A collection of 50 former players, led by former NFL running back Ricky Williams, announced Thursday the launch of a new professional football league called the Freedom Football League.
According to a release, other former players involved in the coalition of former players include: Terrell Owens, Byron Chamberlain, Simeon Rice, Jeff Garcia and Dexter Jackson.
The first ten teams include San Diego Warriors, Oklahoma City Power, Portland Progress, Texas Revolution, Ohio Players, Florida Strong, Birmingham Kings, St. Louis Independence, Connecticut Underground and Oakland Panthers. Play will happen during the spring and summer beginning in 2020.
BREAKING: Former Pro Bowler Ricky Williams announces new Freedom Football League, founded in part by former NFL players. Teams will be "partly owned by the players, partly owned by the fans, and partly owned by the operators." pic.twitter.com/sEonBKygr9— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) December 6, 2018
The league indicated four pillars on which it will operate:
— Providing permanent and reliable holistic health and wellness support on and off the field
— Encouraging athletes to address society’s challenges
— Re-imagining the game for fans by creating a new spectator experience
— Establishing economic justice via financial incentives through joint ownership and further eliminating financial exploitation
“The Freedom Football League is the perfect integration of my passion for social justice, economic equality and health and wellness, with my life-long dedication and love for professional football,” Williams said in the release. “As much as I’d like to throw on the pads and play, this league is designed to bring competitive football back to the masses, providing players and fans alike with the economic benefits of owning stake in a team, while also ensuring players are empowered to use their public platform for social good.”
The Freedom Football League intends to attract “football players at their highest level of athletic ability, including those defecting from the NFL, graduating college or high school or playing in international or alternative professional football leagues.”
Each team in the FFL will be owned by a combination of former NFL players, active FFL players, local operators and fans.
The FFL will have to compete for talent with the Alliance of American Football (AAF), which begins play in 2019, and the XFL, which begins play in 2020.