Michael Vick Coming to a UFL Field in 2009? Note the U. The UFL, United Football League, is a six team start-up league with decent backers—Mark Cuban among others. The UFL plans to begin play in 2009 (originally planned on a 2008 start) and would play all of their games on Fridays in the fall. Teams would be based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, and Hartford. UFL games would be on Friday because, interestingly, the NFL is banned under federal anti-trust law from playing any games on Friday (after 6 in the evening) within 75 miles of any high school or college game. Who's reporting that Vick might be a target of the UFL? Peter King, of course. King talked with the league's President, Michael Huyghue, who had this to say:
He said the chances of a UFL team signing Michael Vick to play the 2009 season are "98 percent.'' Strange percentage, but that's what he said. "Michael's not going to be able to walk right back into the NFL,'' Huyghue said. "He's going to need some kind of buffer before he signs in the NFL, and we'll be able to provide that for him.''
Vick is scheduled to be released from prison in July of 2009. Just in time for the proposed start of the UFL season in September of 2009. Vick would be banned from playing in the CFL so long as he's banned from the NFL. This rule was implemented by the CFL in August of 2007. CFL teams also have small salaries with a team cap of around $4 million. Why is that significant? The UFL is planning on teams having a $20 million dollar salary cap and quarterbacks could make between $1 and $4 million a year. Most importantly, a bankrupt Mike Vick would be free to play as soon he's released from jail since the NFL suspension rule doesn't apply to the UFL. So the UFL could then package Vick and their new league to television networks. The UFL would have a marketable star (albeit a hugely controversial one) and television would have a reason for people to tune in. This is where it gets interesting. Who would be interested in televising the UFL? The NFL now has deals with ABC/ESPN, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Would the NFL be okay with these networks (and their many subsidiaries) giving any air-time to an upstart league that kicks off on Friday nights? Generally not. At least not in the past with competing leagues. But, what if the UFL gives a fig leaf to the NFL's new personal conduct policy? They can kick guys out of the NFL without having to worry about their ill-defined policy being challenged by the NFLPA in court. Plus, they don't have to worry about the monopoly charge because they can point to the UFL. The NFL can then ship their vagabond players out of the league with year-long suspensions, allow them to rehabilitate their images elsewhere, and then bring them back when their "sins" have been cleansed. Which would be perfect for a player like Vick. As if all this weren't enough, the UFL could serve as a farm-league of sorts now that the NFL's European football experiment has given up the ghost. Something to keep in mind as America's most famous prisoner continues to serve his time. Vick could play pro football in 2009 [SI.com] Peter King: Vick could play in 2009 [SportsbyBrooks]