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Pro football: Can the new XFL be a success?

The sports world is buzzing today about the announcement Vince McMahon is getting back into the professional football business

That begs one obvious question: Can another pro football league succeed? 

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Only time will tell, but there are several reasons it’s worth a shot. 

1. There are lots of potential players

NFL teams take 90 players to training camp and cut almost half of them before the start of the season. 

Think another league would have a hard time finding players? That’s pretty easy math. 

On top of that, many who do earn a coveted roster spot come from small colleges where they were not well known or had nondescript careers at major colleges.

That tells us two things: The pool of potential players is huge, and the guys who were big names in college but don’t make it the NFL would bring lots of marketability to another league. 

(It’s no coincidence Johnny Manziel’s name is already bouncing around as a potential player for McMahon’s new league.) 

2. Football players need to play football. 

The most recent NFL collective bargaining agreement reduced the amount of practices overall and how much hitting teams can do in practice throughout the course of the year. 

That sounded like a good idea at the time, but it has hurt the product. 

In interviews, one doesn’t get the impression from coaches or players they are really fond of the way things are now, either. 

For all the attention given to the supposed dearth of quality quarterbacks, the biggest problem is on the offensive line, where there is no substitute for contact practices. 

Of course, every position could benefit from more experience — including those quarterbacks. 

Another league would mean more practices and more importantly more games for players to hone their skills. 

3. The NFL needs a push. 

While I think the hysteria over TV ratings is overblown, the existing pro football league’s brand is getting stale. 

That’s true on the corporate side, where commissioner Roger Goodell’s attempts to clean up the off-field image have backfired spectacularly, and on the field, where the rules have gotten too complicated and there is little variety when it comes to strategy or presentation. 

A new football league would open up more jobs for coaches who haven’t gotten a shot to run a team. 

As was the case with the old American Football League, that could lead to innovations that have a hard time getting a foothold in the NFL, where the safest course seems always to be the preferred one. 

4. What else are you watching in the spring and summer? 

Notice I haven’t said anything about competing with the NFL. 

Directly going against the country’s preeminent sports league in the fall would probably be a mistake. 

That’s why this new league should play in the late spring and early summer. 

I love baseball and the playoffs in the NBA and NHL, but that football itch never quite goes away. 

A spring league would find plenty of fans who are football-or-bust while also providing a nice option for channel flippers. 

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