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Shutdown Corner

UFL fails to pay players for Week 1

Shutdown Corner

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The recently exonerated Brian Banks is one of many players trying to make it in the UFL. (BrianBanks.org)

The four-team United Football League started its fourth season of operation on Sept. 19, with the fledgling league receiving a boost from a broadcast agreement with CBS Sports Network, who is airing all 16 regular season games (over eight weeks) this season as well as the Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1.

However, one week into the fourth season the league is already having problems meeting payroll. According to Tom Robinson of The Virginian-Pilot, the standard UFL contract calls for players to be paid in eight weekly installments of $3,500 beginning "on or about Sept. 24".

On Monday night, Davie, Florida-based player agent David Canter, who represents Joe Hastings and Teddy Williams of the Sacramento Mountain Lions and Nic Grigsby of the Las Vegas Locomotives, sounded the alarm over the UFL not making the scheduled payments for last week's games.

Canter followed that up with a series of tweets on this ongoing issue on Tuesday morning:

Week 2 of the UFL's regular season is scheduled to kick off on Wednesday night with the Omaha Nighthawks hosting the Locomotives. As of Wednesday afternoon, Canter informed Shutdown Corner that players still had not been paid and he continues to advise his clients to not practice or play until payment from last week was received. Other agents may be advising their clients to do the same, but that may not prevent players from risking injury and/or non-payment in order to play in the games and put something on tape for NFL talent evaluators. (The NFL practice squad minimum of $5,700 per week is 61 percent more than the minimum weekly salary in the UFL.)

A good example of a player who may play against the advice of his agent is Brian Banks, whose remarkable story has been followed closely by Shutdown Corner. Banks signed with the Locos on Sept. 19, a major step towards realizing his NFL dreams. Banks made his professional debut last week, an appearance cut short by a hamstring injury. Even without getting paid for last week, Banks' determination to reach the NFL will have him in uniform tonight and he sounds ready to return to the field next week.

If there is a next week, that is. If the league fails to make good on payments from Week 1, and misses payments again after Week 2, there may not be a Week 3. On the bright side, a developmental league attempting to operate at the same time as the NFL folding so abruptly could be just the failure the NFL needs to reboot its own developmental league. If that is the case, hopefully they'll have the good sense to operate in the spring when the masses are most-starved for football.

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