Could NFL, college football partnership help solve player compensation issue?
Defensive end Datone Jones.Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - "In the 1st round of the NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Sean McGuire, quarterback, Franklin High School. The Packers will assign him to their college developmental team at the University of Wisconsin."
No, we won't see NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell striding across the stage at Radio City Music Hall next April saying those words, handing an 18-year-old senior quarterback from the Milwaukee area a Packers No. 1 jersey and giving him a bear hug, welcoming him to the NFL.
Nor will we see him make the media rounds the next morning with TODAY'S TMJ4 Vince Vitrano and Susan Kim, 620WTMJ's Gene Mueller and Greg Matzek and their colleages on NBC26 Today via satellite while pumped with coffee in his New York hotel room.
He won't be talking about how he dreamed of playing with the Packers and how he's getting his chance in four years after hopefully powering the Badgers to a Rose Bowl win.
We probably won't see those things anytime in the next few years, either.
Right now, we live in a world of college sports where amateurism and lengthy NCAA rules are heavily questioned, and players who make their universities millions don't see any of it except through tuition, room and board.
Could an NFL minor-league/college hybrid work in successfully replacing the current model of matriculation from high school to the pros and give a more fair method of compensation?
Theoretically, yes - even if most university presidents would never sign off on it.
How would this model work?
Universities would sign agreements with NFL teams to provide a farm system similar to how Major League Baseball and the NHL operate. The NFL team would pay the university, and perhaps employ the coaching staff.
For example, the Packers could sign up UW and the University of Alabama as its two major FBS schools and send players to these powerhouses to develop their game, and hopefully get an education.
The Packers would pay these players a nominal amount, similar to what Brewers players get when playing for AAA Nashville, AA Huntsville or the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers - so that they don't ever have to worry about working fake jobs in the summer.
The NFL and college football would set up a fair deal in terms of marketing assistance and television rights...and hopefully through a fair playoff system and other efforts, help these universities make even more revenue.
The players would continue to let these colleges rake in huge money off their names, likenesses and efforts - just like NFL players do today.
However, as employees of an NFL team, they could also receive a cut for apparel sold with players' names on it and create their own endorsement deals, forever wiping away the sometimes inane college football rules about players not being able to fairly capitalize on what they bring to a university.
That would mean Johnny Manziel and the other college football players in the plan would get a cut for every Manziel jersey sold (like the NFL model), and he could fairly cut a deal for the thousands of autographs he has allegedly signed.
For the 90-plus percent of college football players who don't eventually matriculate to the NFL, it also means a college education.
That's truly more important than anything involving football, even if many university presidents who claim education trumps football are lying through their teeth when they say that.
How else would it change the game?
It would rid the sport of the often-translucent claim that college football is an amateur sport.
The plan could give NFL teams a greater ability to develop players into its systems and internally track their development, even if it means exploding the size of their scouting staffs.
It might help balance the college football playing field, because drafts (which could go as many as 50 rounds to stock two 100-player college teams per franchise, theoretically) would go in the same pattern as they do today - worst team first, best team last.
The conferences and superpower programs like Alabama and Ohio State might not like that, but the overall health of the sport could grow - as it has with the NFL over the recent decades of parody.
Something to think about, however, are how many college teams a pro squad would affiliate with.
This example uses the model of two affiliated college programs for each NFL team.
What then happens to the mid-majors? The FCS schools? The Division II and III teams?
They might lose out on the "money" of this major program, unless they were added into the mix somehow.
If they're not affiliated with NFL teams, there could be a separate smaller-college draft which could bring their players back into the pro football mix.
Is this theory workable?
There's probably another better model than such a brainstorm as this.
However, something needs to change about the sham that is the inability for college players to be fairly compensated for the boatloads of millions and incredible name recognition they provide a university.
Perhaps such NFL involvement could be a solution. Roger Goodell, NCAA...it's your move.
Check out a slideshow above with many of the Packers' 2013 draft picks.