Not to be confused with the Alliance of American Football or the XFL, former CFLer Ricky Williams is among 50 former NFL players planning yet another professional football league, the Freedom Football League.
Williams says a 10-team league that also includes Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens – last seen trying to land a job playing in Canada – and approximately 100 stakeholders will be launched as a spring league. The Alliance of American Football, co-founded by Hall of Famer Bill Polian, starts up in February. The XFL will return the following February.
The FFL, which did not specify what year it would begin play, would be financed by private funding and public offerings, with league players, local franchise operators and even fans offered stakes in the teams.
Avoiding some major markets, the FFL plans to have clubs in San Diego, Oakland, St. Louis, Birmingham (Alabama), Oklahoma City, Portland (Oregon), plus in Texas, Florida, Ohio and Connecticut.
“The Freedom Football League is the perfect integration of my passion for social justice, economic equality and health and wellness, with my lifelong dedication and love for professional football,” said Williams, a founding member and owner of the league. “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.”
Williams spent the 2006 CFL season with the Toronto Argonauts while serving an NFL suspension for a fourth violation of its substance abuse policy. He was suspended multiple times during his NFL tenure for marijuana use.
The former Heisman Trophy winner, who retired from football for good in 2011, has advocated for the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. In April, Williams launched his own line of marijuana-based products called Real Wellness by Ricky Williams.
Although he played just one season in Canada, Williams had a lasting impact upon the league. In November 2006, then commissioner introduced the Ricky Williams rule, which prevented a player suspended by the NFL from playing in the CFL.
– with files from CP, AP