Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Could the A11FL take a WLAF-like ‘Team Dallas’ approach to in-season player pool?

The A11 Football League has announced its initial draft procedure prior to its inaugural season in the spring of 2015 – two regional allocations and two common drafts.

One of the aspects of the A11FL in which the finishing touches are being made is how the league will allow each of its eight charter franchises to restock their rosters during the season in the event of players’ injuries and ineffectiveness.

The original World League of American Football (1991-92) came up with a unique way to allow teams to sign players in the event they were needed throughout the season. It was called “Team Dallas,” a group of players under contract to the WLAF who practiced at Pennington Field in Bedford, Texas, outside of Dallas, in the event one of the 10 league teams might have a need.

The WLAF’s “11th team” of practice squaders were supposed to have a leg up on regular free agents, because the original plan was for each WLAF team to have the same offensive and defensive terminology, allowing Team Dallas players to fit right in with their new teams once their name was called. Former college football head coach Mike Gottfried drew up the league’s offensive playbook, and longtime Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Collier designed the WLAF’s defensive playbook. (That plan was blown up, however, when, for instance, the New York/New Jersey Knights utilized head coach Mouse Davis’ Run “N” Shoot offense and a 4-3 defense, where the rest of the league played a 3-4).

Team Dallas had a size of 40 players, and those players were played $500 per week. The “head coach” of Team Dallas in 1991 was John Ralston, former National Football League, United States Football League and college coach. In 1992, the leader of Team Dallas was Doug Kay, the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks’ defensive coordinator in 1991.

Team Dallas scrimmaged throughout the week, but didn’t play any games.

The most desperate WLAF team in terms of having to go to Team Dallas early in 1991 was the San Antonio Riders, who needed to sign a pair of Team Dallas quarterbacks (Mike Johnson and Mickey Guidry) to replace injured Jason Garrett (yes, THAT Jason Garrett) and Lee Saltz. Johnson ended up starting most of the season for the Riders.

Given that A11FL teams will run a similar offense, a Team Dallas-type practice squad may very well work. Whether or not the league will go with this approach will be one of the facets of the A11FL that will be fun to discover in the coming weeks and months.

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