It looks like yet another league its tossing its hat into the ring to compete with the NFL. As the XFL and AAF announce uniforms and city locations, former NFL running back Ricky Williams announced on Thursday that the "Freedom Football League" will be joining the ranks. Williams, Terrell Owens and Simeon Rice are among the names associated with the league.
According to Williams, there are about 100 stakeholders with 50 former players among them.
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
"It's a new spring football league," Williams said on ESPN on Thursday. "And it's for the fans and it's by the players. It all started with a bunch of guys sitting around a table, talking about the good old days and realizing 'you know? 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?'"
Other names emerging as early owners are Jeff Garcia and former Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson.
According to ESPN, games will be in the spring and summer (avoiding colliding with the behemoth that is the NFL) and there will initially be 10 teams. The league's mission statement 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."
The league's ultimate goal appears to be to allow people to play football who are out of the NFL or even looking to get back into it. The league is to be funded both privately and publicly, so when Williams says it will be "partly owned by the players, partly owned by the fans, and partly owned by the operators," he means it.
Williams even delved a bit into the political side of the league.
"We're trying to develop young men," he said on "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."
If anything, the league looks like the BIG3, in which former NBA players have been playing in 3v3 basketball. Players like Allen Iverson headline that league, which was founded by Ice Cube. While the rules of this league are likely nowhere near being released, it's likely we can expect the league to be some form of 7-on-7 in which the emphasis is on bigger plays and making sure the players are safe.