World League of American Football

World League of American Football

Infobox sports league

caption=World League of American Football
sport=American football

champion=Sacramento Surge
The World League of American Football (WLAF) was founded in 1990 with support from the National Football League to play professional American football in North America, Europe and later possibly Asia. This came after the NFL had played popular American Bowls in London's Wembley Stadium and elsewhere since 1986.

The WLAF played two seasons with 10 teams in the spring of 1991 and 1992, with the World Bowl as championship games. Rules unique to WLAF included assigning increasing point value to field goals based on distance, and a requirement that at least one player of non-US nationality participate in at least every other series of downs.

New ideas were successfully tested, like using the two-point conversion rule also on the professional field before adopting it in the NFL in 1994. Other minor tweaks in gameplay, such as a shorter kickoff tee, were also first used in the WLAF.

Also, on live television broadcasts by USA Network, helmet cameras provided spectacular pictures. These were discontinued, though, due to the extra weight of the equipment, and sometimes very aggressive content the cameras picked up. Also the audio coverage of single players that was picked up with parabolic mirror microphones was quite disturbing at times. In 1995, games in Europe were resumed as the World League, in 1998 as NFL Europe and in 2006 as NFL Europa. The league ceased operations on June 29, 2007.

WLAF history

The original WLAF was a spring developmental American football league which had 10 teams playing a 10-game regular season. Two additional franchises were initially proposed in Paris and Mexico City. Teams were aligned in three divisions:
*North American West: Birmingham Fire, Sacramento Surge, San Antonio Riders
*North American East: Montreal Machine, New York/New Jersey Knights, Orlando Thunder, Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks (replaced by Ohio Glory in 1992)
*European: Barcelona Dragons, Frankfurt Galaxy, London Monarchs

The playoff format consisted of four teams: the three divisional champions, plus a wild card with the best overall non-division winning record. The two teams emerging from the World League of American Football semifinal playoffs met at the end of the season in the World Bowl. The first two World Bowl games were held at predetermined locations much like the modern Super Bowl.

The original WLAF was less than popular in the United States. This might also have been caused by the surprising domination of the three Europe-based teams in 1991, which had a combined 24-6 record, while no North American team managed to be better than 5-5. The Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks even lost all 10 games as well as their franchise, which was moved to Ohio for 1992.

In 1992, fortunes changed and the European teams all had losing seasons. Despite this, the European fans remained loyal, but operations of the WLAF were suspended after the 1992 season as the league lost money and the involved NFL owners were not willing to invest more. However, the National Football League still liked the idea of a spring developmental league - and they needed another pro Football league to help their cause in the antitrust and free agency lawsuit with the National Football League Players' Association.

The Sacramento and San Antonio franchises left the WLAF and were set to join the Canadian Football League in 1993. San Antonio folded prior to the season but the Sacramento Gold Miners did play in the CFL for three years, starting the CFL USA initiative created in the wake of the WLAF's suspension.

1991 season

North American East


ee also

*World Bowl
*List of leagues of American football

External links

* NFL Europe website:
* Private Page about the original WLAF:
* MacGille's WLAF, NFLE & NFL Europa Website:
* Natures Images Photography - Photos of the Frankfurt Galaxy home games:

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