Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens Launch The 'Freedom Football League'

Move over XFL and AAF, there's another new football league in town.

The Freedom Football League, founded by a coalition 50 former NFL players including Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams and Hall-Of-Famer Terrell Owens, says it’s different because from the other upstarts with its player-centric approach, upending the traditional ownership model in pro football and enabling fans and players the ability to purchase ownership of the individual teams.

“The Freedom Football League is truly unique in the way that it rethinks so many aspects of the game of football, starting with ownership and money," Williams told Benzinga. "As a former player and life-long follower of the sport, I am personally very proud that our league allows both players and fans to join the movement as owners.

"The phrase ‘Billionaires Not Allowed’ is a core piece of the FFL's ideology which goes beyond just money to represent to our desire to keep player and fan interests at the heart of everything we do.”

Spring Football League Doesn't Look To Compete With NFL, NCAA

The league will start with 10 teams: San Diego Warriors, Oklahoma City Power, Portland Progress, Texas Revolution, Ohio Players, Florida Strong, Birmingham Kings, St. Louis Independence, Connecticut Underground and Oakland Panthers.

The league will play in the spring and says it's not in direct competition with the NFL or the NCAA.

Williams, no stranger to controversy during his NFL run, said the league will encourage players social commentary, in stark contrast to the NFL.

"The purpose of this league ... is about community and the development of players... In thinking about creating this league, I wanted to create a league that I could have stayed in and been comfortable and really thrived," he told ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

Williams also said he wants to maintain a regional approach to teams, cultivating local talent as opposed to how professional teams rarely are able to attract or keep local stars on their team.

XFL, AAF Will Be Key Competitors

The real competition for the FFL will come from the XFL and AAF.

The XFL just announced it will kick off in 2020 with eight teams: Dallas, St. Louis, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C. This is a big second chance for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. WWE's Vince McMahon, who has self-funded the league and is sparing no expense, committing to spend up to $500 million in the first three seasons. The league named former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck as commissioner.

The Alliance of American Football will be the first new league to get started, launching its inaugural season Feb. 9, 2019, one week after the Super Bowl and will air on CBS. The league also has a regional approach, giving teams first rights to players from local colleges.

“That’s one of the really exciting things about the league. If they played at Utah State or Utah or BYU, we get their first rights,” Salt Lake Stallions Team President Tyler Howell said at the team’s uniform unveiling event. “To have guys like Jeremiah (Poutasi) or Cardon (Malan) here from Utah and Weber State is awesome; there’s already a fanbase built. We already have four years of loyalty to these guys, so we get to just extend that.”

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Posted In: AAFColin KaepernickFFLNCAAnflRicky WilliamsTerrell OwensTyler HolwellVince McMahonXFLNewsSportsExclusivesInterviewGeneral

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