Fan Controlled Football League QB lights a joint after TD pass

Jason Stewart is out of a job after lighting up after a TD.

Jason Stewart is out of a job after lighting up after a TD.
Screenshot: Twitter/@shannonsharpeee

The NFL has a hold on us as viewers, which has made it nearly impossible for another professional football league to make a lasting impression over the past three decades. The Fan Controlled Football League is one of the last to compete on the big stage. Former Zappers quarterback Jason Stewart was kicked from the team after throwing a TD pass and then lighting a joint in celebration.

Arena Football League has probably been the most successful alternative professional league, with a 30 year race. The AFL has certainly had its ups and downs over the years. But any new league has to be different from the NFL. Arena football was built around passing the ball when the NFL was still a premier league. In the 1990s, this distinguished the AFL from the NFL. Also, the AFL is playing on a smaller pitch, which allows for more scoring.

There is no real competition with the NFL anymore. Any league that has come and gone since the turn of the century has failed horribly. The XFL has tried and failed, the USFL is back, and it may suffer the same fate.

Even a league like FCFL, which sounds innovative, the fact that fans play a role in real game scenarios, hasn’t moved the needle much. That’s when you get the type of antics we’ve seen from former Zappers QB Stewart. Sure, his clip earned the league mentions, retweets, and articles. But in a few days no one will talk about it, and Stewart lost his job behind the stunt.

If that’s what a league is reduced to doing to get attention, then it won’t be long. It already seems fanciful to have fans involved in calling the games. Now you have a player smoking to celebrate a passing TD. I have no problem with marijuana, but it’s just a little overkill.

Another reason these new pro leagues don’t last is because all the top talent is in the NFL. Or they’re still in college en route to the NFL. Whether they’re on the main roster or just the practice squad. Every player wants to be in the NFL. Every guy who plays in the FCFL or the new USFL hopes to play well enough to get the attention of an NFL team.

So even if these leagues have some success, the NFL will eventually find the players who are good enough to fill even minor roles on an NFL team. This will force a lot of turnover on the rosters of these upstart leagues. It will be difficult to really establish something concrete for their teams.

In the 1980s, the original USFL came closest to the talent level of the NFL. The USFL featured players like Reggie White, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Hershel Walker before he lost his mind. Three of those four players eventually moved on to have careers in the NFL Hall of Fame, and the fourth was considered one of the best running backs of the decade. In 1985, Walker was the highest paid country football player while playing for the New Jersey Generals, raising $1.5 million.

That was long before the NFL controlled the market like it does today. The NFL is worth billions of dollars in 2022, and there’s no way another league has the resources to pay players anywhere near what the National Football League can.

We have not seen the end of these night leagues, however. They will keep popping up, generate a small niche fanbase, and then quickly cease to exist. Even though you are not directly competing with the NFL, you are still competing with the NFL. Their business is now year-round, and it’s hard to beat NFL coverage. The media knows that the NFL is synonymous with viewership, page views and revenue.

Yes, it is good to have alternatives and to talk about them from time to time. Americans love football. But I think we’ve seen enough evidence to prove that it’s not just any football. We love the NFL. Other leagues don’t have the talent to hold the attention of the masses. Thus, it will be the same cycle each time a new alternative appears.

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