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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
Some 16 years after its demise, I still count myself in a small minority - and by that I'm probably only talking about myself - who think WWE Chairman Vince McMahon's XFL wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Although the XFL made the mistake of attempting to compete with the NFL, 40 of its former players went on to play in the league with four (Ron Carpenter, Tommy Maddox, David Richie and Bobby Singh) winning a Super Bowl ring to go along with their XFL Championship.
Besides giving you some material to win a sports bet, this brings me back to same question I posed back in 2001: why is the NFL the only major professional sporting league without a minor league system?
As much as we love college football, you only need the eye test to see that it's light years away from NFL quality, which is why it's sometimes difficult to listen to people complain about rookies taking so long to become NFL-ready - with some notable exceptions such as the twin wunderkind leading the Dallas Cowboys offense right now.
But that's the point - what makes Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot so noteworthy is the fact that they're so rare compared to the average rookie who sometimes needs years to become acclimated to the NFL.
Beginning in 2018, Pacific Pro Football may be able to change that.
Spearheaded by former Raiders, Broncos and Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey and sports agent Donald Yee, this new football could serve as a minor league for the NFL in a way NFL Europe simply could not.
Besides being headquartered here in the U.S. and ending its season before the NFL's begins, the league will feature pro-style offenses and defenses which can speed up the transition, let's say for a quarterback from a college spread offense.
So over the course of time, besides having a deep well of players to select from, the NFL gains the added benefit of seeing its quality of play at all positions improve.
And no, it doesn't threaten the college game or make it obsolete.
Remember, the NCAA is not and was never intended to be a minor league for the NFL. If anything, perhaps the existence of this league improves the college game overall by giving someone who only went to college to gain a passport to the NFL in the first place a more viable way to get there, saving that scholarship for someone who'll actually use it.
Here's hoping that this time my minority support blossoms into a full-blown majority.
Stephen C. Smith Sr. can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or at www.twitter.com/coachsmithworld
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