Summer is winding down, and the NFL's regular season is quickly approaching. But this is something I've wanted to address for awhile — better late than never, right?
I often hear football fans say, "I wish there was football to watch in the summer!"
That's often brought up whenever a potential developmental league for the NFL is discussed. But fans don't need the NFL to give them summer football.
Sure, a minor league for the NFL would probably be the most entertaining, but there's quality summer football out there. Fans just have to look for it.
The CFL is arguably the second-highest level of football right now, and its season runs from late June to early November. The games are played in Canada, but you can watch them on the WatchESPN app.
If you're into indoor football, the AFL season runs from March through late August. Games are broadcast on ESPN networks and the WatchESPN app. There's also the AIF, IFL, CIF, and LSFL (among many others). Those latter leagues do not have games on TV, but there may be a league near you, and tickets should be cheap.
If you don't like indoor football, FXFL games are broadcast locally, and ESPN owns streaming rights (so they'll probably be on WatchESPN in the future). There's also the GDFL, WWF, EFL, MCFL, NEFL, MLFA, PDFL, AFA, and ECFA, among others.
Some leagues only play on the East Coast, or in one state (there are multiple Texas leagues). But if you're football starved, there's likely some kind of league near you — check Google, local news outlets, and your local barber.
Some of these leagues and teams are not very talented, but there are big ones.
The Wichita Falls Nighthawks, who now play in the IFL, drew crowds of 11,000 when they were with the GDFL. That's nothing compared to NFL crowds, but a big number for semipro football.
Nighthawks linebacker Josh Francis recently jumped from the IFL to the Packers. Jen Welter, who is interning as a coach with the Cardinals, also spent time with the Nighthawks.
Elsewhere in semipro football, Central Penn Piranha receiver Terrill Barnes was invited to tryout for the Redskins last summer. Raheem Brock, who won a Super Bowl with the Colts, played with the Piranha in 2013 before buying part of the team in 2014.
Central Penn's rival, the Albany Metro Mallers, are led by C.J. Tarver, who has spent time in multiple outdoor and indoor leagues and spent time in the CFL last year.
They're not NFL players (though some are former NFLers), but these semipro players are talented, and the games are entertaining. You just have to look for them.
Keep that in mind next summer.
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