Professional football returned to Omaha in 2014 with mixed results.
The on-field product was excellent. The Omaha Mammoths’ players performed well. They displayed professionalism and showed why a lot of these guys could play in the National Football League. Jordan Jefferson displayed a decent arm and foot speed. The LSU product appears good enough to make an NFL roster.
LaDarius Perkins, a Mississippi State product, has the speed and moves expected of an NFL running back. Will he get another shot at the big league?
Omaha had a couple players “called up” – borrowing a baseball term – to the NFL. Mister Alexander, a former Florida State linebacker, is now on the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Eric Thomas, a wide receiver, was signed to the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad.
The FXFL has a shot to serve the NFL as its minor league system. But, will it see a second season? Attendance hasn’t been strong. Omaha averaged about 2,000 fans a game. That number started higher and seemed to drop with each game. However, playing games on Wednesday nights and during cooler weather could have kept some people away.
The main concern to me is that the league canceled the final regular season game between Brooklyn and Omaha. The teams were 4-0 and 3-1, respectively, and that game would have been for the regular season title. The commissioner announced the game cancellation (which would have been played Nov. 12th) and that the teams would meet in a championship game. However, a date and location have not been finalized yet. This concerns me because the United Football league canceled games and eventually seasons. Ultimately, the league faded away.
Brian Woods, the FXFL commissioner, told the Omaha World-Herald that league officials are already working on a second season. That will remain to be seen.
However, the FXFL wants to be a minor league team for the National Football League. Hopefully, the NFL has seen the value of this league. That could help keep it alive.
The contract with ESPN 3 for online game viewing and some regional cable outlets may also help the league survive its inaugural season.
Hopefully, the league can add a couple more teams and find a permanent home for the Blacktips. The Tips were supposed to be a Miami-based team but played an abbreviated three-game season due to no home field.
Omaha could be a major player in the FXFL. It has a good football fan base. Unfortunately, the defunct United Football League left a bad taste in sports fans’ mouths. The Omaha Nighthawks drew well for attendance, but league instability hurt the product.
With the FXFL, fans know what they are getting – a minor league designed to help develop players for a shot in the National Football League.
I would love to see the league play a longer season (8-10 games) with eight teams. Each team could be in a pod consisting of four NFL teams, who can send or recommend the FXFL sign certain players for further development. In example, Omaha could serve as the pod team for Kansas City, Minnesota, St. Louis and Tennessee. Four NFL teams in different divisions could send 12-13 players to each FXFL team for development.
But, we will see where 2015 takes the FXFL. Hopefully, we do see a 2105 season.