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The Return of Chris Leak and Maybe Legit Minor League Football

Chris Leak has signed with Team Florida in the All-American Football League. Leak joins several Gators on Team Florida. To be honest though, I was hoping it would be Danny Wuerffel throwing to Chris Doering and not Leak.

It is hard to predict how successful the AAFL will be but the Florida franchise is already playing shorthanded. Despite pretty advertisements and plenty of former Gators, the team will only play three of five home games in Gainesville. The UAA, rather than getting money from hosting five dates is very happy with three and keeping the lawn nice, thank you very much. (Part of the argument is that the games interfere with baseball season. Yeah, UF can play Florida Atlantic then Rutgers across the street next Saturday, but can't have minor league football happen during a three-game series against Arkansas.)

By stocking the team with former Gators, the team will have instant name recognition, which hurt the XFL (among other things). With a set financial plan, no owner can hijack the league and run it out of business (like Donald Trump and the USFL). But, minor league football has consistently failed in America. Why? Because we already have minor league football. It's called the NCAA.

Football was an amateur sport until the 1920's. By that time, Baseball had gone through six major leagues and numerous minor leagues in the 50 years prior. For much of America, the 300+ minor league baseball teams (MiLB and Indy Leagues) are part of their historical fiber. Just like college football.

The AAFL seems to be on the right track by taking part of MiLB's formula (playing in small to mid-sized cities) and college football's characteristics (brand name players in college football hotbeds). But can that model make enough money in order to appease advertisers and sponsors? The challenge for the AAFL is on two fronts; signing good players and eventually sending them to the NFL, and making enough money to stay around for several years.

If the AAFL can prove to be a legit league by sending players to the NFL, they will be successful in the minds of their talent. But winning at the cash register will be an even bigger challenge.