USFL: You can always pass

The USFL was resurrected last weekend to semi-fanfare in the innocent town of Birmingham, Alabama, where USFLers have been lurking for the past month, first practicing and now playing real games, at least sort of.

People who have a problem with spring football leagues might paraphrase my favorite immortal quote from the late and great Beano Cook: “Haven’t the people of Birmingham suffered enough?”

Understood. But only if you don’t understand.

The USFL is in its re-inaugural season. The original league played from 1983-85 before folding up like a one-egg pudding.

But that league was spread over America from the get-go. Makes perfect sense that Philadelphia should play in Philly, New Orleans in New Orleans, and on like that. Makes sense, but lots of travel expense.

This season’s second try has all eight teams in one town. Four games a week played in two local stadiums. If I own a Birmingham grocery store, I might be the happiest person alive.

In the ’80s, some players made huge sums of money. (Somewhere, Herschel Walker is smiling.)

All today’s guys are paid the same, roughly $45,000 for a season if you make it through all 10 games; you can make more if you win that week’s game ($850 a win) and an extra $10,000 if you are on the USFL’s title team. That’s a lot of money to me, but it’s not money that will “break” the investors in the current USFL.

Plus there are more TV options and gadgets now than in the mid-1980s, which had big hair and shoulder pads but not drones and the ability to mic-up so many players and coaches, which is what fans watching on TV heard this weekend. Seems everyone was wearing a mic except the concessions guy.

This is a TV league. Birmingham supports its local D-League hoops team and its soccer team, but no reasonable person can expect the town to support eight pro teams for three months. The good people of Birmingham love their football, but they love food and shelter too.

The league is counting on TV viewers. Weekend 1’s ratings were most acceptable. The question is, what will Weekends 3, 4, and 5 be like?

We’ll see, but some of us (me) will see by checking the scores, not by watching.

But bravo for the people who want to watch and for players and coaches who want to be in the arena. Good for them. People who are mad at the USFL just for being are wasting time. Like me, they probably don’t watch soap operas either, but they don’t waste time worrying that soaps are on. To each his own.

I love college bowl games — it’s a character flaw — and shrug my shoulders at people who don’t.

You don’t like the USFL? Watch one of the other 300 stations. Read a book. Learn to knit. Start your own league.

If you want to watch football, you’ve got it, 10 weeks until the league’s title game. In the meantime, spring football is like fruitcake and deviled eggs and most everything else: some people like it and some don’t. So eat and enjoy, or pass and keep your mouth shut — and know college football will be back before you know it.

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