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*Lengthy intro ahead, sorry everyone.*


I have always wanted the NFL to adopt a minor league system.  In reality, it would be such a huge help to NFL franchises to develop lower-round picks and undrafted players, be a testing ground for new rules, and it would create more money for the shield, which would be the real reason why I could see them do it.  Anyway, as much as I would love to see minor league teams go nuts in terms of design and aesthetics, being a product of the No Fun League would definitely limit what teams could do.  That being said, I have created my version of the NFL Development League, or NFLDL (rolls right off the tongue), which is how I think a NFL minor league system would actually happen. Here are some of the things I took into consideration when developing this project:

-There will be 32 teams, which means each NFL team gets a NFLDL team. 

         -2 conferences, 4 divisions each

-One thing that drives me nuts about minor leagues is that many teams have affiliates that are across the country from each other (I'm looking at you, Mets), so all NFLDL teams are within a few hour drive of their parent club.  

-Since the NFL prohibits fun, I tried to be as realistic as possible when naming the teams and making the identities and uniforms.  Some teams will be named after their NFL affiliate, but I limited it to four (for comparison - 6 AHL teams and 4 AAA baseball teams are named after their parent club). 

-The divisions make geographical sense (no AFC East), and I tried to put some teams in the same division with their NFL divisional opponents. 

-The NFLDL would use the NFL schedule as a guideline:

          -NFLDL would have an 11 week season, 10 games with 1 bye.  There wouldn't be a preseason, because theoretically most players would be in NFL training camp or fighting for a spot on the NFL roster.  Each team would play their division twice (6 games) and one in-conference division (4 games).  Playoffs are the same format as the NFL, just earlier: WC round week 12, Divisional round week 13, Conference champ. week 14, BYE/AS game week 15, and the NFLDL Championship week 16; this allows for players to be called-up for week 17 (which is normally garbage time for 75% of the league) and the NFL playoffs.

-Uniform guidelines: Each team can have up to two helmets, three pants that can be worn with any uniform, and one home (color), away (white), and alternate jersey.  Each helmet will have uniform number on the left back side, and the parent club logo on the right (there are exceptions, though).


The league:

league map.png

Pacific Football Conference                              Atlantic Football Conference

Coastal                                                                  Coastal

Portland, OR (Seattle)                                           Lowell, MA (New England)

Sacramento, CA (Oakland)                                    Hartford, CT (NY Giants)

Modesto, CA (San Diego)                                      Newark, NJ (NY Jets)                   

Bakersfield, CA (San Francisco)                            Dover, DE (Baltimore)


Central                                                                   Central

Colorado Springs, CO (Denver)                             Richmond, VA (Washington)

Tucson, AZ (Arizona)                                              Columbia, SC (Carolina)

Las Vegas, NV (Los Angeles)                                 Birmingham, AL (Tennessee)

San Antonio, TX (Houston)                                     Jackson, MS (New Orleans)


Heartland                                                                South

Des Moines, IA (Minnesota)                                    Macon, GA (Atlanta)

Peoria, IL (Chicago)                                                Savannah, GA (Jacksonville)

Tulsa, OK (Dallas)                                                   Orlando, FL (Miami)

Topeka, KS (Kansas City)                                       Clearwater, FL (Tampa Bay)


North                                                                       North

Milwaukee, WI (Green Bay)                                     Rochester, NY (Buffalo)

Grand Rapids, MI (Detroit)                                      Akron, OH (Cleveland)

Fort Wayne, IN (Indianapolis)                                  Scranton, PA (Pittsburgh)

Dayton, OH (Cincinnati)                                          Allentown, PA (Philadelphia)


I won't be getting into simulating the seasons or anything because frankly, I have no idea how to do it.  If someone has a suggestion on how to do it, I'll definitely look into it.  Hope everyone enjoys this, and please do not be afraid to give me any C&C, I'm pretty new at designing logos/uniforms on a computer so any feedback is good feedback.


So, now that my novel is over, here is the first team:

Introducing the revamped Birmingham Americans, the NFLDL affiliate of the Tennessee Titans.  The logo is supposed to be a simplified and cleaner version of the 90s USFL logo.  The uniforms use the three stripes from the star throughout, and are always on a blue background. 

birmingham americans.png


birmingham uniforms update.png

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My only counterpoint to your intro is that I have no issue with parent clubs having minor league farm teams far away.. I think it gives them the opportunity to scout multiple areas more thoroughly and draw local talent from two regions, rather than just one.. 

Also, those red numerals on the blue jersey would be brutal from the press box or on film.. They really should be white

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This is a great idea. I've always wondered why the NFL didn't do something like this.


Birmingham looks really nice. The logo could use some cleaning up, though. The stripes don't quite extend to the edges of the star, and I'm not sure whether or not you intended for the points of the star to be hanging over the edges of the A, but you either need to fix that or make it more clear that that was what you intended.


One other thing I'd like to point out: it looks like you switched Vegas and Topeka in your division alignment.

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Huge project! You've got a good start here too. I like how you've set up the rules of the league. Well done there. Looking forward to seeing this develop.


Couple of general thoughts:


- I think the league logo adaption could be improved. I know that was just a quick edit, but based on the research you've put into the project already I think you could come up with some cool ideas for a new logo that would also still pay homage to the NFL logo.


- Something about the conference initials threw me off, especially "AFC", since it's the same as the mother league. I like your Atlantic/Pacific ideas, but I'd consider renaming the conferences to something that would provide unique initials.


- Birmingham: I like the idea. I think the three stripes could be thickened and sharpened against the edges of the A, as well as the star edges being adjusted as mentioned before. If you want to keep the red numbers on the home jersey the white outline definitely needs to be thickened, also goes for the NOB. Bright red and bright blue don't contrast well together. I also think the logos are a tad too large on the helmets, but that's just my personal preference.


Keep it up.



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I would suggest that the shape of the star on the Birmingham logo be swapped with the the star shape of the American flag (it would also align nicely with the shape of the stars on the Titans shield logo you have used). Here is a simple way to make the star adjustment in Illustrator: http://johnbhall.com/2012/03/normal-illustrator-star-american-flag/

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I love the idea. I have a few questions about the execution.


How large are the stadiums that you would want to put these teams in? I ask because you have a team in Lowell, MA, but I can tell you that there really is no spot to put it outside of an existing high school field. UMass Lowell got rid of their football field in about 2010 and replaced it with their blue field hockey field.


If you wanted to put a team in New England, there are a few places to put it. You could put it in Boston itself, either at Boston College's field or at Harvard's field. If a 30K stadium is too big, you could put it in Durham, NH at UNH's field that seats 11K.

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