the one coach with no NFL experience.
The Nighthawks are coached by 61-year-old Joe Moglia, the chairman of TD Ameritrade, the online brokerage firm based in Omaha.
(Note: The Nighthawks now play at TD Ameritrade Park — who couldn’t see that coming?)
Moglia last coached in 1983 — he was defensive coordinator at Dartmouth — before forsaking football for finance. Then, in 2008, he left his CEO job at TD Ameritrade in hopes of landing a college head coaching position, which would be like Couch Slouch leaving the couch in hopes of landing on the moon.
Moglia spent the last two years as an unpaid executive consultant to Nebraska football Coach Bo Pelini.
Since he hasn’t been on a sideline in 28 years, Moglia’s playbook may be dated, but I’m figuring Nighthawks players will be fundamentally as sound as any UFL team in terms of merger-and-acquisition strategy.
And, because of this unlikely Wall Street-to-Red Zone tale, I’m making Moglia’s Omaha Nighthawks my UFL Team of Destiny. What, the UFL can’t have a Team of Destiny? Heck, it’s the League of Destiny!
Q. Did you opt for the royal wedding or the NFL draft? (Tim Lloyd; Greenwood, Ind.)
A. I stuck with reruns of “The Larry Sanders Show” on IFC — watching Hank Kingsley get married far surpassed anything Kate and William could produce.
Q. When the NFLPA and the owners meet, who picks up the catering tab? (Joshua Burley; Frederick)
A. Eventually, you’ve got to figure we do.
Q. In the ongoing NFL labor negotiations, is Al Davis using the lawyers with the fastest 40 times? (Greg Plambeck; Thiensville, Wis.)
A. Yes, but none of them can catch a pass.
Q. If I change my name to Best Playeravailable, will I have a chance of getting drafted by an NFL team? (Jeff Schroedl; Waukesha, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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