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Strongside Blitz

By Joe Platania, PressBox Staff

The All-American Football League will begin play next spring with eight teams based in college towns and playing in on-campus stadiums.

The concept is interesting: the league will play a 10-week season beginning in April with the league paying the players' $100,000 salaries. The league will require players to have graduated from college, and it will feature those who have not latched on to an NFL team.

Former NCAA president and Arizona athletic director Cedric Dempsey will run the league and one of the its financial backers is former Ravens executive vice president James Bailey.

"We don't see ourselves as a competitor to the NFL," Bailey told The Associated Press. "They're going to get the best players, but we think there are plenty of good players who don't make the NFL that can play good quality football and good exciting football and have connections to their local areas."

Long before the United States Football League tried to compete with the NFL, the World Football League tried to make inroads in the mid-'70s.

With names like the Philadelphia Bell, the Hawaii Hawaiians and other catchy monikers, the league stole some big-name talent from the NFL, like Miami running back legend Larry Csonka.

It eventually fizzled out after a couple of years, but the WFL, the USFL and NFL have one thing in common: Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, who worked for the Hawaiians and the USFL's New Orleans Breakers before an NFL career that has spanned five organizations.

Many Baltimore fans followed the Canadian Football League, even before the Baltimore Stallions competed in it for two years, winning a Grey Cup title in 1995.

In a recent CFL game, ex-Maryland receiver Geroy Simon could be seen playing for the British Columbia Lions. Not only is he a starter, he led the pass-happy league through the season's first four weeks with 29 catches.

Former Baltimore Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer was recently granted permission to wear John Brodie's retired No. 12 jersey with the San Francisco 49ers.
Brodie, who suffered a stroke several years ago, was more than happy to let the number be brought out of mothballs. After he left football, Brodie became one of the best celebrity golfers anywhere; golf is a passion that Dilfer shares with him.

It's important to remember Brodie when talking about great San Francisco quarterbacks of the past. Joe Montana and Steve Young have their deserved place, but Brodie steered the 'Niners' ship through some very tough times with some very tough play.

Issue 1.16: August 10, 2006