Once a week I like check out the stats on my website, merely to get an idea of what stories hit and which ones miss. It doesn’t really matter; since I’m my own editor/publisher and have no advertisers to impress (or offend), I’ll continue to write about what interests me in the hopes that it might interest you, too.
Just for kicks, though, I decided to look at my all-time clicks and noticed that a story I did in August, 2019, (Will Major League Football ever get off the ground?) is ranked 12th overall – and usually gets two or three views every day.
I find this odd.
Major League Football was set to debut in the spring of 2016 but still hasn’t played a down. There are no franchises, coaches or players – the “newest” news came in October, 2019, when it bought equipment and medical supplies from the short-lived Alliance of American Football.
But in combing through some news archives in search of the latest Major League Football intel, I discovered that the current MLF isn’t even the original version.
Turns out another Major League Football was kinda/sorta formed in 2000 with plans to begin play in 2001. When it kicked off there were supposed to be 24 teams spread across two conferences and six four-team divisions.
“We have had numerous meetings and the numbers have been crunched,” MLF media relations director Ryan Stephens told the Quad-City Times in a story published in February, 2000. “We feel very certain we can succeed. We’ve learned from all the other leagues that have gone before us. We’d like to take it very slow, one step at a time and not be overly ambitious. We want to try to establish this long-term.”
Honestly, I had never heard of the “old” MLF before doing research 20 years later, and that cuts me deeply. I’ve always prided myself on being near the front of the line when it comes to learning about obscure football leagues, but this one was news to me. Making it even more of an embarrassment is that Birmingham – where I lived at the time – was supposed to be one of the 24 original clubs.
New York was also set to have a franchise but most of the other locales would be cities without big-time pro football. Las Vegas, Lincoln (Nebraska), Sacramento, San Antonio, Albuquerque and Portland were a few of the towns poised to join MLF.
“There is a huge demand for professional football around the country where it is unlikely the NFL would offer a franchise,” league founder Adam J. McLean said.
The MLF was to play on Sundays in the fall but as for rule innovations and the standard gimmicks associated with non-NFL leagues, I found no information. What I did learn was that player wages would be in the $25,000-$50,000 range, franchises cost $2 million and each team would play 14 regular season games.
And this would not be a minor league – no siree.
“We feel we will have players the same caliber as the NFL,” Stephens said. “Who knows? Maybe our champion will play theirs in a championship game in years to come.”
Yeah, maybe not.
I’m not sure if everyone associated with the first MLF joined the federal witness protection program or what, but I can’t find anything on it past newspaper clippings from 2000. It’s almost as though it never existed which, when you think about it, it didn’t in any real sense.
So anyone hoping for a fond look back at another football league that never got off the ground doesn’t have a lot of see when it comes to the first iteration of Major League Football.
As for the second, they have all that AAF equipment locked away in storage as well as a functioning website.
And to those of you who keep reading that old story I wrote about the league on my website, your patronage is appreciated.