The Spring League gave us 3 solid weeks of great football before having to cancel Week 4. But the final chapter of the league’s regular-season was always going to be a struggle.
A scheduling conflict with the Alamadome kept the league from finishing there. It wasn’t until late in Week 3 where a new location was approved by the network.
Fox had to be sure they could produce a quality product for FS1. But as it turned out it, it didn’t matter. COVID-19 had other plans.
Issues with COVID began in Week 3, when multiple Jousters players had positive results. Ultimately their final 2 games were canceled.
Two games were scheduled as a double-header for last Tuesday, but ongoing screening resulted in more positive tests.
As it sits now, if they do have the title game in December, it will be the Generals vs the Aviators, assuming their tiebreakers are as we think.
The cancellation wasn’t the only bit of news to come out of their San Antonio “bubble”. Multiple players came forward with reports of inefficiencies from the league.
The COVID testing process, food, treatment after workouts and games, communication issues, and travel; all of which players expected to be at a certain standard.
A report by Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic lays out some of the reports we received over the past week.
We got together with RB Kenneth Farrow, and his Trade Group, the United Football Players Association (UFPA). These types of issues are a big part of why they chose to form the organization.
The nonprofit supports players who are not members of the NFLPA. A group of players themselves, their goal is to look out for the best interests of others that are trying to get the opportunities The Spring League offers.
The UFPA have released the following statement regarding the issues reported during the fall session of The Spring League:
We have talked to many players who describe their experience as more than they imagined. Our goal was to get the complete picture. We all know that there are more than 2 sides to a story. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Knowing this, speaking with CEO Brian Woods was paramount. There are lots of moving parts within a league, and unfortunately, players aren’t privy to everything.
There are also things that happen that executives aren’t aware of. This area is where the UFPA lives. Being able to keep these opportunities alive for players, but limiting any issues is their number 1 function.
Woods spoke with me about the issues with operating a league with a smaller budget, while trying to make sure every player has what they need to play at a high level.
Despite the smaller resources, Woods said there were no issues with the testing protocols. That any messaging about travel was passed to every team, either through a representative, the head coach, or emails to individual players.
Personally, I was told by a player on 11/12 that everyone was leaving on 11/18 or 11/19, and championship teams would return. I was also told that some didn’t know until the 17th.
Like I said, the truth is somewhere in between.
Woods said the process they used for testing was approved by the league physician. He also said that players had ample opportunities to get treatment, albeit at different times than they may have been used to.
This could also be that players were accustomed to a certain level of care that just wasn’t in the budget for The Spring League.
“If anyone is an advocate for these players, it’s me. I’ve put my heart and soul into setting up the spring league. So I’m about giving players opportunities, I’m not about exploiting them.”CEO Brian Woods
Fact is no league playing right now has been able to escape the virus. All anyone can do is mitigate its effect. Given the way the league is set up, all teams in one location, it was hard to justify playing the final games.
Woods and other players were disappointed, but safety had to be paramount.
Players were tested on Monday, the 16th, positive results were allowed to stay in the hotel for quarantine, while those who did not test positive were told they could leave by the 18th.
The date for return has not been determined yet.
Our hope is that the issues that were reported will be addressed, and this opportunity continues to be there for the players. That’s why it’s so important that the UFPA was involved.
They’re set up to make sure that everything positive continues, and any issues related to resources and other areas are minimized.
These opportunities need to be around. And the on-field product was outstanding. This camp is necessary in helping players get to the NFL, the CFL, or the XFL.
The film players were able to get has already worked out for some, as they have found their next landing spot in a league.
Others are currently sending out the live game-reps to prospective teams and scouts. Practices and drills are good, but they will never replace game film.
There will be no other league like this until 2022, unless the MLFB can play next year. To get players the opportunity to do what so many XFL players have done in the NFL, we need these leagues.
The Spring League is set to have another session in the spring, also airing on FS1. We’ll be here for the coverage.
But first, we hope to see the conclusion to this San Antonio story.
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