By Michael Teich
A group of former NFL stars are launching an alternative professional football league for the offseason that will give players and fans a financial stake in their team's success.
“We looked for markets where there was not a professional team, but a big enough market to support a team,” Ricky Williams, former two-time All American and one of the founders, told Cheddar in an interview on Tuesday.
The planned Freedom Football League will initially have 10 teams ー San Diego, Oakland, Birmingham, St. Louis, Texas, Oklahoma City, Portland, Ohio, Floria, and Connecticut were named as the first crop of cities to welcome teams from the FFL.
It marks a major divergence from the XFL, another professional league aiming to give fans a dose of football during the NFL offseason. The XFL, backed by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, announced last week the eight cities it will bring teams to in its inaugural season in 2020. The XFL will reportedly be targeting major TV markets including New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
Williams said part of what makes the Freedom Football League unique is its ownership structure ー the purchase of season tickets will allow fans to own part of the team.
“It’ll be like owning a stock. If you’re team is doing well and making money, you’ll be getting a check in the mail.”
Players, too, will own part of the team, Williams added.
Williams also referenced the Freedom Football League’s approach to player health and safety as a differentiator from the NFL. Concussions and CTE have been a difficult issue for the NFL to manage. Almost 300 concussions were reported during the 2017 season, the highest total in any season since the league began sharing data in 2012.
“They’re making an attempt,” he said. But “the structure of the ownership is really old-school.”
His main role in the league will be director of health and wellness, a position that will allow him to make players’ safety on and off the field a priority.
For full interview click here.