New Football League Hopes to Be Training Ground for NFL Clubs

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS - Former St. Louis Cardinals All-Pro defensive back Roger Wehrli has been named commissioner of a new minor league football system which organizers hope will eventually serve as a training ground for the National Football League.

No one from Oklahoma has presented a proposal to buy a franchise team, said league organizer Ed Watkins.

The St. Louis league will establish financial and organizational standards for its teams. Teams will be modeled after the Pueblo (Colo.) Crusaders, the premier minor league football organization in the nation. Pueblo will be one of the league's charter members, with the St. Louis Football Gamblers.

"While there are a number of semi-professional football leagues in operation throughout the nation, there is no national standard of play," said Wehrli, who played with the Cardinals from 1969-82.

"Some organizations, like the Pueblo Crusaders, are run professionally and play before big crowds. Other teams are organized on the parking lot before games, and this lack of organization and commitment is usually reflected in their play.

"When a fan comes to one of our games, we want him to know that he will see a quality product. At the same time, we want to give the NFL a talent pool to evaluate players. National Football League leaders have been talking about the need for a viable minor league system since my days in the NFL."

Wehrli said it would be up to the NFL to officially recognize or "sanction" a minor league system.

"We're out to prove that a standardized, quality minor league system is viable, and something the NFL should take a look at," he said. …


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