1) Banned/disgraced NFLers are definitely a must have in the UFL. Hello Todd Sauerbrun and Odell Thurman.

2) Because the league did not have a lot of time to prepare, you are only allowed to run certain defenses. Yes, it’s exactly like when you played with your friends at recess. You cannot do any kind of tricky blitzes. And by tricky blitzes here I mean have a guy blitz up the middle. I’m serious. It’s a 15 yard penalty if you have a guy blitz up the middle. You are allowed to have 5 guys rush the QB, but the ‘extra rusher’ has to be on the outside. I saw that penalty called twice in the game.

3) Besides that bizarre rule, all of the NFL rules are retained. This is not the XFL or AFL. This is basically minor league NFL.

4) They have some pretty decent production values, considering that this is a minor league. They have on field graphics, Doug Flutie is a commentator, and it generally looks semi-professional. The commentators could use some work together, and Cordell Stewart is really not a great speaker, yet has been armed with a mic and given the job of sideline reporter. Well, OK.

5) There are 4 teams, who take turns playing each other. Here are the teams: Las Vegas Locomotives (aka Locos), Florida Tuskers, New York Sentinels, California Redwoods.

6) You really need to watch a game to hear all of the familiar names that come up. Totally crazy. Dexter Jackson (MVP of Super Bowl 37) AND Michael Pittman (29 rushes, 124 yards in Super Bowl 37) were both playing in the game. Amazing how you go from there to the UFL. Just try not to get too sad when you hear some of the names.

Might be worth checking it out. What else are you doing during the week?

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When I got home from the lab tonight, I turned on the TV and discovered that the UFL was on. If you don’t know what the UFL is, it’s a new football league with 4 teams. Also, they have a vagina with a star coming out of it as their logo. I think that’s a nice thing to say about vaginas.

Definitely a vagina with a star coming out of it

Definitely a vagina with a star coming out of it

I decided I would watch. What the hell?

And god dammit, I’m all emotional and shit now. Here’s the line that got me:
‘Losman hands off to Marcel Shipp…’

Totally innocuous line to about 99.5% of humans. But here’s what I heard:

‘Former highly touted first rounder and then bust JP Losman hands off to Marcel Shipp, who at one point led a crappy team in rushing yardage, but is now playing minor league football, trying to rekindle a dream’

I remember when Losman was drafted, and how at the time he was going to be the next franchise QB for the Buffalo Bills. Wikipedia tells us that he had a decent year in 2006, but otherwise never really made it, and was out of the NFL after the 2008 season.

I can’t even imagine that. JP Losman is 8 months older than I am. He probably spent the majority of his young and adult life training for what happened in 2004. Then, after getting drafted by a professional team, to get paid to play football, he just wasn’t good enough. Maybe his team was shitty (yes), maybe his offensive line was shitty (probably), or maybe he had some terrible coaches (yes). But whatever the case, he’s now playing a minor league football game in front of about 2000 people, and that’s just depressing.

Some guys would kill for Losman’s career. But Losman would not. If he was satisfied by the way things went down, he wouldn’t be out there, playing in front of nobody, hoping somebody notices him and gives him another chance in the NFL. I love that he’s still doing the thing he loves, and I think we should all be that lucky, but it just kills me to think that he might think of himself as a failure who needs to prove something. He wouldn’t be out there otherwise, right? He probably has some decent cash from his signing bonus, so it’s not that. It must be that he thinks his career, which would be seen as a dream come true by just about everyone, is a failure. Wow.

Here’s the other thing that gets me about the UFL. There are plenty of minor leagues out there for various sports. And in each one, there are guys chasing dreams or trying to relive past glories. I don’t really feel sad when I watch minor league baseball or hockey games.

But football is different. Football players pay a heavy price for their careers. Linemen are involved in what amounts to repeated car accidents during a game. Concussions are fairly commonplace, and a recent study revealed that concussions do way more damage than we ever thought before. Beyond that, knees get destroyed, fingers get mangled, and ribs get cracked. You can get injured playing other sports, but football basically requires you to get injured, and definitely has more long term serious injuries than other sports.

So why do people play football at all? Because if you make it, and you make it big, you’ll get to play the game you love, be rich, and be known by everyone. When you burn, you will burn bright. And for some, it’s OK if you suffer long term injuries and are never really right afterwards because all you ever wanted to do was play football. It’s the rockstar mentality. I’m OK with that. There’s something glamorous about that to me, even if it is insanely stupid. It isn’t always about making sense.

That makes it even harder to watch the UFL. You see all the big hits and sprained knees and concussions that you see in the NFL, only there’s none of the upside. They’re just getting hurt for … I’m not sure what. A chance at a dream? Because it’s all they know how to do? Something. There must be some reason that JP Losman is out there, right now, playing a football game on Wednesday night on Versus. I doubt I’ll ever understand it.