Minor league baseball. Developmental league basketball. Minor league hockey. North American Soccer League. NASCAR Nationwide Series. Major sports leagues and series in the United States have developmental leagues (although, Major League Soccer does not officially affiliate with NASL). Well, except for one - the National Football League.
There's no real developmental league for the NFL. After college, you are either in the league, or you are looking for a job in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, or one of the lower indoor leagues. Every time someone starts a potential developmental league for the NFL, it seems to disappear shortly thereafter.
That does not change the fact that a minor league for the NFL would seem like a good idea.
Yesterday, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik spoke about the idea of a developmental league on SiriusXM NFL Radio's Late Hits.
"Start with the 'Ws': Where? or When? I think it has to be in the spring. I think that's the most important thing. It can't be in the fall. I don't think it should be a league that's running - it's not competing with the National Football League in terms of exposure and television.
"The first thing, I think, is the reason why it's in the spring is, number one, I think you are going to get more participation from coaches. You are going to get better quality of coaches, like some of these coaches that are in the National Football League are in entry level spots, or even there could be a college program, once they are done with their spring program, you could also introduce college coaches to the National Football League game.
"Two. Officials need to be able to work these games and use it as a training ground for officials. Not during the season, because some of those officials are officiating SEC games, college games, arena games, wherever they are coming from. If they are not an NFL official, it's good training grounds for younger officials that would be working somewhere else, so you can continue to work with them there.
"Three. I think you are going to get a better quality, quantity and quality, of player because no club is going to want to give up a player to go train in a developmental league when their season is going on. They are really going to think I need that guy here learning the playbook.
"So I think there are so many factors. Then, you might actually get viewership of the game, which would always help offset some of the costs; who's going to sponsor it, and who's going to watch, and that can help offset some of the costs throughout the league.
"Where or when is the most important part. I think it's in the Spring. I think it's March or April. I think you could end the season right around the Draft, and you could kind of kick off the new regime of it all into the next year with the new Draft and the new Draft class.
"My gut is, that way, even the players that are over there, they are coming back the same time a draft class would be coming in your building. They are not that far behind all the other players trying to learn it, but they've also just had another six- or eight-weeks of really great training to give them the best opportunity, the best chance, to ever become a National Football League player."
Dominik went on to describe the ideal location as a centralized location with a bus-league operating out of it. A place that would have nice weather in March and April, allowing players to play on real grass in outdoor stadiums. He specifically looked at Orlando as the hub, with games potentially taking place in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Gainesville.
Using the bus-league style, similar to a minor league baseball league, could help the NFL solve the biggest flaw from the World League/NFL Europe league - cost.
"NFL Europe was costing the owners over a million dollars a club," Dominik continued. "If you can somehow lower the cost, but continue to develop the game the way it needs to be developed. Take the opportunity, not only are you developing players, but you are developing officials, you are developing young coaches. Send over the assistant general manager or the assistant director of pro personnel and be the director of pro personnel for eight weeks. Be the general manager for eight weeks. Just let them get their feet wet in what is it like. It can be training ground for everyone. It can be the training ground for the assistant trainer who wants to be a head trainer on day.
"There's so much development that can happen by a developmental league. We are just starting to scratch the surface, but it's a must - not a need, but a must."
Would you watch a spring NFL developmental league? If it were based in Florida, would you go to the games? Do you think Dominik's idea would be feasible? Let us know in the comments below, and to hear the entire five minute interview, click here.