NFL Minor League?


Bryan Flynn

The NFL recently announced that they are looking into starting a minor development league, but a failure of the NFL is the inability to make one work after two failed attempts.

Football has a need for a minor league system as a way of developing players. The NFL and NFL Player's Association's new collective-bargaining agreement gives coaches less access to players, which hurts those who need extra work to make the league. On the flip side, the deal helps veteran players because it makes it harder for younger and cheaper players to take their jobs. If younger players have less time to work with coaches, it's harder for them to make the team, but that also hurts teams when they are hit with injuries during the season and don't have players they can use for injury replacements.

While the NFL is not currently immune to lawsuits, the timing of its plan to start a new minor league is interesting. Could the NFL see that the lawsuits against the NCAA might affect their current de facto minor-league system? Consider Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who has once again threatened to end major sports in the conference if players are paid. Until the NCAA loses a lawsuit and appeals the case, it will take time to see if Delany will blink or follow through with his threat.

The five major conferences could continue even if the NCAA loses current lawsuits, but smaller conferences may decide to do something else if they can't afford to keep up with the big boys.

Depending on the outcome of lawsuits against the NCAA and college football players trying to unionize, the landscape of college athletics could change in the next few years. But that change might not be good for colleges, athletes or fans.

If, and it is a big if, colleges decide to quit football, the NFL minor league would be there to feed the fans' appetite for football.

Change is coming to college sports, but it might not be the great thing everyone thinks it will be. It won't stop the NFL from trying to cash in on whatever changes happen.


btdwonch 5 years, 9 months ago

When asked about what side of the fence I am on, regarding the unionization of college athletes. I respond with: Notice how this is coming from NCAA football and basketball players. Not baseball players. Well that is because most NCAA baseball players have made a choice to pursue their education, and forfeited making money working their way to the MLB. In my eyes the issue is NCAA football and baseball players do not have that choice. The MLB has longevity as it is America's oldest sport.

The NFL and NBA need to create a farm system that offers the players that have the ability to play in the farm system of NFL a choice to either make money or reach for their education. This means expanding the draft and creating direct competition with the NCAA for players services. Just like how the MLB sees the farm system not as a financial investment but a means to grow talent, the NBA and the NFL need a similar view. College sports are changing.

Paying athletes would turn the system upside down. Not only will other sports be cut but the cost of supporting the players would likely be past down to all the other students.

The issue is not, should college athletes be paid. It is rather, college athletes should be given the choice, make money or an education. Then the choice is in their hands.


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