Is the UFL watchable?

Before the Arena Football League was able to cash in on the marketability of its rock star and celebrity owners and become a staple of springtime Sunday afternoon television on ABC, the product was watched by football-obsessed dopes like me who preferred San Jose Sabercats football to junior high dances in the odorous gym. Frankly, I liked that I was part of a niche audience back when the AFL was shown on tape delay on ESPN2.

Of course, we’re all aware of the league’s eventual fate. But at least it had a nice run.

Being a professional wrestling fan, I certainly bought into WWF (now WWE) owner Vince McMahon’s ill-fated version of professional football, as well. Partnering with NBC allowed McMahon to have a prime-time slot on Saturday evenings, giving the XFL at least a chance to earn respect and some viewership. However, the league actually employed Jesse “The Body” Ventura as an announcer — and actually had a player named He Hate Me. Enough said.

So being an obvious supporter of start-up “professional” football leagues, I am greatly looking forward to next spring’s revival of the USFL. I’ve heard great things about the original installment.

But why wait until next spring when the United Football League is here right now? Really, it is. Like, tonight.

Unlike the aforementioned NFL alternatives, however, this league has a problem. The games are unwatchable. Literally.

Just as I couldn’t watch multiple games of the great Stanley Cup finals this past spring between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, I now will be unable to finally witness the professional development of “franchise” quarterbacks J.P. Losman and Mike McMahon. By the way, who ended up winning the Cup?

See, my cable company neither provides me with the Versus network nor HDNet, the Mark Cuban cable company whose signature sports programming is MMA and Ring of Honor wrestling. And I know I’m not the only one missing out — an unofficial Daily Jolt poll shows that I represent a good chunk of America who will be unable to take part in the UFL experience this season.

So unfortunately, we will be unable to hear the soothing voice of Dave Sims and the brilliance that is Paul Maguire in the broadcast booth. We are, however, spared of listening to the musings of Kordell Stewart and Doug Flutie. That’s great news.

For those of you lucky enough to have a worthwhile cable provider, I’m sure you’re eagerly awaiting the UFL kicking off its inaugural — and hopefully not only — season tonight at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. As official UFL correspondent for the National Football Post, here’s what we do know so far as we cross our fingers and hope we aren’t subjected to (real) bad football.

- The league is comprised of four teams, each with 50 players: California Redwoods, Florida Tuskers, New York Sentinels and Las Vegas Locomotives.

- These former NFL head coaches will roam the sidelines for three of the teams: Dennis Green (California), Jim Haslett (Florida) and Jim Fassel (Las Vegas). Former NFL defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell coaches the New York franchise.

- Each team will play a six-game regular season schedule, with the title game scheduled for November 27 in Las Vegas.

Now, let’s take a look at tonight’s opening game of the season.

California Redwoods at Las Vegas Locomotives

California: Former Rutgers standout and Detroit Lions castoff Mike McMahon gets the call as Dennis Green’s quarterback. His offensive weapons? Former Baltimore Ravens wideout B.J. Sams and Denzel Washington’s son, running back John David Washington. For real.

Las Vegas: Jim Fassel actually has an intriguing situation at QB. J.P. Losman and Tim Rattay surely waged an exciting competition in camp. Tab Perry, former UCLA wideout, and running back Josh Scobey are notable skill players.

So keep it here at the NFP for all of your UFL coverage because, sadly, you may not be able to catch any of the games.

Dave Miller is the Web Manager of the National Football Post and an unfortunate hopeless romantic. After receiving his Masters in Writing from DePaul University in Chicago, he realized that he would never be John Updike so he returned to a sports career. He enjoys coffee at any time of the day, CW teen dramas and has an appreciation for girls in boots. You can follow him on Twitter at Miller_Dave, where he constantly chronicles every moment of his mundane life.

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