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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Proposed Rules For San Francisco-Based United Football League Range From Inane to Brilliant

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge ufl.jpg
Every time we get a news release from the nascent S.F.-based United Football League, we can't help but think, "They've finally come up with names for the teams!" Sadly, no. But they have devised a number of rules regarding game play and media coverage that differ from the all-powerful National Football League.

In the case of the misbegotten XFL -- the last "start-up" league prior to the forthcoming UFL -- these "rule-changes" resulted in sub-par receivers running parabolically behind the line of scrimmage before dropping subpar passes from subpar passers, snippets of droning halftime speeches from coaches you'd never heard of imploring focus and drive from men wearing jerseys emblazoned with "He Hate Me", and wrestling announcers calling football. Yet a number of the UFL's proposed rules, unlike the nauseating spectre of Vince McMahon in HD, are things we'd actually like to see in the NFL. To wit: 

  • "Tasteful individual and/or group celebrations are permitted ONLY in end zone and bench area." This appears to be a distancing of the UFL from the odious pro wrestling shenanigans of the XFL, but an opportunity to carve out a niche as a more lively brand of football than the "No-Fun League." It's likely that Canadian Football League receiver Arland Bruce's recent end zone "tribute" to Michael Jackson -- he took off his pads and reclined on the ground as if he was buried there -- would still be flagged. I mean, come on.

Here are a couple of new rules that make me a bit suspicious:

  • Quarterbacks are allowed to legally ground the football both inside or outside the pocket while under duress (in the NFL -- and college --- QBs must flee the pocket before being allowed to fling the ball away without being penalized). This, to me, indicates that UFL execs are being extra careful to keep their crop of quarterbacks from getting pulverized -- which could indicate slim pickings in that department. Remember, the outstanding signal-caller in the doomed XFL was Tommy Maddox. That's saying something.
  • A fumble out of the end zone doesn't result in the other team getting the ball at the 20 yard line -- but, instead, will be given to the offensive team at the point of the fumble. This is odd: I know fans like offense, but why reward someone who commits the cardinal sin of fumbling the ball into the end zone? Shouldn't the reward go to the defensive player who makes a key hit on the five-yard line? Think this doesn't decide games? Get a look at this.

Rules no one will give a shit about:

  • TV cameras will be allowed in locker rooms for the first four minutes of halftime, coaches will be wired for sound, and the coach-QB radio transmissions will be played "on a tape-delayed basis."
Look, there's no reason to wire a coach for sound other than hearing him bellow obscenities -- which they won't show on TV. Coach-QB conversations do not sparkle like Damon Runyon dialogue; they resemble air traffic control discussions laden with numbers and jargon. Finally, regarding halftime speeches -- you will not catch Al Pacino making his Any Given Sunday speech. You won't catch him as Shylock, either, demanding his pound of flesh, or going "hoo-ah." Halftime speeches tend to be formulaic and dull.

They're no substitute for high-level play -- so if the UFL can't provide that, it's a losing proposition. So's not having any names. Can't wait for those. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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