The NFL lockout could very well be a boom to the United Football League's ability to attract new players.
According to Jerry Glanville, one of two former NFL coaches to recently take over a UFL team, the younger league's focus is on players who aren't drafted by the NFL, but who NFL teams seek to sign after the draft.
Should the lockout continue through the April 28-30 draft, the UFL might not be competing with the NFL in its efforts to sign undrafted players -- 11 percent of whom, Glanville said, were starters in the NFL last season. That's because the NFL wouldn't allow its teams to sign those or any other players who didn't have contracts before the lockout.
"I can guarantee you, I'll be sitting on somebody's doorstep," said Glanville, the new coach and general manager of the Hartford Colonials. "Back when I was with the Falcons, they used to fly me all around the country, and the minute the draft was over, I'd pounce on 'em like a panther. I'd have my own little private plane, and I'd fly all over to get these guys. Well, now that's going to be our league.
"The minute the draft was over, I'd pounce on 'em like a panther."
-- Jerry Glanville on signing undrafted free agents
"What (NFL players) want (in the labor dispute), we're not in that league (financially). But we are in the league (for) the young player that just needs to be seen and needs his pass protection strengthened or his coverage strengthened. If we can get that 11 percent this year because there is a (work stoppage in the NFL) ... that will change the UFL. And those are the guys that make the NFL, that bottom 11 percent that ends up starting."
In the meantime, they can learn from Glanville and Marty Schottenheimer, who recently was hired to coach the Virginia Destroyers. They join two other ex-NFL head coaches, Dennis Green (Sacramento Mountain Lions) and Jim Fassel (Las Vegas Locomotives), who already were in the five-team league.
"If you're a coach, you're a coach," Glanville said of what pulled him and the others back to the sideline. "That never leaves you. To me, you're a teacher; you're trying to get people to be better than they were yesterday."
And the education ultimately could pay off with the opportunity for UFL players to end up in the NFL. According to Glanville, 18 former Hartford players signed with NFL teams last year and six coaches from the Colonials staff also were hired in the NFL.
Glanville and Schottenheimer bring different, distinctive personalities to the UFL.
Glanville is one of the more colorful coaches the game has ever seen. He was known for dressing all in black, a la Johnny Cash, and leaving tickets at the will-call window for Elvis Presley -- just in case "The King" really was still alive and wanted to take in a football game. Glanville would infuriate and antagonize opposing coaches -- such as Schottenheimer, with whom he had a heated rivalry while Glanville guided the Oilers and Schottenheimer led the Browns in the former AFC Central -- with inflammatory comments to the media and a willingness to run up the score whenever possible with his high-scoring, run-and-shoot offense.
Earlier this week, Glanville hired a prominent former NFL assistant, Tim Krumrie, to coach his defensive line. Krumrie also gained a reputation for irreverence while working as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals (for whom also played defensive line), Buffalo Bills and Chiefs. His highly vocal and spirited approach would make for entertaining sessions when he worked with defensive linemen in practice. And he prompted more than his share of double-takes when he put college prospects through intensive hand-to-hand combat drills during pre-draft workouts.
Schottenheimer's reputation is much more businesslike, although he brings considerable intensity to the job. His fiery locker-room and sideline speeches are NFL Films classics.
"The fun of the job is watching a guy you didn't think was going to help you end up winning the game," Glanville said. "It's all about being a teacher."