With the failure of NFL Europe -- largely because of the cost and the next-to-useless arrangement with the CFL -- the NFL is back to the place where it has almost always been: A major league sport without a viable feeder system.
The NFL doesn't see the void as a dead issue, however, and it came up again this week in talks with the players' association.
"One of the concerns if you go from four pre-season games down to two pre-season games is that for younger players -- particularly quarterbacks and maybe offensive linemen who need game experience to develop -- you would be losing that," Packers president Mark Murphy said.
"A lot of people had a really positive experience with NFL Europe. So one of the thoughts is the possibility of a developmental league to maybe have some games in the spring as well as some games in the fall with a real focus on developing younger players."
Speaking on behalf of the NFL owners, Murphy suggested it might behoove the league to develop a feeder system rivalling the other big U.S. pro sports.
"If you look across most professional sports, we're the only league without some type of minor league or developmental system to develop players," Murphy said of the NFL.