As the NFL braces for what could be a lockout in 2011, the fledgling United Football League might want to make some inroads with the NFL.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that the UFL has been trying to convince the NFL to invest in its four-team league, in hopes of expanding the UFL to six teams to serve as a sort of minor league system for the NFL. In the past, the NFL used its NFL Europe as a way to provide experience for marginal players. Among others, former Rams and Cardinals star Kurt Warner (pictured) came out of the European league.
Mortensen says the NFL has so far rejected any offers to invest in the league, and the timing might not be right as NFL owners are preparing for what figures to be a bitter labor dispute with its own players. NFL owners will not discuss the matter at their annual spring meetings next week in Orlando.
The UFL insists its economic plan is viable long-term, although we suspect that its aggressive moves to partner with the NFL suggest that UFL owners might not be willing to keep the league afloat long-term without a significant infusion of capital from elsewhere — i.e. the NFL.
The UFL has teams in Hartford, Orlando, Sacramento and Las Vegas. Last year's New York/New Jersey Sentinels, who drew thin crowds, were moved to Hartford in hopes of generating more fan interest in a smaller market.
The Las Vegas Locomotives, led by former Giants coach Jim Fassel, won the first UFL championship last season.