Professional football in Sacramento? Yes. Probably. Maybe so. The United Football League, heretofore the UFL, announced this week plans for what they are calling their "preview" season, which will begin in early October and which will feature games on Thursday or Friday evenings. One of the four initial franchises is San Francisco/Sacramento. There will be three home games for each team in 2009, with a championship game on Thanksgiving Thursday. The SF/Sac team likely will play some of its games at AT&T Park The question is how many games - and where - will be in Sacramento? The league has met with Sac State officials, but so far nothing is set in stone. That's because the television rights are still being negotiated. The TV, in part, will determine the schedule. No word yet on whether Hughes Stadium, which once hosted Sacramento Surge games, also is being considered.
Former Giants coach Jim Fassel already has been revealed as the coach of the Las Vegas/Los Angeles team. The league will announce the rest of coaches within six weeks. The plan is to add six to eight more teams, mostly in markets without an NFL team, when the economy starts ... ahem ...rolling again in 2010. The UFL mostly is targeting places like Orlando, Las Vegas and L.A., which don't have NFL teams. So why put San Francisco into the equation? Why not base a team solely in Sacramento? I'm told the league wants to take advantage of the fact that there's no football in downtown San Francisco, a fact that will become even more stark if the 49ers build a new stadium in Santa Clara. In case you're wondering, the 49ers are not commenting on the UFL or the potential of another pro team invading their turf.
Does the country need another professional football franchise? Well, there's no denying Americans love the sport. Consider this: The Pro Bowl - the freakin' Pro Bowl! - earned a 5.8/11 overnight rating on NBC. The Cavs-Lakers game that was airing on ABC at roughly the same time drew a 5.0 rating. That means LeBron and Kobe can't even outdraw a glorified game of two-hand touch. Maybe LeBron should be imitating Santonio Holmes, not the other way around...
So what about the mascot for a SF/Sac football team? It hasn't been named yet, but I'm thinking Sea Lions - alliterative and, as every Delta boater knows, there are plenty of them in the waterways connecting the two cities. Other ideas ...?
-- Matt Barrows