Inside The Pocket #008: Rivals Of The NFL
By Simon Carroll
Beginning in 2018 and running through 2021, the Collapsing Pocket launched a new series of podcasts looking back at the iconic characters and biggest moments in the NFL, and what makes football the most beautiful – and sometimes the ugliest – sport that we all know & love.
Known as the ‘Inside The Pocket’ series, The Touchdown will be relaunching these twenty episodes as part of the buildup to the 2023 season. The original creators Sam Akroyd, Simon Carroll and Rob Ward look back and offer their thoughts on how these legends and eras shaped the league we see today.
ITP #008: Rivals Of The NFL
First Aired: 20th August 2019
The NFL, as a brand and as a product, seems impervious to competition. Many startup leagues have tried to take on the billion dollar empire and help itself to a slice of the pie. All of them have failed. It began with the AFL back in the 1960’s, a legitimate competitor that forced the NFL to merge with them. Merge was the official term, but it was more like ‘absorb’. All of the teams that sit in the AFC East and West hail from this once alternative league, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Oilers, now better known as the Tennessee Titans.
From that point on, the NFL’s grip on professional football was absolute. Competitors came, competitors went – with varying degrees of success. And within this episode the fates of the USFL, XFL and the Alliance are discussed. What was it that held these leagues back from making a permanent mark on the football landscape?
Of course, two of these leagues have now returned since this podcast was recorded. And with something of a different mindset, perhaps they have more chance of survival; can the new-look versions of the USFL and XFL prosper with a kind of second-level status; a gateway for talent still holding out hope of one day wearing a uniform with the NFL shield on it?
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PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER OF NFL DRAFT UK, SIMON HAS BEEN COVERING COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND THE NFL DRAFT SINCE 2009. BASED IN MANCHESTER, SIMON IS ALSO CO-CREATOR & WEEKLY GUEST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST.