Spring Football League

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Spring Football League
Logo sfl2.gif
Sport American football
Founded 1995
No. of teams (4)

The Spring Football League (SFL) was a professional American football league that existed for only part of one mini-season in 2000. Founded by several ex-NFL players such as Eric Dickerson, Drew Pearson, Bo Jackson, and Tony Dorsett, the SFL planned to use the four game mini-season (dubbed "Festival 2000") to test cities, fans, stadiums, the media, entertainment, and springtime American football as a product. The year before, the Regional Football League staggered through a spring season, then announced it would not return for 2000.

In late 1999, the SFL announced an inaugural season of 2000, with ten individually-owned teams playing a 12-week schedule, followed by a championship game during Memorial Day weekend. Mark Rice, chairman of the SFL board of governors, placed eight of the franchises in Birmingham, Canton, Ohio, Houston, Jackson, Mississippi, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and Washington, D.C. Nothing more was heard until March 1, 2000, when the SFL announced the league had scaled down to four teams that would play four-game schedules on Saturdays from April 29, followed by a championship game in Miami on May 27.[1]

The teams were:

SFL teams consisted of 38 players, each of whom would receive $1,200 per game with a $200 winners bonus.

The league's games included pre-game and half-time shows featuring national musical acts (such as The O'Jays, Mark Wills, and Poncho Sanchez), a pronounced effort to attract both African-Americans and Latino fans, and innovative use of wireless communication.

SFL coaches of note:

Mini-season cut short

Due to a lack of media coverage—the SFL had no TV or radio contracts, and newspaper coverage was spotty at best—it quickly became obvious that the league was a sinking ship. Attendance was disastrously low, despite very competitive contests. The SFL wasn't even able to finish out its modest, one month season—league officials ended the test program after only two weeks (and four games, none of which drew more than a few thousand people). Houston and San Antonio, both with 2-0 records, were declared league co-champions.

With funding for the league having been provided by tech-stock entrepreneurs, any chance that the SFL would return was scotched by the tech-market crash of 2000 and the subsequent announcement of the XFL by the WWF.

The last professional football game played at the Miami Orange Bowl was an SFL game: an estimated 650 fans watched on April 29, 2000 as the Houston Marshals defeated the Miami Tropics, 40-10.

External links

  • "Remember the SFL"
  • SFL helmet designs
  1. ^ Associated Press story on SFL
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