Count Bill Polian in as someone who believes the NFL needs a developmental league.
Earlier this week, the former Buffalo Bills general manager who is heading to Canton said the quality of the game has "suffered" without an established developmental league. This came after former NFL head coach Jim Fassel hinted on Sirius XM that a new developmental league could be coming next year.
From 1991-2007, NFL Europe served as a minor league of sorts during the off-season. During his Hall of Fame conference call on Thursday, Polian explained why such an outlet is needed.
"Obviously, I’m a big proponent of it because give the new CBA off-season regulations," Polian said, "and how young players are coached and how much they can be coached and given the fact that there’s such a difference between the technical necessities in the spread offense — the largely dominant offense in college now at every offensive position — and what we do in the NFL, I think that a developmental league is really something we should give serious consideration to.
"And I’m not alone in that. There are many, many football people I’ve spoken to over the years who agree with that completely."
And those who just miss out on making a NFL roster, bounce from the CFL to the AFL to the IFL to other leagues most fans have never heard of.
Polian said that NFL Europe was beneficial "on virtually every front." The league helped develop everyone from officials, quarterbacks (like Kurt Warner) and coaches (like Jim Tomsula). Yet in 2007, the NFL folded this league after reportedly losing $30 million a season. While it may be difficult to get owners to agree to an endeavor that might lose money, it sounds like the wheels are turning on a new league here in the states.
Polian believes a six-team league could be financially feasible — and greatly enhance the NFL product. The architect of the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl runs in the 1990's is all for it.
"If we did it in the United States, there’s a number of mid-size — particularly southern markets — because I operated on the premise that Coach Fassel had stated, that it was likely to be a spring league," Polian said. "Obviously there’s a spring window on television for football. I anticipated that that’d be the case. … There are a number of markets that could fill the bill. You could put together a six-team league pretty easily that’d play from February to early April and have a good product, one that people would support at the gate at affordable prices. You’d have the benefit of making new fans in the process. There’s no question it’d be a good thing for the game.”
“As to the finances, that’s a decision the owners would have to make. They decided they did not want to go ahead with the investment in NFL Europe, roughly about $800,000 a club in those days. … If you look at it from a purely football and operational standpoint, it could be up and running — as Coach Fassel said — quite quickly. It could be quickly staffed with quality people and there are obviously enough players to go around.
"I think, as many football people do, that it’d be a good thing.”