Under Center: The NFL In The New Millennium

Chapter Sixteen, Part Twenty-Three: More FFL & The Freak Leaves
January 11, 2017: Media speculation abounds regarding a shocking Sports Illustrated report about the FFL’s finances, which are soon after verified by other insiders. The novice league, considered cutting edge for their innovative advertising and player brands, quickly becomes a joke.

January 12, 2017: In a stunning reversal, New York Knights utility man and two-time FFL MVP Tyreek “the Freak” Hill announces he will void the rest of his contract and enter the NFL Draft. Hill, considered the FFL’s top star and most marketable player, lit up the league with his continuous agile and creative playmaking abilities. His announcement creates an even larger challenge for the vulnerable young league, who will be forced to play without their superstar. Hill, although considered a top prospect, is dogged early-on by questions of how his style will play out in the NFL, and whether or not he will be able to maintain his dominance in the senior league.

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Very good idea, one that I will gladly try and fit into the story. Any ideas as to where it should be? (I’m asking that generally, by the way, not just to you)
If you want to go just by geography; Bangor, Maine as it has the closest International Airport to the UK as the crow flies, and can easily handle large charter flights. While a high end training camp could be built in the area, and despite it being Pats territory the team wouldn't mind, the only hangup is the city's overall size and remote location. Commercial flights to the UK would't be possible for such a small area, so the team's British personnel who might need to go home would have to catch a shuttle flight to Boston or another large city first.
 
Also @Calcaterra what stadiums are each team in the NFL and FFL playing in?
Well... I was once going to put together a spreadsheet with all of that information, but I wasn't up to it. Many in the NFL play in the same locations they play in IRL. I do have a few examples of butterflies and such, including the Cowboys, who play in an alternate new Cowboys Stadium (I think it's still in Irving, although the specifics elude me). The Jets and Giants share a stadium in Manhattan on the site of the proposed West Side Stadium, the succinctly named "Manhattan Stadium", the largest home ground in the league, with over 100,000 able to be seated under the dome. The Las Vegas Express play in NuWave Stadium, on the site of what is IRL Allegiant Stadium. The Toronto Stallions, formerly Buffalo Bills, play in Rogers Centre. The Eagles play at the Link but have played games, as a penalty, at Motorola Stadium in Piscataway. The Calgary Cardinals play at McMahon Stadium, while the "Alberta Coliseum" is being constructed, scheduled to be completed by 2018. Internationally, the Mexico City Aztecs play in Estadio Azteca, while the London Monarchs play in Wembley Stadium. The Indianapolis Colts play in the "Anthem Dome", an 80,000 seater domed stadium that looks fairly similar to Lucas Oil. The Los Angeles Rams and Raiders both play in the 85,000 seater (105,000 possible seats) Walt Disney Stadium, originally called Hollywood Stadium before the Disney corporation nabbed the naming rights. I think that's all that I've changed, most other things went similar to IRL or just stayed the same for the NFL.

The FFL stadiums are for another day, I'm afraid.
 
If you want to go just by geography; Bangor, Maine as it has the closest International Airport to the UK as the crow flies, and can easily handle large charter flights. While a high end training camp could be built in the area, and despite it being Pats territory the team wouldn't mind, the only hangup is the city's overall size and remote location. Commercial flights to the UK would't be possible for such a small area, so the team's British personnel who might need to go home would have to catch a shuttle flight to Boston or another large city first.
That would definitely be nice, although I think we've spotted the problem with that location right at the end. The purpose of the North American facilities, if I'm correct, would be to streamline logistics and transport, which would not be accomplished as easily if there wasn't an immediate ability to return back to the UK.
 
Chapter Sixteen, Part Twenty-Four: 2016-2017 Divisional Round & Dak To Draft
January 14, 2017: In the NFC Divisional Round, the top-seed Los Angeles Rams defeat the six-seed New Orleans Saints, 38-31, as Matt Ryan passes for two touchdowns and 312 yards, while AJ McCarron passes for three touchdowns, 343 yards, and an interception. The game goes down to overtime after the Rams come back from a 24-7 halftime deficit, where the coin flip goes in favor of LA, who win on an Adrian Peterson 25-yard rushing touchdown. Peterson rushes for two touchdowns and 149 yards and gets the game ball from coach Pete Carroll. The game marks the end of the “Super Saints” miracle season, universally recognized as one of the most incredible turn arounds in NFL history. The Rams go onto face either the Packers or Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

January 14, 2017: In the AFC Divisional Round, the top-seed Miami Dolphins defeat the four-seed Jacksonville Jaguars, 45-31, as Russell Wilson passes for four touchdowns, 387 yards while rushing for an additional touchdown and 83 yards, fumbling once. Jimmy Garoppolo passes for two touchdowns, 298 yards, and two interceptions, fueling a late comeback attempt that is thwarted by his second interceptions, thrown clean into the welcoming hands of Dolphins CB Kyle Fuller, who returns it for a game-sealing touchdown. The Dolphins will advance to face either the Raiders or Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

January 15, 2017: In the NFC Divisional Round, the second-seed Green Bay Packers defeat the four-seed New York Giants, 21-13, as Jay Cutler passes for one touchdown and 255 yards, while Drew Brees passes for two touchdowns, 287 yards, and two interceptions. The game is marked by heavy Green Bay snow, causing problems with the passing game on both sides. The Packers will advance to face the Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

January 15, 2017: In the AFC Divisional Round, the three-seed Los Angeles Raiders defeat the two-seed Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-14, as Aaron Rodgers passes for two touchdowns and 284 yards, while Derek Carr passes for two touchdowns and 225 yards. The Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch rushes for a fourth-quarter touchdown, from his own 45, to break a tie and win the game for the Raiders. Los Angeles will go onto face the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game.

January 16, 2017: On the final day for prospects to declare for the NFL Draft, Salt Lake Legion QB Dak Prescott announces that he will leave the FFL and take his chances in the draft. Prescott considered an elite quarterback by FFL standards, is criticized in the media for his drop off in production in the 2016 season, and his questionable accuracy during clutch situations. Nonetheless, his declaration is greeted with enthusiasm by analysts, who grade him as a mid-first rounder, usurping Carson Wentz and fellow FFL product Mitch Trubisky on many draft boards.

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Chapter Sixteen, Part Twenty-Five: Emergency & The 2016-2017 Conference Championships
January 18, 2017: The FFL holds an emergency meeting of it’s team owners and executives, headed by Commissioner Bill Rasmussen and CEO Vince McMahon. It is agreed that the league is unprofitable in the current form it has taken, although solutions are few and far between, as folding teams would only decrease the brand value further, and selling at the current NFL offer would leave some owners with a loss and others with terribly unfavorable positions. It is agreed, however, that the Halifax Sailors and Atlanta Apollos, the two least profitable teams, would be taken over by the league, in order for their ownership groups to cut their losses. The two teams are effectively put into “administration” with funds tightened and profits maximized at every point.

January 22, 2017: In the AFC Championship Game, the Miami Dolphins defeat the Los Angeles Raiders, 27-21, in overtime. Russell Wilson passes for two touchdowns and 313 yards, while Aaron Rodgers passes for three touchdowns and 329 yards. The game, down to the wire, remained tied at 21-21 at the end of the fourth quarter, eventually leading to the Dolphins winning the coin toss and charging towards the end zone, leading to a clutch Russell Wilson touchdown pass. Raiders’ Head Coach Bill Belichick, after the game, goes viral for his lack of emotion after the loss, saying “We’ll be in the mix next year”. Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Raiders, reaffirms his support for Belichick and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and pledges that this is merely an aberration on an otherwise promising journey to the big game. The explosive Dolphins will face either the Rams or Packers in Super Bowl LI.

January 22, 2017: In the NFC Championship Game, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-10, in a historic upset. Jay Cutler passes for three touchdowns, 338 yards, and an interception, while Matt Ryan passes for a single touchdown, 265 yards and two interceptions. The game begins with the Rams scoring a touchdown in the first three minutes, although things quickly went south. The Packers stormed to a touchdown of their own within five plays, four of which involved vertical passing, including the scoring play that saw Green Bay WR Calvin Johnson “burn” Rams CB Richard Sherman on the way to the end zone. From that point, a highly criticized coaching decision by the Rams’ Pete Carroll, to throw the ball on fourth and third while on their own 47 (allegedly due to a similar situation costing them their Week 17) resulted in a tide-turning pick-six. From that point, the Packers didn’t look back, dominating the heavily favored Rams, only allowing them an additional three points. The Packers advance to face the Dolphins in Super Bowl LI, held in NuWave Stadium in Las Vegas.

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Chapter Sixteen, Part Twenty-Six: Goodbye Vick, St. Louis Trouble, National Bowl 2017, Bye Bye Billick, & Down Goes Johnny
January 26, 2017: The Buccaneers’ Michael Vick, former MVP and longtime quarterback for the Falcons, announces his retirement from the NFL, after sixteen seasons in the league. Vick, considered one of the most athletic players to ever join the ranks of the NFL, was picked first overall by the Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft, and quickly became a phenomenon. His team came to dominate the unstable NFC South, at one point earning the top seed in the NFC, although his career was derailed by a drug-related arrest that spurned a search of his home, revealing his involvement in a dogfighting ring. He served three years in prison before he was released and signed with the Falcons’ rival NFC South team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His Bucs squad frequently found themselves at odds with the Luck-Reid Falcons powerhouse, and the competitive post-Favre Saints. Vick will leave the league a controversial figure although, perhaps, the greatest mobile quarterback to play in the league. He announces that he will attempt to join coaching ranks in the post-playing period of his life.

January 28, 2017: The St. Louis Stars are put into “administration” by the FFL, after the board of majority shareholder Anheuser-Busch judges that the wisest move is to end the shaky investment. The franchise’s instability is the latest dagger to the league, which will likely run on a loss if projected costs and profits hold true.

January 29, 2017: In the Nation Bowl, the #1-ranked Tennessee Volunteers defeat the #4-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 49-16, as Josh Rosen passes for six touchdowns and 458 yards, while Jake Fromm passes for only two touchdowns, 245 yards, and two interceptions. Rosen is named the game’s MVP, although the Tennessee defense is widely commended for a great showing. The Vols’ D held an offense that won 12 games and averaged 35 points per game to a mere 16, with most of those points coming in garbage time when the result was already decided. Tennessee’s Jamal Adams, their star defensive player, bolsters his first-round draft stock by nabbing a pick-six, the only non-Rosen touchdown for Tennessee in the game.

January 31, 2017: The Dallas Cowboys announce they will part ways with longtime head coach Brian Billick, after an up and down season that sees them miss the playoffs a year removed from an NFC Divisional Round appearance.

February 2, 2017: The Kansas City Chiefs cut ties with QB Johnny Manziel after a domestic violence arrest. Manziel, a former first-round pick, had an up and down three seasons with the team, notable for stretches of both astonishingly bad play and astoundingly great comebacks. The main issues with Manziel, however, proved to be that the bad play was much more frequent then the good and his work ethic wasn’t up to par with his counterparts. He is effectively blackballed from the NFL due to his arrest, and he is placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list. Further, it is rumored that the moment Manziel signs with an NFL team, he will be fined for his previous behavior.

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Chapter Sixteen, Part Twenty-Seven: 2016-2017 NFL Honors & Super Bowl LI
February 4, 2017: Dolphins QB Russell Wilson wins the NFL MVP Award (1) and Joe Montana Award (1), after a season in which he threw for 43 touchdowns, only five interceptions, 5,007 yards, and a 118.6 passer rating, to go along with six rushing touchdowns and 827 rushing yards. David Johnson of the New Orleans Saints wins the Jim Brown Offensive Player of the Year. Dan Quinn of the New Orleans Saints wins the Coach of the Year Award (1). QB Jared Goff of the Monarchs wins the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, after a campaign that sees him put up 20/9 TD-INT, a 58.6 completion percentage, and two rushing TDs. DE Joe Bosa of the Indianapolis Colts wins the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, with 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

February 5, 2017: The Green Bay Packers defeat the Miami Dolphins, 29-24, in Super Bowl LI. Jay Cutler is named Super Bowl MVP, after passing for two touchdowns, 314 yards, and one interception. Russell Wilson passes for two touchdowns and 322 yards, rushing for an additional touchdown, 62 yards, and fumbling once. The game is close throughout, featuring two lead changes in the fourth quarter, and an opening pair of drives that both result in touchdowns. The game-winning goal-line stand by the Packers defense that thwarts the Dolphins’ from scoring is praised as an iconic sequence, particularly the final play, in which the ball is snapped to Wilson, throws the ball, only for LB Jamie Collins to deflect the pass.

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Chapter Seventeen, Part One: A Source For A Source & Numbers Are Up
February 6, 2017: It is leaked that the anonymous Sports Illustrated source who first reported the FFL’s shaky financial status was likely an NFL executive. The source allegedly released the information with the intention of destabilizing the upstart league, driving down its value and reducing its ability to compete for sponsors and players.

February 7, 2017: The viewership numbers for the Super Bowl are announced. The game set a new record for domestic viewership, as an estimated 121.3 million people in the US tuned in to the game, while 20.25 million Canadians, over half of the nation’s population, watched the iconic championship. In Mexico, the broadcast drew 4.08 million viewers, down from projections but still a strong showing relative to previous years. In the UK, where the game airs late at night, the live viewership was, on average, around 8.47 million, exceeding projections, while the replay on February 6 drew an additional 4.66 million viewers, again exceeding projections. These ratings are taken as further strengthening the case for expansion, especially into the newly-NFL crazed Canadian market.

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Jesus THAT many people were watching the Super Bowl?
Usually, Super Bowl ratings have been just under that. I'm factoring in the fact that I've buffed up the NFL quite a bit, and the game itself was pretty good. The only real deviation from anything normal, in my mind at least, is the UK ratings, which are probably stronger than they should be, although that could be factored in as an outlier.
 
Chapter Seventeen, Part Two: LAWSUIT, Ben Goes Big, & The Boroughs Battle
February 10, 2017: Vince McMahon files a lawsuit against the NFL for damages to the reputation and value of the FFL through the spreading of confidential information. The lawsuit, which claims that the NFL is liable for $870 million in potential lost profits and brand damage, is also backed by FFL Commissioner Rasmussen and the controlling owners of FFL teams. The NFL has signaled their intention to fight the case in court, setting up the largest sports-legal battle since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fought to the Supreme Court to allow for states to legislate regarding gambling (Christie v. NCAA, Christie won), and possibly since the USFL sued the NFL in the 1980s for similar reasons.

February 12, 2017: Ben Roethlisberger is traded to the Dallas Cowboys for the Cowboys’ 2017 first-round pick, along with a 2018 sixth-round pick. The Broncos also aroused speculation that they will pursue former Cowboys quarterback Kirk Cousins on the free-agent market, or possibly attempt to draft a quarterback to replace Roethlisberger.

February 14, 2017: The Five Boroughs Group debacle becomes even more pronounced, as Michael Bloomberg makes it intensely clear to his partners that in no way will the group become bogged down by the McMahon v. NFL case. The legal battle includes fellow Five Boroughs Group partner Donald Trump in his capacity as owner of the FFL’s New York Knights, and will likely create controversy that would be damaging if the group became engaged.

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