Monday, March 30, 2009

This Is Why Your Upstart League (Will) Fail: UFL

(A look at the failures of the near future, because what the fuck else is there to talk about until March Madness is over?)

United Football League: Fall '09

Oh, boy! New Football, you say?
Running concurrently with Old Football, you say?
Running concurrently with Old Football, College Football, and High School Football, you say?

...When exactly are these games being played, Tuesday?

The Spin:

“You like the NFL? You like Muppet Babies? You like them both as a singular concept? Then you’re going to love the UFL!”

“That mean, nasty NFL won’t let those poor major metropolitan areas of Las Vegas and Monterrey, Mexico to have their own franchises? We’ve got the dude who made the Jacksonville Jaguars HUGE! FOOTBALL FOR EEEERRRRYBODY!”

The Fail Points:

We’ve had this talk before. The NFL has a minor league. It’s called College. Unless you can prove to be as malleable, finite, and mom-approved as College, you can’t wear the minor league tiara.

Also, it’s clear you have not gotten to the “there aren’t enough dudes” part of the lesson, yet, so we’ll start smaller:

Las Vegas has a population of 600,000 people. Jacksonville has a population of 800,000 people. They also have similar average middle class incomes (about $45,000/year). Therefore, if you happen to fire your demographic researcher at that point, then yes, they are totally the same.

Until you remember that Jacksonville sits in an area of the country where people
actually fucking live; in addition, it’s a southern city with three military bases, making it home to people who tend to be into football. Furthermore, and I don’t mean to pile on or anything, but people have lived in Jacksonville since about the time of Genesis, which, even if you're a resident of the South, is still a solid 6,000 years.

So, NFL brand consciousness + built in Jacksonville brand loyalty = we can throw this together in between bong hits. 

I mean, seriously, the Jacksonville mascot looks like the brainchild of someone who got fired from the Henson creature shop in the 80’s for throwing up inside of Big Bird, and named with the help of a local mom’s half-finished French degree.

This was not a hard sell.

On the other hand, this is Las Vegas:

It is literally a truck stop that got out of control. Giving them a franchise of something is like giving one to the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn off interstate 45.

Also, regarding Monterrey: you do know that real, actual football (the kind played with feet) has sort of a monopoly on the rest of the world, right? It’s great that this particular Mexican city has a couple of popular local teams, but for some perspective, their importance in mentioning order on the list of sports on the Monterrey wikipedia page is deemed below karate, and slightly above fishing.

Which, slightly above fishing? That’s practically at the same level of popularity as fishing! Why don’t we just give fishing it’s own football franchise?

Do you see how retarded that sounds? That is what you sound like, Nancy Pelosi's Husband, when you try to tell me that franchising Jacksonville and Las Vegas will be similar.

Oh, and Also:

Have I mentioned that the commissioner of the UFL, Michael Huyghue, was also Pacman Jones' agent in 2007, overseeing Pacman's delightful romp into wrestling while suspended from football, and battling the rap for his strip club assault charges?

Friday, March 27, 2009

On Ryan Moats:

Let's talk about this winner for a moment.

As some of you may or may not know, I spent a substantial amount of my youth in Plano, TX, living about 15 minutes away from the very hospital where this took place. I could have gone to high school with this kid. I've noticed that many people's first inclinations are to say, "Well, that's Texas for you. Fucking Texas. Fucking White Dudes. Fucking Cops."

The really frightening thing about this, though, is that it's much less terrifying to say that this is a product of racism, geography, or cop-ery. If we can blame it on one of those those things, it gives us a ghostie that we can Pac-Man ourselves the fuck away from.

The truth, however, is that in a vacuum, people who fantasize about causing pain, who see themselves on tape inflicting pain and sincerely do not understand what the problem is, exist. And there is nothing we can do about it.


Except make sure that he never gets laid again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hey, new Cracked friends.

I promise that you don't have to know anything about this game to follow most of what I talk about. You just have to be fluent in jerk.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Is Why Your Upstart League Fails: XFL

My God, From Whence Did It Come?

One of the best things about elderly self-made millionaires is that their business models stopped developing in approximately 1982. Which means that being Vince McMahon’s (of WWE fame) friend in the late 90’s was probably a lot like being on the development team for the Spork. No, seriously guys, what if we invented a sport that could dominate the market share for union and middle management types, AND the market share for the uncle that we regret co-signing on a loan for?

No, Vince. One plus one does not equal money. A spork is really just a broken spoon. And thusly, the XFL, one of the most televised Franken-sports ever, was created. 

The XFL of personal hygiene


But How Could It Ever Go Wrong?

Well, for starters, NBC owned half of it.

You have to feel a little sorry for the mega-corporations that are in charge of taking popular content and tailoring it for the “every dude”. Frankly, none of these guys has ever been the every dude. Their exposure to the middle of the country is pretty much limited to the time they had to watch Paint Your Wagon because grandma was dying and the nursing home cheaped out on the movie channels.

This is why instead of a coin toss, there was literally a fist fight in the middle of the field for possession. Many of the cheerleaders were adult actresses. The soundtrack was mostly someone setting a Casiotone to White Snake 3 and having them mash the keys.

“This is what they’re into, right?” They must ask to no one, while bumping lines and nibbling on half of a baby. “Noise and boob?”

To make things worse, no other network was willing to pimp the wares of a rival network, which means that to find out XFL scores, short of actually watching NBC, your only hope was that the unusually small door at the end of that hallway was actually a portal into Jeff Zucker’s brain.

So, at the end of 2001, Vince and NBC had an poorly exposed league that was hemorraging money like a bank safe that had just lost in an XFL coin toss, that furthermore had a target demographic of imaginary people, presumably 80’s hairstyles that had developed consciousness.


Fun Fact!

The X in XFL does not stand for XTREMEMEME!!! as the eXtreme Arena Football League had beaten them to embarrassing themselves at the trademark office. It actually stands for nothing, a la "X-mas," "Xtina," or "eXcellent use of the Seinfeld money."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Potential New Careers For Rex Grossman: Quarterback

Hey, did you know that we're in a recession?

The big employment vacuum cleaner sucked up all the jobs, and then revealed himself to be an otherworldly being, only to then blast off with every industry ever, never to return. This means we will all have to eat our pets.

But it's not just the little people. 

As much as I joke about how Rex's future employment prospects most likely involve personal appearances at the VFW (in exchange for enough alcohol to get him to finally sleep), Rex is significantly less fun unless he becomes some other team's problem. The part-time quarterback, full-time sex cannon went free agent on February 26th, and because every unemployed person who is asked this question looks forward to the schadenfreude-tastic day where they get to ask it to someone else:

Hey, how's the job search going, buddy?

Feb 27: The utter shock of being dumped results in standards immediately bottoming out. Rex gives the 2008 Lions the type of rim job they would normally only receive if they were wearing a paper bag over their heads. 

March 4: Rex comes to his senses and remembers that the draft is the NFL equivalent of the Teen Makeover Movie. Except that it's every girl in school, and they all get makeovers that are inversely proportional to how ugly they were in the previous year. Which means that the Rachel Lions Cook are probably going to be able to snag a better prom date then him this year. Bummer, dude.

But hey! He sees the Bengals over there, lookin' pretty easy. Nice. 

March 5th: Rex waits for a phone call!

March 6th-17th: Rex watches a lot of Judge Judy.

FREE AGENCY '09 RULEZ!!!111!!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Is Why Your Upstart Football League Fails: WFL

This is the NFL:

In 2005, it made 5.7 billion dollars in a market for which it has no major competition. So they’re pretty much playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, except that the marbles are diamonds, and they broke the other three hippos.  

“Gee Whiz!” You must be thinking, if you are a man of moderate fortune and worse impulse control. “If I could come up with my own NFL, could I be eating some of those diamonds?”

The short answer? No. The long answer?

(This is the first in a series of hilarious doomed professional football leagues that did not even come close to making it.)

World Football League (1974-1975)

But I’m Sure It Was Special in its Own Way!

Absolutely. The WFL was revolutionary in that it realized the best way to get the NFL’s attention was to start rampantly stealing its players. And not one or two who’d accidentally killed hookers and needed to go where no audience share could find them, like the other upstart leagues. 

60 of them.

This was back when NFL players were amongst the most poorly paid professional athletes, and when the WFL came to town with its promises of shark tanks, pirate doubloons, and a monorail, the floodgates opened.  So you can credit the WFL with introducing the weird greed induced psychosis that some NFL players tend to drift into.

The Oakland Raiders lost both their quarterbacks, and the loss of three star players completely derailed the Miami Dolphins’s Super Bowl streak, a blow from which they did not recover until whenever it is that they finally recover from that. 

So how could this possibly go bad?

Have you ever purchased an NFL player? Of course not. You have a rent-controlled spleen.

The vast majority of upstart leagues are eventually dragged behind the barn and shot because of money issues. But in every league besides the WFL, the only thing they require of players is that you’ve looked at a football once, and didn't eat it right away. 

Add to the mix the fact that the WFL was giving away or severely discounting the majority of its tickets, and this meant for financial problems straight out of a Dickens novel. 

Players from the Portland Storm were reportedly fed by local citizens, while the Florida Blazers had to survive on McDonald’s vouchers. The Charlotte Hornets had their uniforms impounded, presumably because they had left them in a fire lane.

Along with teams demanding relocations (amongst them, no kidding, the Detroit Wheels), the team’s hemmoraging bottom line was such a laughingstock that, at the World Football League’s championship game, in order to avoid embarrassment over possibly bouncing a check, the prize money was just stacked in cash on a table in the middle of the field.

Oh God, it’s horrible, KILL IT.

In true WFL fashion, the day after the World Bowl, the champion’s uniforms were confiscated by sheriff’s deputies. And when you’ve become that wacky league best known for having your clothes repossessed, it’s probably not a good time to make a play for Joe Namath.

Joe, to his future internet lulz credit, actually did consider joining, but then he realized he was Joe Namath, and re-signed with the Jets. The WFL died of a broke(n) heart shortly thereafter.

Fun Fact!

This league has the great distinction of not actually ever having a single franchise out of the United States, though not for lack of trying. The furthest they got was Hawaii, where they were most likely stopped for indecent exposure. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Are The Upstart Football Leagues So Fail-y?

Besides the classic “Infantile understanding of the operating costs of an upstart company that has to start out at a comparable size to Coca-Cola”, there is a big miscalculation that every league, every time, seems to make. 

This is strange, as the reason is obvious to me, and I am merely a lady bystander. And these dudes are not bystanders; they have millions upon millions of dollars, presumably in quarters.

I suspect it’s because the type of guy who thinks a smart business decision would be to start his own professional football league is just a really rich version of the guy who thinks a good business decision would be to open his own bar. Unfortunately, the money the first dude is throwing away isn’t “dad’s nest egg”, it’s “dad’s children’s hospital”.

sick bear

So, I’m going to break it down for you, real simple, like if you’re someone who can’t hear really well due to the height of your popped collar. Because statistically speaking, you’re probably the dude who is going to attempt this in 15 years, and the sad babies with Hodgkin’s are just going to keep showing up on the horrible infomercials that you accidentally DVR'd instead of Rock of Love Bus.

This Is Why Your Upstart Professional Football League Fails:

It’s not necessarily poor planning. David Dixon, ringmaster of the USFL, spent 15 years studying the spring football league market, past failed attempts at creating one, and potential business models; he even commissioned a study. This was a man with a plan.

This was also a man that apparently nobody loved, as no one bothered to point out that the reasons why spring leagues don’t work have almost nothing to do with fan interest.

It actually has almost everything to do with God rationing physically exceptional people like supplies on Oregon trail. 

For Your Perusal, Some Visual Aids:



This graph is not to scale, but take my word for it. "The Dregs" is neither a large group, nor an awesome nickname for a renegade linebacker who plays by nobody’s rules. It is a group roughly the size of a Girl Scout troupe.

Why Not Just Borrow the NFL Players During the Spring?

No. Contract issues aside, football players are not like other athletes.

Say you have two friends, one who is really fun, and one who is just OK. You go out with the really fun one and drink like a champ all night, and then pass out at 4. Then the just OK friend calls you at 11 AM, and says there’s a huge party and everyone is there, and you should come drink like a champ with him.

 To which you say:

"No, dude. My body simply cannot do it. I need to spend the day watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and eating Cheet-os. And I’d go out with you later, when I am recovered, but I have a standing commitment with my really fun friend."

There is a reason why a team only plays 16 regular season games a year: because each of those 16 games is like the worst bender of your life.

Why Not Just Use Draft and Free Agency Rejects and Promising Arena Football players?

Unfortunately, because you have decided to start your league after the NFL established its slightly illegal monopoly, people have become accustomed to a crazy genetic freak-man level of play. Sorry. Maybe you shouldn't have spent that year after college backpacking.

Furthermore, all the genetic football freaks have plans to...uh, wash their hair this Saturday night, and pretty much every other night you plan on asking them. Sorry. Maybe you shouldn't be so ugly.

And as much as we bitch about how Rex Grossman will be bagging groceries in 4 months (and dropping half the shit on the floor), the truth is that if you stuck him (a mostly unimpressive NFL player) in a game with draft rejects (as is the standard business model for the majority of upstart leagues), the game becomes such a consistent bloodbath that it's not really that fun to watch. Because any NFL Player, even the one I want to send to the glue factory, is able to play better then anyone who can't get in, by virtue of the fact that games do not straight up kill them.

Even worse, the upstart league bloodbath ends up being like the bloodbath executed by the 5th grade soccer team composed of players who just happened to be born right after the grade cut-off.


God dammit I hate this asshole.

And THAT is the big problem. Yes, you have an audience, congratulations on none of you ever collaborating in order to figure that out. But you have no actual product, because someone else has it all, and you have no way of getting it, because who the hell wants to go to a party at 11 AM, hungover, with a friend who is kind of boring? Which means that every time one of you tools tries to start one of these, it’s a step or two above a massive Ponzi scheme.

Also, sending someone to Arena Football League games in order to find and bring back the next Kurt Warner is a fun assignment that you might give to that guy in middle management who has been asking for more responsibility, and who you don’t really ever want to see again.

If this all seems super obvious to you, that is because it is obvious. And yet people cannot resist the urge to keep trying to make it happen.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

(Many NFL players join the league, retire, and live happily ever after. Many more join the league, retire, and then slowly slide into depression, divorce, and debt. But some guys join the league, retire, and then apparently have a blood debt to pay in exchange for their career. And when Satan comes to collect for services rendered, he is a jerk. This is the first in an ongoing series of Epic NFL Players Who Did Not So Much Do With The Riding Into The Sunset. Because sometimes, you need to feel better about your life as a toilet salesman.)

Walter Payton:


The weird thing about this one is that Walter Payton had the scariest, gassiest, mustache-iest bodyguards ever: the City of Chicago. Seriously, if you’re in Chicago, and find yourself in a situation where you have to choose between insulting Walter Payton, and robbing a bank, we hope for your sake that you’re this guy:

Because then at least you could do the bank thing.

In addition to being vouched for by the room-clearing sausage fart capital of the world, Walter Payton is universally regarded as one of the greatest running backs of all time. He went to the Pro-Bowl nine times, which is only one time less then the number of times Eli Manning goes to the pro-bowl in that dream he has where Archie Manning finally loves him. 

And then he got Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis.

No, not Eli. Walter.

This is an illness so complicated to pronounce, we would probably have to point to it on the menu when the waiter asked for our order.

I don't know. Do they validate?

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is French for “Your liver has submitted its resignation, and Lifetime’s movie people would like to do lunch.”

Payton spent his last 10 months recording public service ads for organ donation, complete with the tasty irony of having recorded the first one after his disease was too advanced for a transplant to make any difference. Which would be the tasty irony on special at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse, were it not already this: 

Yeah, he's awesome.