Chicago Sun-Times

Rashied Davis laments crumbling of Arena Football League

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Rashied Davis was upbeat about the future for his buddies in the Arena Football League when the it announced in December it was pulling the curtains on the 2009 season.

A year away would help the league strengthen its foundation and it would return strong as ever. It meant a lot to Davis, who began his professional career with the San Jose franchise and played there four seasons, earning offensive MVP honors for his team.

The Arena Football League is no more, and while it means fewer NFL prospects for teams to go out and scout, it means the loss of an opportunity for a lot of people who are still close to Davis.

"It tears at my heart,'' Davis said this morning. "That kind of sucks. What can you do?''

He's just one player to come from the indoor game and make a career playing in the NFL. Kurt Warner, the two-time NFL MVP, is the poster boy for those looking to go from the minor leagues to the top. Michael Lewis, a former Pro Bowl kick returner for the New Orleans Saints, was discovered in Arena ball. Wide receivers David Patten and Oronde Gadsden honed their games there. Stylez White, the defensive end that was known as Greg White when he was briefly with the Bears, took off in Arena ball and has had 13 sacks over the last two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a training ground for more than a few players.

"When I am done playing some of my fondest memories of playing football will be from Arena,'' Davis said. "Some of my most expensive jewelry is from Arena. I won a couple of championship rings. I thought it was a great family game, it was relatively inexpensive for a big family to go out and enjoy an exciting game of football. There were a whole lot of guys playing Arena football. I have a lot of friends that are going out and getting another job, whatever that might be, in a bad economy. These guys don't have any job experience or anything like that. They've had jobs, but just odd jobs on the side, not a career. That's the tough part.''

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9 Comments

Must be a slow day at Camp for Bradd - or Rashied hasn't done anything worth writing about :-)

Sounds like the talent pool for the UFL just got a lot better. Now these guys at least will have a chance to work with NFL-caliber coaching staffs.

Hopefully the NFL will get the message that college football is not the only farm system they need. The practice squads are not robust enough without a developmental league to take project players and turn them into productive NFL players. You aren't going to pull Pro Bowlers out of a minor league system as a general rule, but you can find special teams studs, role players, and the occasional surprise who develops late or under the right coaching strategy.

You can develop players, coaches, scouts, personnel men, and all front office functions by having a developmental league backed by the NFL. Imagine a "farm" team for each of the 32 NFL teams, and put them in the next tier of cities as far as media markets and strategic locations. Oklahoma City seemed to take to the NBA very well, why wouldn't they take to a professional football team?

Just off the top of my head, Portland, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Boise, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Louisville, Richmond, Hartford, and a host of other cities could conceivably support a reasonably-priced football experience. You could even use the same cities for the Arena League. There are enough fans in major cities to support a farm team in addition to the home team.

Just a thought, but the NFL is the only game left for all practical purposes, so they can capitalize and take control over all professional football in the US.

The NFL should step up and allow every team to add a few roster spots for Arena League players who are out of work. Maybe expand the camp rosters and practice squads by two or three players in hopes that a few of these guys can catch on with a team.

Of course that might all be governed by the CBA and it might be difficult for the NFL to unilaterally do that without negotiating with the players association first.

"Rashied Davis laments crumbling of Arena Football League."

LOL!! Yeah, 'cause where's he gonna go after another season of dropped passes?

Joe, nice post. I agree, hopefully the UFL will grow and have a little success. If so, the UFL could turn into a type of farm league for the NFL.

A true farm league for the NFL would be nice, especially for quarterbacks. If NFL Europe was still going, the Bears could of sent Hanie and Basanez over seas for some seasoning. Either way, the UFL, if it sticks, will turn into a type of developmental league for the NFL. In the end, all football players want in the NFL, and I really can't see the UFL or any other league ever overtaking the NFL. So the UFL could turn into a developmental league for the NFL if it sticks.

Overall, Im pretty happy how the league is ran, farm team or not. The only change I'd like to see is some type of rookie salary cap, but thats another story for another blog GO BEARS!!

Dangit Don!! That's what I was going to say!!

Nice post. i learned many more about the football from this post.
thanks for posting.

arena football was a blast, affordable and fun...it was not the nfl and I was ok with that...my kids and i had a lot fun at the games and it didnt break the bank

Maybe NFL teams should look at more of these guys. They'll probably be more then happy to play. Look at all the rookies who are holding out this season before they even take one pro snap, ridiculous.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 5, 2009 11:02 AM.

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