Jim Fassel: This League Will Work

August 11, 2009 – 6:45 am by Tas Melas

As the UFL sets to begin its inaugural season, it feels a lot like a professional team’s training camp: there’s an infinite amount of optimism floating in the air.  All the leagues that have tried and died were in the same boat before they got going, so what makes this league different?  Before we get to the NFL experience and such, a huge factor is that the financial backers and owners of the UFL have seen the XFL, AFL, and NFL Europe fail.  Nothing can substitute the lessons learned in those corners; the money will not be flying around stupidly as it was in those trial runs.  Then, sure, there is the NFL head coaching experience, the NFL playing experience, the inexpensive tickets, but none of that will matter if the league tries to compete with the NFL financially.  It’s all about the men and women upstairs making the monetary decisions.  Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how J.P. Losman does with a starting role and if that can get him back leading a team in the NFL.  As a Bills fan, I’ll vote on the doubtful side of that one.  Jim Fassel joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego to discuss how Losman became a part of the league, the incredible talent on the UFL’s rosters, what the owners have learned from the other failings, and how the NFL will utilize the league.

On the talent of the UFL’s players:

“The thing to a degree that has surprised me – I knew for a fact that we were gonna be able to attract good players, talent will amaze the fans – but there are so many good players out there.  It’s amazing sorting through some of these guys, I mean all of us, Denny Green has got San Francisco, and Jim Haslett has Orlando, and Ted Cottrell has New York, and we just keep going over guys and saying, ‘There’s a lot of guys that would have made my teams that are out there right now and we’re signing them.”

On J.P. Losman joining the league:

“He’s the poster child for this thing now; he had offers to play in the NFL at backup.  Nobody was gonna step out and give him starter money and make him a starter, and that’s not right, this guy’s a starter in the National Football League.  But, I understand, everybody’s got their guy and they drafted him or they’re tied up with him.  If he goes to backup and he doesn’t get on the field, he’s gonna be no better off next year… When Gary Wichard (Losman’s agent) talked to me, he said, ‘Jim, you can help him, you’ve always had success getting the guys back on target as a quarterback.’  He said, ‘The great thing would be if he got there, got with you coaching-wise, and then he could play, and really show what he can do.  Show that he’s a starter, stay in the games.’  You know, there will be 32 teams looking at him, and more than half every year, or about half, they’re gonna be looking for a different starting quarterback.”

On the NFL taking a look at the UFL’s players:

“The NFL guys that we’re talking to, they’re excited about it because they know that there will be players that can play in this league, and let them develop and then they’ll get a more accurate evaluation.  We’re not competition with the NFL; this is a whole separate league.  We don’t think of ourselves as a minor league, we don’t think of ourselves as a developmental league, it’s an alternative… We’re working with the NFL as far as the season and when we’re done, they can sign a guy and take him right away at the end of the season.  So, a team that’s in the hunt for the playoffs and has serious injuries at tight end so to speak, they can find the best tight end that they like out of the league and sign him.”

On what the UFL will do differently than the failed leagues:

“I followed all the new leagues when they started, and for the most part, not all, they started with the right plan, and then they got off course.  They lost actually their financial compass: they started spending money wildly, they tried to get guys out of the NFL and all that, and then all of a sudden you start losing money and more money, and the owners say, ‘We can’t do this.’  Just take your time, pay the guys what you can pay them, and the league will grow and progress.”

Listen to Jim Fassel on XX Sports Radio in San Diego

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