Strong opinions, weakly held

Mark Cuban’s new pro football league

The sports world is abuzz with the news that some folks with big money (including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) are planning on launching a new professional football league to compete with the NFL. I’m wondering whether they’ll institute any rule changes to make the league a real alternative to the NFL and college football. The rules of football are ripe for innovation. One problem with the NFL is that the optimal strategies for success are pretty well understood. I’d love to see a league come into existence with rules that diverge enough from the NFL rules to foster real innovation in football tactics. It would also help the league compete for talent by creating jobs for college football players who don’t fit into the NFL mold for their position for whatever reason.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prohibitions on most of the protective gear NFL players wear these days, specifically hard helmets and face masks. Fans love the high speed collisions in the NFL, but they’re horrible for the long term health of the players. Bringing the violence level of football to the level of rugby violence would be an improvement.
  • Diminishing the degree of specialization in the NFL. One advantage sports like hockey, basketball, and soccer have over football is that players must exhibit a variety of skills to succeed. In professional football, specialization is out of control. Guys who can play right offensive tackle aren’t able to play left offensive tackle. The idea that most guards could play tackle on a successful team is unthinkable. The problems are the same on defense. Teams look for different types of players to play middle linebacker, strong side linebacker, and weak side linebacker. Demanding more athleticism from linemen and requiring all players to exhibit a wider variety of skills could be an improvement.
  • The safest, most effective strategy at every level of football is a mixed offense featuring a solid running game and a controlled passing game that features a high completion percentage. At the college level, you see a wider variety of offenses, but not from top tier teams. There are a million small rules that could be tweaked to encourage greater diversity in tactics.

I’m all for a new football league, especially if it means changing up the rule book to create a new kind of football.


  1. ..which’d essentially turn it back into rugby, which might not be a bad idea! 🙂

  2. Ya dat a be tite

  3. Sounds like it will suck

  4. I agree that a new league with differing rules (hopefully evolutionary in nature rather than retro or merely slightly different) has a market. I’m a tad tired of the same old game (NFL), same old field size (every field HAS to be the same exact size (pourquoi?)), same old fine-tuning of the rules to keep the T-formation, drop-back passer style of offense artificially viable, etc. I enjoy Rugby Union (not Rugby League), but I don’t want to see any of those restrictive tackling rules applied to any gridiron varient. Don’t like the restrictive blocking rules of Canadian Football either. NUMBER ONE RULE CHANGE/EVOLUTION: I’d like to see the forward pass allowed when made from beyond the line of scrimmage. SECOND: I’d like to see the 7-men on the line of scrimmage requirement (offense) done away with. Forward pass reception eligibility would be by number only, not position at snap. Lots of new offensive possibilities would result from this. Ball would still come back to the original line of scrimmage for next down upon an incomplete forward pass from anywhere on the field, behind or beyond the line. COS RANT: And why the hell did the NFL make scrimmage kicking from beyond the line illegal back in 1993? Another stupid restriction to help out brain-dead refs and players? Or just to help out brain-dead special teams players/coaches who can’t be expected to deal with something that doesn’t happen very often? Next thing they’ll do is make some stupid rule to restrict backward (lateral) passes, and then they’ll reduce the inbounds marks even further to have just ONE effing hash mark down the center of the field so poor pampered place-kickers (and offensive play callers) won’t have to deal with ANY angle on their field goal attempts. Well, enough of my NFL ranting. As for the proposed new league, I’d sure like to be on the rules committee. I wish them well. I’ll list a few other of my ideas just for sh*ts and grins.

    • Let the folks going out for passes and those who defend them PLAY FOOTBALL. So long as they don’t tackle each other before the ball gets there pretty much everything else should be legal. Allow inelligible folks to be downfield blocking too! No special rules to protect the pocket passer.
    • Allow the kicking team to advance any kick they legally recover.
    • Reduce the value of a field goal to 2 point.
    • Reduce the value of a touchdown to 5 points.
    • Make the conversion kick after touchdown a field goal (2 points.)
    • Make the conversion attempt (try) be made from the five yard line.
    • Make a conversion scored by “touchdown” worth 3 points.
    • Allow for differing field sizes from venue to venue (length and width), say 53.3 to 70 yards wide and 100 to 120 yards long (goal line to goal line). Goal posts and end zone depths should probably have to be the same size at all fields. I personally just don’t like those deep Canadian endzones.
    • Allow on-side kicking during general play. Don’t know if most Americans would know how to deal with or appreciate that. It’d be interesting to have as a tactical option though.
    • Lots of different things could be done with game clocking and player subtitution rules.
    • I kind of like the idea of all players having to have a college degree, and I kind of don’t, too.
  5. My comment is where are the officials coming from ,cause D-1 officials have to be at game site the day before the game .I am a official which would like to work in your league as a official . I work D-2



  6. I will love to be a player in the UFL…when are tryouts?I have football history with awards and honors from the Big East and also played with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL…

  7. Richard A. Bryant

    February 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Good evening, Mr. Cuban

    I would love to sign up for a try out with your new league. How can I complete a questionnaire or get in contact with the source to get this great opportunity. Here is a little about myself; I am from Pahokee, Florida. Where I lettered in three sports. I was blessed to attend West Virginia University in the fall of 1997, on a football scholarship. I graduated spring of 2002 with a degree in the Science of Physical Education with a Specialist in Athletic Coaching. Upon playing for West Virginia University I was consider a NFL Prospect and attended the Grid-Iron Classic Florida v.s. USA senior bowl held in Orlando,Fla. Currently I’m a teacher with Palm Beach County School District and Hun-gry for a Professional Try-out. So can you, Please get me the information I need for a chance in your New Professional Football League? I can be contacted on my cell phone(561-601-0836) or email [email protected], worst case my mailbox; P.O. Box 216 Canal Point, FLA 33438. Thanks in advance, Richard Bryant

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