“The UFL provides high-quality professional football during a traditional fall season while embracing innovation and fan interaction. The UFL serves its local communities with pride and dedication, and aims to provide every fan with an exciting and memorable game experience. The inaugural 2009 champion Las Vegas Locos will battle the Florida Tuskers, Hartford Colonials, Omaha Nighthawks and Sacramento Mountain Lions for the William Hambrecht Trophy in 2010. The UFL is led by Commissioner Michael Huyghue and is funded by a consortium of private investors.”
Nowhere in that statement is there a reference to the UFL being a feeder league for the NFL. It also does not state that it is a place for ex-NFL players to continue to enjoy the sport they love. Would it make sense for the UFL to work with the NFL in a relationship where both leagues benefit? Yes, but the UFL has no obligation to the NFL, so when I heard that the UFL denied NFL kicker Nick Novak the right to sign with an NFL team, I was less shocked than many of my colleagues.
The UFL and the NFL are both businesses. If the UFL allows its best players to pick up and leave the league in the middle of the season, it will cripple the league, its revenues from ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc., and its public image. At the same time, the UFL wants to be able to acquire talented athletes who believe that playing in the UFL will give them an opportunity in the NFL. I happen to think that the UFL made a smart business decision by telling Novak that he has to stay.
Novak is kicking 50+ yard field goals in the UFL. He will still be desired by NFL teams after the UFL season expires. In the meantime, his leg and his inability to play in the NFL is getting the UFL some much needed press, another thing that helps a business in the awareness category.
I do not think that this is the UFL trying to compete with the NFL in any way. Instead, it is the UFL protecting its brand by saying that it is not just some feeder league for the NFL. Its investors will be happy with this stance, which may turn out to help the UFL become a stable entity for years to come.