Let's start in the right place here.
I am a huge fan of the idea of a real minor league for the NFL. There are too many kids out there who are tough lucked out of their shot, or who didn't get a shot at big time College football, so they never had a shot.
There are several medium size, football-crazy, cities out there, that don't have a big time college or pro team.
The UFL wants to fill that gap, and good for them. It should work. They can pick up the second tier, sprinkle in some names that mean something, and really work this thing. They got a couple games on TV last year, and they picked up some veterans who are on the way out, and they put together a decent brand of football. Decent enough that they are adding 2 expansion teams after their inaugural season.
They have done a great job of picking up players who have household names and/or can really play. A quick run down of players that mean something, IMO, by team.
Brooks Bollinger: Bollinger started 4 years at Wisonsin, winning 3 bowl games as a starter. He is a very mobile Quarterback who also started for the Jets in 2005.
Matt Grothe: Grothe was a 4 year starter at South Florida and was a serious Heisman candidate before going down to a career ending knee injury. It is expected that he would have been a first day draft pick if it were not for the injury. If he shows that he can be an efficient passer and has retained his athletic ability, he won't be in the UFL long.
Maurice Hicks: Hicks played for the 49ers and Vikings during his NFL career. He was never a first tier back in the NFL, but he was a name and a weapon.
Dominic Rhodes: Rhodes rushed for 3114 yards and 26 TD's while averaging 4.0 per carry while he was in the NFL.
John Standeford: For the college football fan, this is a known name. He left Purdue as the Big 10's all time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He is a big receiver with great hands, who never quite took hold in the NFL.
Odell Thurman: Ohhh, if Odell could have just stayed out of his own way. He was All-SEC in college, and started 15 games a rookie. He is an NFL talent, and there is talk every year about someone picking him up. In the meantime, he is one of the biggest hitters in the UFL.
Andre Dixon: He was very productive in college at UConn until he was injured and lost his starting job to Donald Brown. He is a workhorse kind of back with good size and speed.
Marlon Lucky: He started 29 games at running back for Nebraska. If you are a fan of football, that should be enough.
Josh McCown: An NFL veteran QB who brings a steady hand, and a lot of experience to a young Hartford team.
Vince Oghobaase: It was really surprising that Vince was not picked up by one of the 3-4 teams in the league. He is a big D-Lineman who is rangy and projected very well as a 3-4 end. Look for him to dominate at this level.
Ryan Perrilloux: Perriloux was the next big thing, but his ego got in the way. He has all the talent in the world. If he is smart enough to learn from McCown, his stay in the UFL will be a short one.
LAS VEGAS LOCOMOTIVES
Samie Parker: Played for 5 NFL teams, playing the majority of his career in Kansas City.
Marcel Shipp: Played in 88 NFL games, rushing for 2197 yards and gaining 937 yards receiving.
Tim Rattay: Rattay started 18 games in the NFL and is regarded as a strong passer. Broke the 49er record for completions in a game in 2004.
SACRAMENTO MOUNTAIN LIONS
Daunte Culpepper: 3-time Pro Bowler whose career numbers include 24,153 yards adn 149 touchdowns.
Dontarrious Thomas: A big-time athlete at linebacker. Thomas was a star on a very good Auburn team and was drafted in the second round by the Vikings in 2004.
Dusty Dvoracek: Dusty can play, or he could before injuries ruined his potential NFL career. He is big and mean and fast, and if he can stay healthy, this is going to be a very good defense.
Jeff Garcia: There is no reason that Jeff Garcia needs to play for the Nighthawks except that he is not ready to quit playing football yet. A great leader who has been to multiple Pro Bowls and is now playing in his 3rd Professional league.
Ahman Green: The all-time leading rusher in Green Bay Packer history. Marinade on that one for a minute. All time, for the packers. His career is on the way down, and he is coming back home to Omaha to finish up.
Mike Hass: Hass is not well known outside of Pac-10 country, but he is considered one of the best to ever play receiver for the Beavers, winning the Biletnikoff award in 2005. He is not big, and not particularly fast, but a great receiver and football player.
Jeb Putzier: A solid all-around tight end with 69 NFL games. Was a starter in 2004 for the Broncos.
D.J. Shockley: D.J. was supposed to be the second coming of Ga. football. He showed that talent too when he became the starting QB after a few years in Athens, as shown by his 2588 yards passing and 24 TD's to 5 INT's that year. Injuries have hampered his professional career, but if he is healthy, he could earn himself another chance.
Hollis Thomas: Played in 178 NFL games. He is an anchor for the inside of the Omaha defense.
Craphonso Thorpe: The league leader in receptions last year. He was a standout at Florida State including an All-ACC junior year during which he set the FSU receiving TD record for a season.
Maurice Clarett: The national title game and Ohio State hero, or the convicted felon and petulant child. Which are you going to get? I can understand why Maurice would want to be here, but the question is, why would you invite him?
If this goes bad, what is it going to do for the profile of this young league? If it goes right, and he gets signed, I can understand the upside. If it goes sort of right, and he sells a lot of tickets for them, I can understand that too. But, if it goes wrong, they are going to be a laughingstock. The last thing that you want to do is to give a reason for players to prefer playing for the CFL or AFL rather the UFL. Omaha is rolling the dice, and not only for their team, but for the whole league.
Good luck boys, it should be an interesting season.