Are you ready for some football? I am. I’ve been an NFL fan for many years, recently got into the CFL and hope to soon be watching the EFLI: Elite Football League of India.
Yes, American football in India. No, this isn’t a story from The Onion.
According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, the eight-team league, which will begin play in Nov. 2012, is being backed by investors such as Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski, Michael Irvin and Brandon Chillar (the Indian-American linebacker formerly of the Green Bay Packers).
The founding teams are the Hyderabad Skykings, Bhubaneswar Warhawks, Goa Swarm, Mumbai Gladiators, Dehi Royal Fleet, Punjab Warriors, Pune Blacktigers and Kolkata Vipers. Sorry, no Bengals or Browns.
“India has no history of american football, but backers sure cuz country is crazy about american entertainment, this will fly,” Kaplan tweeted, adding in another tweet: “They are training rugby players right now. Top rugby coaches involved. Seriously unlikely any US players would got there.”
Rugby players? Seriously? Rugby may be the closest sport to football, but that’s like preparing for the PGA tour by playing croquet.
As for Kaplan’s contention that US players wouldn’t go to India, I have to disagree. As long as team owners can pay decent money, players who can’t crack the NFL, CFL, AFL or UFL would be willing to go to India. Who knows, maybe even Chillar might suit up for the Warriors and Brett Favre might come out of retirement to throw a few INTs for the Skykings.
Kaplan says the league “seems like a stretch” and I have to agree. But you have to start somewhere. Maybe by 2032, India will have a competitive football league, and you and I will be glued to the TV, watching Marshall Williams Manning lead the Bhubaneswar Warhawks over Arjun Tendulkar and the Pune Blacktigers.
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