The National Gridiron League has rebranded itself to the United Football League in recent emails. They’ve even started a Twitter page.
But don’t be tricked. The URL on the Twitter page goes back to the NGL website. And although it mentions beginning in 1961, that UFL ended in 1964 and is unrelated to the 2009 version.
This is still a league lead by Joe McClendon, who over the last few years has “attempted” to have a league but has yet to actually play. All of this started in 2019, promises were given, nothing took shape.
Last year, before COVID-19 shut everything down, the league was to hold training camp in Evansville, Indiana. Unfortunately, players arrived at the hotel expecting to have rooms reserved, only to find out there were none. Players reported to me that McClendon was nowhere to be found.
This year, the league was to have a bubble season in Ft Wayne, Indiana. Again scandal followed. McClendon told his players that the city was to at least help pay for the housing, but the city said there was no such agreement.
Tensions ran high in Ft Wayne, where a loud protest by the players, led by McClendon at a shopping mall got so out of hand that the police were called.
Later, in a player’s meeting, McClendon was caught on video in a physical altercation with a player.
After all of it, players were stranded in Indiana. Sure, the league never agreed to pay for travel, but the players had left their homes, some even gave up college eligibility to be there thinking they’d be playing professional football, and having an income.
Nothing about this “league” has been professional.
I have spoken a few times to Mr. McClendon, and every time he promises that they will hit the field. But never has. They even said they were switching to an outdoor league for 2021, but, never found a venue. Even though stadiums were listed on their website.
There have been rumors that McClendon received a government-provided PPP loan, but even he can’t keep that story straight.
He told me in a phone call there was no loan. But in a video obtained from a player during a league meeting, McClendon says a loan exists. Reports have been as high as $4.4 million.
After this happened in Indiana, McClendon again promised me they were playing this year. He said they HAD to. But they haven’t. The United Football League says it will play in 2022.
The league started this rebrand with 2 of their teams changing their location names. The Indiana Blue Bombers are now the Chicago Blue Bombers. The Virginia Iron Horses are now the Richmond Iron Horses.
The league has also scheduled workouts, and is again sending out emails to players who were under contract inviting them to the camps:
The players were asked to pay between $75 for returners, and $100 for newcomers.
It makes sense to rebrand as the United Football League. The NGL had already snatched most of the team names from the now-defunct league. No one at this point owns an active trademark for the United Football League, or the UFL (for football). Either ironically, or coincidentally, the trademark for the National Gridiron League was abandoned on June 8th, 2021.
I reached out via phone and email to get more information. The call went to an unrelated answering service. The email was replied to by an account using the name Joe McClendon, and it asked me to wait for the formal press release which would be soon. It probably was him, but I cannot verify yet.
There has not been one instance where I, nor other involved have ever heard of this league spending any money. No one has been paid – not a player, nor a coach. No vendors, and no contracted services. If I’m wrong, let me know. But there are many examples of where the league has taken in revenue. You can buy merch on the website, these tryouts/workouts have turned up players hoping to follow their dreams.
But nothing has ever happened. So I implore you, stay away from anything related to the NGL, or this newly branded United Football League. It’s just not worth it. We can find you other ways to follow that dream.
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August 10, 2021 at 2:47 pm
Thank you. Do you know of any leagues that one can join and play football hoping to go to the next level?
August 13, 2021 at 2:18 pm
Thanks I was one of those players this past year
September 20, 2021 at 3:19 am
I was also a player in Indiana this passed April, i quit my job and left my home so i could play. Ended up stranded with no money and of coarse Joe was already long gone. I still want to play, i have recent film and stats from semi-pro. If anybody happens to see this, please reach out.