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For other uses of "United Football League" see United Football League
United Football League
Current season or competition:
2009 UFL season
United Football League (2009) logo.png
United Football League (2009)
Sport American football
Founded 2007
Commissioner Michael L. Huyghue (since 2007)[1]
Motto "It's All About U"[2]
Inaugural season 2009
No. of teams 4[3]
Country(ies)  United States
Most recent champion(s) Las Vegas Locomotives (1)
TV partner(s) HDNet, Versus[4]
Official website ufl-football.com

The United Football League (UFL) is an independent professional American football league that began play in October 2009. The league intends to place most of its teams in markets where the NFL has no presence.[5] The league's premiere season consisted of four teams and was played in October and November 2009, culminating in the championship game on November 27 in Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, site of the league's first game on October 8. The league's defending champions are the Las Vegas Locomotives, who defeated the Florida Tuskers, 20-17, in overtime in the November 27 title game.

Contents

History

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Development and early seasons (2007–2010)

Original UFL logo (2007–2008)

The UFL initially had plans to start with eight teams playing in targeted sites in the fall of 2008. T. Boone Pickens and Mark Cuban had originally committed to the league as owners, but both backed out prior to the start of the 2009 season. On February 9, 2009, it was announced that Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, had stepped forward heading a group of investors who invested $30 million to purchase four franchises to play in the league's 2009 inaugural season.[citation needed]

The league had identified approximately 21 cities with strong economic bases, passionate football tradition, and a high number of average TV viewing households as potential team locations. Target markets included: Austin, Birmingham, Columbus, Hartford, Las Vegas, London (England), Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Mexico City (Mexico), Milwaukee, Monterrey (Mexico), New York City, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose.[6]

The markets chosen for the premiere season were New York City (Sentinels), Las Vegas (Locomotives), Orlando (Florida Tuskers), and the San Francisco Bay Area (California Redwoods). One of California's games was moved to San Jose; the other two were played in San Francisco. The league was unable to secure a fiscally reasonable deal for a stadium within New York City, forcing the league to split the Sentinels' home games between Hartford, Long Island and New Jersey. In addition, one of Florida's games was played in St. Petersburg, Florida, due in part to the fact that the Tuskers shared ownership that year with the Tampa Bay Rays; this will not be reprised in 2010.

The Florida Tuskers had a perfect 6-0 record. The Las Vegas Locomotives were right behind them in the standings with a 4-2, while the California Redwoods were 2-4, and the New York Sentinels had a 0-6 record. The Locomotives played the Tuskers in the 2009 UFL Championship Game. The Locomotives won on a game winning field goal in overtime to finish the season. The truncated 2009 season was described by the league's commissioner as "a soft launch," similar to the one used by the Arena Football League in its inaugural season back in 1987.[citation needed]

Before the 2010 season, the New York Sentinels relocated to Hartford, Connecticut, becoming the Hartford Colonials. The new name of the team was chosen by fans through an online vote.[7] The California Redwoods relocated to Sacramento, California, and will also choose their team name based on the results of an online vote. The colors and logo of either team have yet to be announced.

For 2010, league director of digital media Nation Hahn has indicated that four markets are currently under consideration for expansion teams: Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio or Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Of those, two will be selected some time in the near future.[8]

Future

Despite a June 2007 report from The New York Times indicating that teams were already being set up in Mexico City and Los Angeles, and the league's public commitment to the Los Angeles market up until October 2009, neither city have or will receive a franchise in the league's first two seasons,[9][10][11] though they are in the running for teams in 2011.[12] Other markets being considered for 2011 and beyond are Monterrey, Mexico; Philadelphia (in the region's new soccer-specific stadium, PPL Park, in Chester, Pennsylvania);[13] Milwaukee;[14] Detroit; Chicago; Rochester, NY; Portland, Oregon; Memphis; Birmingham; San Antonio, and up to seven major markets in Europe, including London and several in Germany,[15] among several potential other domestic locations. Mississippi and Louisiana have also been mentioned in expansion talks.[16] In regards to the degree of future expansion, Huyghue has stated that they "may never have more than eight teams" depending on the league's economic situation.[17]

Current teams

Rule changes and other differences

In an approach similar to previous football leagues, the UFL mostly adheres to standard NFL and football rules with a few differences of note:

  • No Tuck Rule - In the NFL, if a passer brings his arm forward in a passing motion and then loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body, it is considered a forward pass (and thus an incomplete pass if the ball hits the ground). This "tuck rule" is one of the most controversial rules in the NFL; in the UFL, however, it will be called a fumble.
  • Touchdown celebrations - Player celebrations (individual or group) are permitted only in the end zones or the bench areas.
  • Fumbling out of the end zones - If the ball is fumbled out of the end zone, it will be placed back at the spot of the fumble, depending on which team last had possession.
  • Intentional grounding - A quarterback is allowed to intentionally ground the ball to avoid a sack, provided he gets the throw back to the line of scrimmage. He does not have to be outside the pocket to do so.
  • Blitzing/Rushing - The defense must use 4 down linemen each play (who must be in a 3- or 4-point stance at the snap). No more than 5 defenders may blitz: the linemen and one linebacker, who must start either (1) outside his adjacent offensive tackle, or (2) at least 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage, without restriction. Penalty for violating this rule is illegal defense (signaled as unsportsmanlike conduct), with a 15-yard penalty and a first down. As each team carries only 2 QBs, whose experience in professional ball is limited, the league wanted to ease them into having to handle pro defenses (and to try to minimize injury risk to the starting QB, who is most often far superior to his backup in ability and play knowledge). The rule is scheduled to be eliminated after the 2009 season.
  • Instant replay - All reviews will be viewed upstairs by the replay official, who will have 90 seconds to make a ruling.
  • Overtime - Instead of the sudden death overtime approach used by the NFL, the UFL's overtime rules ensure that both teams get at least one possession. Therefore, if one team scores on the opening drive of OT, the opposing team has the chance to equal that score, or surpass it if the first team's first drive resulted in anything less than a touchdown and 2-point conversion. If both teams remain tied after each has had one possession, OT reverts to sudden death. If the score remains tied after 15 minutes, the game ends in a tie. The first application of the OT rules occurred during the first UFL championship game in 2009 when Las Vegas won on a field goal after the first possession by Florida ended in an interception.
  • Officials - During the league's inaugural season in 2009, UFL on-field officials were attired in red polo shirts with black numbering, lettering, and piping, along with black pants. The officials' attire will change to the traditional black-and-white zebra stripe shirts beginning in 2010; their caps will remain the same as those found in the NFL (white for the referee, black for the other officials).[18] The UFL's inaugural roster of 29 officials included head linesman Terri Valenti, who the UFL says is the first female official to work in a professional football league.[19]
  • Chain crew and markers - Instead of bright orange, the chain crews' equipment (including vests, yardage "sticks", down markers, and endzone pylons) are lime green, one of the UFL's signature colors.

Game scheduling

The UFL schedules its games on non-traditional evenings for pro football: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Though these games may conflict with high school and college football events in some locations, the UFL's scheduling plan is different from that of the National Football League, which is prohibited under federal anti-trust exemption law (15 U.S.C. § 1291) from broadcasting any professional game within seventy-five miles of any inter-collegiate or high school game on any Friday or Saturday, beginning with the second Friday in September and ending the second Saturday in December (15 U.S.C. § 1293).[20]

Structure

The UFL's pay structure includes a player salary cap range of $12–20 million per team with a staff salary cap of $3 million per team. They hope to be paying at least 10 players on each roster in excess of $1 million.[21] In the initial truncated 6 week season, the 4 teams reportedly had total of $16 million in labor costs, reflecting the shorter season.[citation needed]

Actual salaries seem to be lower than advertised, however. An agent representing two players with NFL experience, Jack Betcha, reports his clients were offered UFL contracts at a base salary of $35,000. He has confirmed with other agents that $35,000 is the league mandated salary for skill players and $25,000 for punters, place kickers and long snappers, at least for the 2009 inaugural season. One of the players represented by the agent is a quarterback who received an offer of $35,000, although he states that his negotiations revealed that teams are allowed to pay one quarterback more than the $35,000 salary. Bonuses are limited to $10,000 per player.[22] At $6,000 per game, this is roughly on par with the average per-game salaries in the Canadian Football League and, adjusted for inflation, the XFL. In addition to the base salary, the league also pays for all housing expenses for its players.[12]

Each team is unofficially tied to a pair of divisions in the National Football League. The Florida Tuskers, for instance, are allowed first rights to players who last played in the NFL for a team in the NFC South or AFC South.[23] In addition to this feature, the league held a draft on June 18, 2009, the UFL Premiere Season Draft.

Owners pay $30 million to buy a half interest in a team. The league itself will own the other half. This is done to help control the unregulated spending on player salaries that doomed the previous leagues.[citation needed] The UFL plans for each team to eventually sell shares to the public that they hope will raise another $60 million.[citation needed]

Television and media

Games are aired on the Versus cable television network and HDNet, a network owned by Mark Cuban, who has prominently supported the league since its founding.[citation needed] Versus carried eight games (including the championship), mostly on Thursday nights, while HDNet carried the remaining five. All games are available in high definition. Versus' play-by-play team consists of Dave Sims on play-by-play, Doug Flutie as color analyst, Kordell Stewart on the sidelines and Anita Marks hosting features.[24] HDNet has Kenny Rice as play-by-play commentator, Paul Maguire as color commentator, and Ron Kruck and Natalie Taylor on the sidelines. All of the games are webcasted for those fans who don't have either of the stations. The league's television contracts bring in approximately $70 million to the league over the course of two years.[25] A third network is to be announced for 2010.

Training facilities

The City of Casa Grande, Arizona constructed a $20 million training facility, which the UFL uses as its main training facility. The Las Vegas Locomotives and the California Redwoods have their training camps there as well as their regular season practices.[26] The league was exploring the use of the former Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach, Florida as a training and practice facility for the Florida Tuskers and the New York Sentinels. However, they could not come to an agreement with the facility, and instead used the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.[27] Training camps for the 2009 season began on September 1.

Comparison with the NFL

The league primarily consists of players that have at one time or another played for a National Football League team. While the league has no connection with the NFL, and does not intend to have such a relationship in the future,[28] some have speculated that it could become a minor or "developmental" league for the NFL,[29] Other reports said the league described it as a "competitor" to the NFL.[30] It has been speculated in the press that the UFL's long-term business plan is to be present if or when the NFL and its players' union reach the end of their contract in 2011, giving players that would be locked-out or striking an opportunity to play somewhere else.[31] The NFLPA has advised any NFL player cut in training camp to consider the UFL as an employment opportunity.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Executive team". United Football League. 2009. http://www.ufl-football.com/about/team_bio. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  2. ^ "About us". United Football League. 2009. http://www.ufl-football.com/about. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  3. ^ "Teams". United Football League. 2009. http://www.ufl-football.com/teams. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  4. ^ United Football League (2009-03-09). "UFL announces games to be televised live on Versus". Press release. http://www.ufl-football.com/press/2009/03/09/ufl_announces_games_to_be_televised_live_on_versus. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  5. ^ Klayman, Ben (2008-05-15). "NFL rival to reveal West Coast football teams soon". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1529711620080515. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  6. ^ "About the United Football League (UFL)". ufl2008.com. 2007-09. http://web.archive.org/web/20071218192743/www.ufl2008.com/about_the_ufl.html. 
  7. ^ "Hartford UFL Team Now Has A Name". The Hartford Courant. March 14, 2010. http://www.courant.com/sports/football/hc-ufl-hartford-team-name314.artmar14,0,4606213.story. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ Hahn, Nation (2010-02-25). Expansion. UFLAccess.com. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  9. ^ "Potential markets". United Football League. 2009. http://www.ufl-football.com/teams. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  10. ^ Nocera, Joe (2007-06-03). "First and long - very long". Play Magazine (The New York Times). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/sports/playmagazine/0603play-business.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  11. ^ "Betting on the United Football League". Sports 911. 2007-05-30. http://www.gambling911.com/United-Football-League-053007.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  12. ^ a b Winters, Dan (2009-11-11). "Sit-down with UFL GM Rick Mueller". Pro Football Weekly. http://profootballweekly.com/blogs/2009/11/11/sit-down-with-ufl-gm-rick-mueller. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  13. ^ Grotz, Bob (2008-04-12). "Chester stadium could be on UFL radar". Delaware County Daily and Sunday Times. http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2009/04/12/sports/doc49e156a453887761576134.txt. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  14. ^ Walker, Don (2009-09-04). "More pro football in Milwaukee?". The Journal-Standard. http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/business/57272617.html. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  15. ^ Klayman, Ben (2009-07-01). "UFL eyeing overseas expansion in year two or three". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUSTRE56042B20090701. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  16. ^ Smith, Danny P. "Sherrill says talk of UFL is premature". The Dispatch. http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=4030. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  17. ^ King, Peter (2009-10-12). "Broncos, Bengals open some eyes with impressive Week 5 wins". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/peter_king/10/11/week5/1.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  18. ^ Source: 2/12/2010 posting on uflaccess.com
  19. ^ "United Football League Announces Officiating Staff". OurSportsCentral. United Football League. 2009-10-05. http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=3913643. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  20. ^ Barnett, Megan (2007-05-31). "First and very long for Bill Hambrecht". News Blog (Condé Nast Portfolio Magazine). http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/daily-brief/2007/05/31/first-and-very-long-for-bill-hambrecht. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  21. ^ Gregory, Sean (2007-10-09). "Battling the NFL: Two Hail-Mary passes". Business & Tech (TIME Magazine). http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1669649,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  22. ^ Betcha, Jack (2009-07-15). "Will they play for 35k?". National Football Post. http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Will-they-play-for-35k.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  23. ^ Fleming, Ted (2009-04-21). "4 X 6 = United Football League’s Premier Season". Tampa Bay Examiner. http://www.examiner.com/x-626-Tampa-Bay-Sports-Examiner~y2009m4d21-4-X-6--United-Football-Leagues-Premier-Season. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  24. ^ "United Football League Announces TV Announcers for Versus UFL Telecast". United Football League. 2009-09-22. http://www.ufl-football.com/press/2009/09/22/united_football_league_announces_tv_announcers_for_versus_ufl_telecast. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  25. ^ "What is the United Football League?". The Washington Post. 2009-10-17. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/16/AR2009101603517.html. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  26. ^ Huggler, Randy (2008-11-26). "Casa Grande to be UFL incubator: New pro football league to build 3-team summer training camp near Francisco Grande". Casa Grande Dispatch. http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20208019&BRD=1817&PAG=461&dept_id=68561&rfi=6. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  27. ^ Bierschenk, Ed (2009-08-14). "United Football League won't be coming to Dodgertown in Vero Beach". TCPalm.com. http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/aug/14/united-football-league-wont-be-coming-dodgertown-v/. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  28. ^ Olivieri, Anthony (2009-10-03). "Ex-NY Giants Coach Fassel: UFL Has Staying Power". FanHouse. http://www.fanhouse.com/2009/10/03/ex-ny-giants-coach-fassel-ufl-has-staying-power/. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  29. ^ Prisco, Pete (2009-03-30). "NFL could find new UFL to be a nice development". CBS Sports. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/11569904. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  30. ^ Preston, Holly Hubbard (2009-05-29). "A Disruptive Venture Capitalist Shakes Up a New Field". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/business/global/30spot.html?_r=3&ref=global. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  31. ^ Clayton, John (2009-03-12). "NFL labor strife would help UFL's cause". NFL (ESPN.com). http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&id=3972890. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 

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