The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Beckham Meets COPS

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The United Football League (UFL) faces an uphill battle. The professional football highway is littered with the bodies of defunct leagues that couldn't put enough butts in seats to make a go of it. The USFL and Arena Football struggled to build a solid fan base amid the large, looming shadow of the National Football League. The Canadian Football League is still around. We know because once a year ESPN shows a clip from the Grey Cup, like a distant cousin sending a card at the holidays to remind you he's still alive. And who could forget the XFL -- the dead-on-arrival love-child of pro wrestling's Vince McMahon. He Hate Me Still.

The thought of Michael Vick suiting up for the latest gridiron business venture sounds far more like a carnival sideshow attraction than a smart acquisition for a legitimate league. For the UFL to work, people need to fill the stadiums, wear the player's jerseys and tune in week in week out. A car accident draws a crowd but a minute later people have moved on to something else.

Vick has paid his debt to society and wants back in the NFL. Any talk of entering the UFL is simply a convenient stepping stone. UFL organizers are complicit because they think linking the new league with Vick's name gives them legitimacy, and Vick is signaling to Roger Goodell and NFL coaches that he plans to use the UFL as a training camp to audition for a slot with Washington, Denver, Detroit or New Orleans.

I'll be curious to see the terms of the out clause of any UFL contract Vick signs. I'm willing to bet that even if he does pull on a UFL jersey, it will be only long enough to convince the right people that he's fit and firing and worthy of a roster slot. Don't look for Vick to be holding up the Sponsor-To-Be-Named Later Trophy at the end of a long grueling UFL season.

If it were smart, the UFL wouldn't waste a lot of money on Vick chasing legitimacy.

The lesson of the David Beckham/19 Entertainment/LA Galaxy experiment is you can't drop a superstar athlete into a locker room of grafters making $12,900/year and not expect tension or even outright fireworks. Beckham's arrival on the U.S. soccer scene was supposed to be the catalyst that would propel the sport into the national limelight. Yet since then the team has struggled and, while seats for Galaxy home and away games were initially snapped up after Beckham's arrival, the investment's results can only be considered mixed at this point.

The business model the UFL needs for legitimacy is to nurture talent and have them graduate on to greener pastures.

The UFL will succeed by embracing its role not as a competitor to the NFL, but as a true developmental league. It should strive to find not just the Kurt Warners and Warren Moons of tomorrow, but also the head coaches and front office folks who deserve a shot at the next level.

Franchise owners should be colorblind when selecting for these positions so a person's resume is all that matters. That is how you get legitimacy.

Vick will remain under home confinement
for the next seven days, after which he and the UFL will make decisions that will undoubtedly affect their respective futures. The message for the UFL is the same line a cop gives you when you rubberneck at a car accident: "keep moving, nothing to see here."

By Jason Maloni  |  July 14, 2009; 12:13 PM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Crime , Michael Vick , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: A Match Made in Heaven | Next: Vick + UFL = Perfect Pair

Comments

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UFL..??? They better have a ton of money!!
Vick belongs in the NFL.

Posted by: kentonsmith | July 14, 2009 3:54 PM

Wrong! You obviously have not done your homework on the UFL who's motto is "Where Tomorrows Stars Play Today!" They are not competing against the NFL, they have a seperate agenda that actually supposts the NFL. Players can leave when they want to go to the NFL if called up. You did a lot of talking but only showed your ignorance and lack of research, I could continue pointing out more inconsistencies and falsehoods in your editorial but why should I, The MLS is doing good, the MLS first season was in 1996, this is their 13th year playing, the NFL started in 1920 go back and see how many seats filled their stadiums in their 13th season 1933, not many, they scrapped and fought their way to dominance over a long period of time, many did not think they would make it. UFL Good Luck, sign Vick, and everyone quality player you can that the NFL disgards,lets see where you are in 2013.

Posted by: billscott4 | July 14, 2009 11:50 PM

Vick clearly has no respect for himself - nor the opportunity that was given to him - one that SO many young boys dream & fantasize about - no respect for his organization - his fans - the NFL - and clearly, no respect whatsoever for "life".

This man bred dogs to fight them and then kill them sadistically if they didn't perform the way he wanted. This is a man who didn't need the money and obviously just enjoyed torturing these poor animals for his entertainment. It doesn't get any sicker or more perverse that this.

Who knows what sadistic crimes he will think of next?? I don't want to live next door to him!!!!!

Posted by: Rubiconski | July 15, 2009 5:00 AM

Everyone knows the Vick UFL thing will be 1 year at most. Vick does deserve to get back in the NFL, but no one knows if he still can play, or any info like that.

I agree with Bill, you did 0 research.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 15, 2009 8:58 AM

Vick is as bright as a pea. We should let him be.

Posted by: mbhurley | July 21, 2009 11:46 PM

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