The United Football League (UFL) has been on thin ice for some time now, and it's beginning to come to a boiling point as players and coaches begin to desert their teams following a round of unpaid debts by the UFL's owners.
Bill Hambrecht, owner of the Omaha Nighthawks, isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. According to a recent Forbes piece, Hambrecht is guaranteeing to pay all unpaid debts to his players accrued through October 13th by the end of the month, October 31st. The most enticing part of the agreement is that Hambrecht agrees to pay all "reasonable" attorneys' fees if players find need to employ a lawyer to collect on the agreement.
Despite that enticing factor, there is one catch. Players are only paid through October 13th, meaning that any new debts accrued from October 14th through October 31st isn't guaranteed.
There has long been speculation that the NFL would eventually find a farm league, similar to minor league baseball or the AHL in hockey. Still, there's been no definitive movement by the NFL in recent years, although there have been on-again-off-again rumors that the NFL would be interested in purchasing the UFL.
The unanswered question in the entire UFL, NFL farm league mess has been, would the NFL benefit from operating such an entity. The fact that the question remains unanswered is a driving factor in NFL owners' apparent apathy towards the UFL. In other words, the price has to be
right perfect for the NFL's owners to consider such an endeavor.
It remains unclear if the UFL's other three owners will follow Hambrecht's lead in guaranteeing payment to their players. Members of the Sacramento Mountain Lions have already left the team, with more players likely to follow them out the door as the situation worsens. To top it off, the United States Department of Labor has reportedly begun investigating the UFL about possible labor law violations according to the aforementioned Forbes piece.
With the UFL desperate for a source of stability, we'll likely see whether the NFL's owners are seriously considering developing a farm league. The UFL would be a cheap acquisition, and the price would almost certainly be right for the NFL. If the NFL passes, the UFL will likely cease to exist, leaving the NFL with the standard crop of BCS talent, along with a few former CFL players.
If the NFL wants its own farm league, the UFL is ripe for the picking. Still, it's likely that the NFL will pass. They haven't shown much interest before, and I don't see why they would start showing interest now.