NFL Europa ceased operations last week, bringing an end to the developmental league after 15 seasons. It was evident that this league was on its way out and it became official last Friday. With the news coming that the NFL's so-called "minor league" is gone, two new issues pop up in conjunction with that.
The first and probably more interesting issue is what the NFL might do in the future to create a developmental league. A plan needs to be made to create an actual minor league that would be played here in America. There are many different types of leagues already that could be given a title close to that, and the most common is the Arena Football League. There are a ton of leagues below the AFL, and players slowly can climb the ladder before some actually make it to the NFL. The only problem is that it is played indoors, and really isn't a true minor league for the NFL.
I think if the minds came together behind the scenes, something could be created that is not only popular, but beneficial as well. Players that go undrafted and unsigned need a place to play where they could some day get into the NFL, and the AFL isn't always the best option. Mark Cuban already said that he would provide a place for those types of players to go to in the new UFL that is still being created. I'd say to watch this topic closely because we should see something develop in the next few years.
Moving on, the second issue that comes along with NFL Europa fading into Bolivian is the international aspect of the NFL. With the league planning to play regular season games in different countries possibly twice each year in the future, you would think a league already in Europe would help promote that movement. It probably did, but when you are losing $30 million a season, it's not worth it.
The NFL will continue to focus on building an international fanbase, specifically this season when a regular season game between the Dolphins and Giants is held in London, England. Don't get me wrong, the marketing aspect of playing a game over in England or any other country down the road works. The interest generated from this game has been big already. While this whole international frenzy is going on, let's try to not forget about the fans at home. If you start to move home games that would be played in a home stadium to another country, the die-hard fans lose out. That might not be such a bad thing for the Lions, though. Maybe that'll be the theme for the 2007 protest that's bound to happen. I can see it now: fans dressed in Honolulu Blue carrying a big cardboard box that is the size of, oh, I don't know, a person like Matt Millen. Heck, I'd provide the airfare to get him out of Detroit, but that's something I'll leave for the season when complaints are needed on a weekly basis.