DFI: We Bought It, We’ll Build It
(LOS ANGELES) - The scalability of developmental football is immense, which is why DFI bought and built its brand around the category.
Last year, 16,175 college football players were eligible for the NFL draft.
Only 256 of them were drafted. When it comes to playing professional football, to say the odds are stacked against you is a gross understatement—Americans have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, (1 in 12,000), or equally as painful, getting audited by the IRS (1 in 175.)
The prospect of going to the pros, is the carrot that helps draw these students in, while the NFL, which maintains a strong trust in these college programs, has the ability to examine and vet potential draft picks.
NFL coaches can call their college counterparts for updates about players, or more importantly, for film of them. Now they can count on DFI for the same thing.
The numbers of players who advance from the flooded college work pool is slim. Only 1.6-percent of seniors will play at the next level. It seems more likely that one of them will be struck by lightning while debating his tax-deductible donations with unfeeling state bureaucrats, than be in the league right now.
Standing out from the crowd and impressing a scout is hard enough, but for borderline players, or those from smaller programs, getting in front of one may be even harder, if not impossible.
Some players simply need more time to develop. Some need a second chance. Others still need their first. Developmental football fills the need of these niche groups. DFI is a replacement, in many ways, of the traditional college football model.
It’s for the athletes whose financial needs cannot, or would not be met by the college football community; for those whose mistakes have cost them an opportunity; for those who simply have no interest in four more years of school or the hefty price tag that might be attached.
And sometimes, they’re for those who just love playing football.
DFI’s goals, policies, and philosophies, as specific, as is their careful selection of franchisees and locality.
DFI executives note that successful teams are built from humble beginnings, similar to how the NFL began. The original teams were essentially local clubs - the Green Bay Packers got their moniker because Lambeau’s employer paid for their uniforms.
In building from the ground up, DFI insists on a firm foundation in their small towns and limited spheres of influence. Local corporations support their broad community impact efforts as much or more than their football aspirations.
DFI believes the future of non-NFL football actually lies in the NFL’s past: local teams, with local kids, filled with redemption stories, and players whose primary motivation is a love of the game and a desire to keep playing it.
For the next generation of professional footballers, the road to glory might not start with the Alabama Crimson Tide, but with the California Sharks, the Saddleback Valley Rangers, or the SoCal Coyotes, and the humble beginnings of DFI.