Another pro foot­ball league is in de­vel­op­ment

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS INSIDE - WALLY HALL

A re­cent story in The New York Times re­veals some­one else hopes to cap­i­tal­ize on the pop­u­lar­ity of foot­ball by form­ing another new pro­fes­sional league, but one that is en­tirely dif­fer­ent than the NFL.

It would be for play­ers who would be paid $50,000 a sea­son in lieu of go­ing to col­lege.

Yes, it will be aimed at kids com­ing out of high school who will play for three years in what would be a de­vel­op­men­tal league. While oth­ers have tried to take on the NFL — see USFL and XFL — this one wants to be a feeder league to the NFL.

It is the brain­child of Don Yee, a sports agent who rep­re­sents New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady.

Yee has some seed money from an anony­mous in­vestor and is look­ing for more to start his four-team league in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in 2018.

On pa­per it seems like a good idea, but so did the NBA De­vel­op­men­tal League, although the NBA has never opened its doors to grad­u­at­ing high school se­niors.

The Pa­cific Pro Foot­ball League would have a six-game sched­ule and play­offs, but it has to be con­sid­ered a long shot, even though NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell has ad­mit­ted NFL own­ers have dis­cussed a de­vel­op­men­tal league.

A lot of foot­ball fans would say the NFL al­ready has a de­vel­op­men­tal league — it is called col­lege foot­ball and it doesn’t cost the NFL or its own­ers any money.

The PPFL most likely will get off the ground. Stay­ing off it will be another thing.

There are some thor­ough­bred tracks run­ning right now, and start­ing to­day Oak­lawn Park will be one of them. In many ways, it out­shines them all.

Only Aqueduct is of­fer­ing more in purses to­day, $463,00 to $421,500, but the New York track has only two races with full fields on its nine- race card.

Oak­lawn has five full fields in its nine races.

Fair­grounds and Santa Anita have eight races to­day, but not one race is full. The to­tal purses are $190,000 and $281,000, re­spec­tively.

Gulf­stream in sunny Mi­ami has six full fields on its 10-race card, but to­tal purses are $217,000.

All things con­sid­ered, it is no sur­prise why this time of year more own­ers and train­ers are fo­cused on Oak­lawn. Thanks to the suc­cess of In­stant Rac­ing, the purses and qual­ity of rac­ing con­tinue to buck the trend of other tracks.

To put it in per­spec­tive, Amer­i­can Pharoah — the 2015 Triple Crown win­ner and the first to do that in more than 30 years — ran all his 3-yearold prep races at Oak­lawn Park. His owner and trainer picked Oak­lawn over all other tracks in the coun­try.

There are also pluses for on-track fans with the new show bet bonus. Satur­day also is the an­nual 50-cent corned beef sand­wich day, and Mon­day there are free hats while sup­plies last. And this is just the open­ing week­end.

A reader called at­ten­tion Thurs­day to the irony in an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor — who was call­ing the plays but was ob­vi­ously hav­ing trou­ble with the head coach — tak­ing a step down to a smaller school for less money and the head coach say­ing it was a great op­por­tu­nity for the co­or­di­na­tor to im­ple­ment and run his of­fense.

No, it wasn’t Hous­ton Nutt and Gus Malzahn. Fast for­ward a decade to Malzahn and his for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Rhett Lash­lee, who is leav­ing Auburn and $600,000 a year for Con­necti­cut and $350,000 a year.

Lash­lee played for Malzahn at Shiloh Chris­tian in Spring­dale and had been on his staff the past four years at Auburn and was twice a fi­nal­ist for the Broyles Award.

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