Developmental Simulation Football League

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Developmental Simulation Football League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2050 DSFL season
SportAmerican football
Founded (2018-05-01)May 1, 2018 (43 years ago)
Inaugural season2018 (S3)
No. of teams8
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
Most recent
Norfolk Seawolves
(3 Titles)
Most titlesTijuana Luchadores
(8 Titles)

The Developmental Simulation Football League (DSFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 8 teams, divided equally between the Northern Football Conference (NFC) and the Southern Football Conference (SFC). The DSFL's 14-week regular season runs from late September to late December, with each team playing 14 games. Following the conclusion of the regular season, the top two teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Ultimini Bowl, which is usually held in early February[1], and is played between the champions of the NFC and SFC. The current DSFL champions are the Norfolk Seawolves, who won in Ultimini XXXV by defeating the Kansas City Coyotes.

The DSFL was formed in 2018 after an expansion for a developmental league was approved by the NSFL's governing body. It was formed to allow younger players to get some professional experience and feed the NSFL with players via the annual draft. It was formed with six teams, before expanding 18 years later to include two more teams (in London and Dallas). Both teams played their first season in 2037. The DSFL's executive officer is the commissioner, who has broad authority in governing the league, though the Owner and a committee of executives also contribute to the overall governance of the league.




At the conclusion of the 2035 season, the NSFL allowed expansion requests for new DSFL teams in response to the increasing popularity of both leagues. Expansion had been an idea that the NSFL had entertained since the 2030 season but now with confirmed increases in popularity, the governors board gave the green light for expansion. Out of the interested parties, Two pitches were accepted. The first was the Dallas Birddogs based in Dallas, TX. Texas had always been a strong market for the NSFL, especially the success of the Austin Copperheads in drawing crowds so the DSFL team proposal was given the green light. The second was the London Royals based in London, UK. The proposal at first confused the league and governors board, who didn't believe any market existed for American Football in London. Despite these concerns, the London Royals management convinced the league that there was a market in London and thus was granted an expansion franchise. Both teams played their first seasons in 2037.


The DSFL consists of 8 clubs divided into two conferences of 4 teams in each. During the regular season, each team is allowed a maximum of 53 players on its roster; only 46 of these may be active (eligible to play) on game days. Each team can also have a 10-player practice squad separate from its main roster – though this is effectively only used to retain the rights of suspended players. A player can only be in the DSFL for a maximum of four seasons.

Each DSFL club is granted a franchise, the league's authorization for the team to operate in its home city. This franchise covers 'Home Territory' (the 75 miles surrounding the city limits, or, if the team is within 100 miles of another league city, half the distance between the two cities) and 'Home Marketing Area' (Home Territory plus the rest of the state the club operates in, as well as the area the team operates its training camp in for the duration of the camp). Each DSFL member has the exclusive right to host professional football games inside its Home Territory and the exclusive right to advertise, promote, and host events in its Home Marketing Area. In cases where multiple teams operate in the same city or the same state (e.g. California), they share the rights to the city's Home Territory and the state's Home Marketing Area, respectively.

While most teams (NSFL included) are based in the United States, there are exceptions. The Tijuana Luchadores are based in Mexico and the London Royals are based in United Kingdom.

Season format

The DSFL season format consists of a four-week preseason, a fourteen-week regular season (each team plays 14 games), and a four-team single-elimination playoff culminating in the Ultimini Bowl, the league's championship game.


Each DSFL team is required to schedule four preseason games, two of which must be at its home stadium. Preseason games are exhibition matches and do not count towards records or regular-season totals. Because the preseason does not count towards standings, teams generally do not focus on winning games; instead, they are used by coaches to evaluate their teams and by players to show their performance, both to their current team and to other teams if they get cut.

Regular season

Currently, each team faces every team in their division twice, one at home, once away, and each team in the other division once, two at home and three away, or vice-versa, over the 14-game regular season schedule. All DSFL games for a given match week are played on the same day.


Following the conclusion of the regular season, a four-team single elimination tournament, the DSFL Playoffs, is held. The second and third-placed division teams face each other in the wildcard round, with the division winners earning a bye to the conference championship game. The wildcard winners face the top seed from their division in the conference game. The winners of these games then proceed to the Ultimini Bowl, for the DSFL Championship. All playoff games are held to the stadium of the team with the better regular season record.

The only other postseason event hosted by the DSFL is the Pro Bowl, the league's all-star game.

Trophies and awards

Team trophies

Since inception, the National Simulation Football League has used the Ultimus Trophy to honor its champion each season. A new Ultimini Trophy is issued to each year's champion, who maintains permanent control of it. The Trophies are made by Tiffany & Co. out of sterling silver and are worth anywhere from US$12,500 to US$150,000. Additionally, each player on the winning team, as well as coaches and personnel, are awarded Ultimini rings to commemorate their victory. The winning team chooses the company that makes the rings; each ring design varies, with the DSFL mandating certain ring specifications (which have a degree of room for deviation), in addition to requiring the Ultimini logo be on at least one side of the ring. The losing team are also awarded rings, which must be no more than half as valuable as the winners' rings, but those are almost never worn.

The conference champions also receive trophies for their achievement. The champions of the NFC used to receive the Northern Star Trophy, while the SFC champions would receive the Southern Peak Trophy. These trophies have now been reverted to their original names of NFC Championship and SFC Championship, respectively. Players on conference winning teams also receive a conference championship ring.

Player and coach awards

The DSFL recognizes a number of awards for its players and coaches at its annual DSFL Awards Show. The most prestigious awards are the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and Most Outstanding Player, decided by the Awards Committee and the DSFL Player Association respectively.

Other major awards include the Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Breakout Player of the Year, and the Rookie of the Year awards.

Another prestigious award is the Most Dedicated Member award, which recognizes a player's off-field work in addition to his on-field performance. The General Manager of the Year award – almost always shared by a team's management duo – is the highest award for non-playing personnel.

On occasion, organisations affiliated with the DSFL also give out weekly awards, or awards in recognition of a player's performance in a specific game, though this has not been common.


Once per year, the DSFL holds a draft for college players. The draft length varies, but is typically at least four rounds, with each of the eight clubs getting one pick in each round. The draft order for non-playoff teams is determined by regular-season record; among playoff teams, teams are first ranked by the furthest round of the playoffs they reached, and then are ranked by regular-season record. For example, any team that reached the Ultimini Bowl will be given a higher pick than any team that lost in the conference championships. The Ultimini Bowl champion always drafts last, and the losing team from the Ultimini Bowl always drafts next-to-last. All potential draftees must write an application to the DSFL – and be approved – prior to draft day to be eligible. By declaring for the draft, they also forego any remaining college eligibility.

Clubs are required to make their selection within a certain period of time, the exact time depending on which round the pick is made in. If they fail to do so on time, the clubs behind them can begin to select their players in order, but they do not lose the pick outright. Selected players are only allowed to negotiate contracts with the team that picked them, but are not obligated to sign. In a case where a player refuses to sign, a club may choose to trade the player's rights to another team. Clubs may also trade away picks for future draft picks if they wish. If a player refuses to sign a contract, they are not allowed to participate in team or league training events. After an entire season has passed without a player signing a contract, they are treated as a regular free agent.

Under the current DSFL rules, all drafted players must be offered a minimum one-year deal worth at least $500,000 per season. There is no upper limit to contract value, other than salary cap limitations. Players who were draft eligible but not picked in the draft are free to sign with any club after the draft has been completed.

The DSFL may also operate other drafts in addition to the DSFL draft. For example, the league may hold an expansion draft, the most recent happening in 2036 when the London Royals and Dallas Birddogs will begin play as expansion teams. The DSFL does not actively maintain a protocol for a disaster draft, though contingency plans have been discussed.


  1. "NSFL Scheduling Procedure". NSFLWiki. November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.