MLFB Promises Football Year-Round

Sports

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JUN 8, 2015

The most ambitious effort to run an American professional football league in the spring will be launched from a corporate headquarters in Lakewood Ranch, and multiple pro teams will use the Premiere Sports Campus as a training ground. Officials with Major League Football made the announcement on Friday that Manatee County, weeks after the approval of more than $200,000 in tax incentives, will serve as home to this potential sports revolution.

Officials with the new league stress, though, that the league should not be viewed as any type of affront or competitor to the NFL. “We won’t compete with the NFL or Major League Baseball,” said Ivory Sully, MLFB executive vice president of branding and licensing. “We are not a feeder league of any type, but we are here to help develop young men and their football skills.” While not technically a sub-organization like Minor Legaue Baseball, Sully predicts the league will shepherd some players left behind in the NFL draft until they are ready for for the big time. The hope is that the league will be embraced by hardcore football plans who want to see professional football played year-round.

The MLFB will launch its first season in Spring of 2016, at which time league officials hope to have 10 teams, all owned by the league itself, in emerging markets throughout the country. At least one team will be based in Florida—in Orlando. No team will be headquartered in Manatee County, at least at first. Teams have been announced for Little Rock, Arkansas; Birmingham, Alabama; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, among other markets. 

Sully, who played in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Bucanneers in the 1985-86 season after several years with the Los Angeles Rams, said talent will be scouted among those players who did well in college but didn’t get drafted, or maybe those who did but got cut at training camp. Open tryouts will be held by teams. Sully also noted that the league would put resources toward teaching the young athletes how to properly manage their finances and their own behavior, a timely promise given high-profile controversies surrounding several NFL players in the last season.

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