According to original reports on Oct. 3 by Tom Robinson of the Virginia-Pilot, David Canter, an agent representing players from multiple teams in the league says players have yet to be paid for week one of play. Week two of the eight-week season began Wednesday night with the Omaha Nighthawks @Las Vegas Locos and was televised by CBS Sports Network.
The Robinson article quotes this season’s UFL player contract, which says “players were to be paid $28,000 in eight installments of $3,500 “beginning on or about Sept. 24.” Canter also notes that this is not the first time this has happened and he is advising his clients not to play or practice until they are paid.
Pro Football Talk is also reporting that Canter took to Twitter to announce that (he) “Just was told that players will play in UFL games this week but if payment isn’t in their hands by Monday all coaches and players will walk out.” That particular claim has not been substantiated by the league or anyone else as of yet.
The United Football League is hardly united. There is no commissioner, no league central office, and is reported to be $120,000,000 in the hole (zero’s left in for impact). Not only that but the “breakthrough” television deal the league got coming into this fourth season looks more like a cable-access situation. Pro Football Talk speculated in that article that “We wouldn’t be surprised if CBS is paying nothing to air the games. Or if the UFL is paying CBS.” Turns out that is likely the case. Also in the Virginia-Pilot article a source surfaced “with knowledge of the UFL’s broadcast deal with CBS Sports Network confirmed the UFL receives no money from the network and must pay all production costs – roughly $150,000 – up front for each game.“
They are PAYING CBS over $2.5 Million to air their all 16 regular season games and the championship, but they can’t write a check to the performers. And by the way, go to www.cbssports.com and try to find any part of that site dedicated to the UFL. Something the UFL probably should have demanded for paying their production costs. And good luck trying to find a box score or up-to-date info about the league anywhere. It’s like searching microfiche.
The leagues is going to be in much worse shape if the players do walk and there are no home games in Omaha. The Nighthawks own the title of the only sell-out in UFL history and average 20,000 fans or so for home games. If the league can’t capture that ticket revenue and has to refund season tickets, say goodnight, Gracie.
The UFL needs teams like Omaha who are mid-market and football crazy. They don’t need the Las Vegas’ of the world. Las Vegas has won two of the three championships and lost the third title game and yet still nobody cares. They were lucky if they got 1,500 people at that game Wednesday.
The league needs cities like Omaha, Tulsa, Des Moines hell even Missoula, Montana. You laugh, but the University of Montana averages over 24,000 fans for a FCS Grizzly team every home game, and that town has money, trust me. Or Bismarck, North Dakota, on the edge of the Bakken Shale where the state is running a $2 billion surplus and is dying for entertainment. Meanwhile Vegas money is dried up like the desert itself. Business 101 – go where the money and demand is, not where it WAS and not where there are a million entertainment options.
I love the concept, I love the idea of the UFL, I love that there is football in Omaha and the excitement that has come with it, and I want to see it succeed. But they are doing so many little, basic things wrong – like not getting out timely information to sports information hubs – that it’s no surprise they have this “check is in the mail” attitude.
As far as the game itself between Omaha and the Vegas Locos Tacos, Vegas ate Omaha’s lunch, dinner and fourth meal. The Locos jumped on top of Omaha 24-0 in the first quarter, which included two defensive touchdowns, and went on to win 41-6. Omaha had no guts in the red zone and threw a fade on third and 3 at one point in the second quarter and settled for a field goal, instead of trying to get back into the game. The Locos are clearly the most talented team in the league and are the team to beat going forward, if there is a forward. Omaha is set for it’s first home opener Friday, October 12th against last year’s champ Virginia, unless the checks get “lost” and players take Mr. Canter’s advice.