With the Alternative professional football leagues, including the XFL and Alliance of American Football (AAF) rise in popularity, former NFL player, Ricky Williams, recently announced the creation of a new professional league composed primarily of former NFL players called the "Freedom Football League."
The mission statement of the new league is "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."
Joining Williams as a part of the new league are former NFL players Terrell Owens, Simeon Rice, and former Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson to name a few. The teams of the league will be governed by shared ownership between players, fans, and operators of the teams. They will also be funded both privately and publicly. They will begin by forming 10 teams with the hope of expanding from there. Thus far, approximately 100 stakeholders and 50 former NFL players are already affiliated with the new league and invested in its success.
Williams shared with ESPN in an interview last week: "It's a new spring football league, and it's for the fans and it's by the players. We have a lot of experience. We've been there before, we know how to do it, what if we started a league and really made it about developing young men?'"
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
In addition to playing their games during the spring and summer months, which is typically the off season for the traditionally played fall and winter games of the NFL, another unique focus of the Freedom Football League will be to empower players to use their platform as professional players to be vocal about issues and happenings that they deem important.
"We're trying to develop young men," Williams said on ESPN’s "Outside the Lines." "You can't take away their voice and expect them to develop. ... When I grew up watching football, I really wanted to be like Jim Brown, not because of what he did on a field, but because he could take that platform and have a voice. And so, when I got to the NFL expecting that to be the case, anytime a big social issue came up we were told: 'Be quiet ... It's a distraction.' And so really [we're] changing the conversation."