A new pro football league announced Wednesday it plans to begin hiring players in winter 2017 and staging games in summer 2018.
The Pacific Pro Football League is for players who have graduated from high school but aren’t in college and haven’t been out for three years in order to make themselves eligible for the NFL. The four-team league, based in Southern California, says it will pay players an average salary of $50,000 and play eight games “under professional football rules, protocols and style,” according to a statement sent out by the league.
Each team will have 50 players, according to the league, with coaches coming from the professional and college ranks. The players will also receive paid tuition and books at local community colleges.
Don Yee, who is Tom Brady‘s agent, is among the founders of the league, along with former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. Bradley Edwards, Jeffrey Husvar and John Chung are also among the league’s officers.
“Pac Pro’s concept of ‘education’ is expansive. Every team will have a counselor to help players develop their interests academically and/or vocationally, and assist with coordinating meaningful internships in their fields of interest,” Yee said in a statement.
Edwards, the league’s chief operating officer, said that Pac Pro closed a round of angel investing and is looking at sponsors and facilities.
Also on the league’s advisory board are former head coach Mike Shanahan, former NFL executive Jim Steeg, current Fox NFL officiating analyst Mike Pereira, former chief strategist for the John McCain campaign Steve Schmidt and ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter’s role is unpaid, and he will be available for league officials to consult as needed.
“Professional football is a very specialized game; it demands precise techniques and a certain mental approach,” Shanahan said in a statement. “Pac Pro’s time has come, and these fantastic athletes will be well trained for the pro game on and off the field.”
This is the second football league to spring up recently. In December, the NFL notified its 32 teams of a spring development league that will operate in April 2017 and will work with NFL veterans who do not have contracts.
Mike Shanahan coached college or pro football for 37 seasons, including head stints in Oakland, Washington and Denver, where he won two Super Bowls.
Ed McCaffrey played 13 seasons in the NFL, winning three Super Bowls, before becoming a prominent football father – one son, Christian, is turning pro out of Stanford as another, Dylan, is headed to Michigan.
Donald Yee is in his 29th year as a sports agent, a job where he has represented NFL coaches and players ranging from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady to guys looking to stick with a practice squad.
From three different backgrounds came one unifying realization – there is a gap in the current system both for certain players to reach the NFL as well as how the NFL can identify talent.
Now they are about to do something about it.
The three are spearheading Pacific Pro Football, which is set to begin play in the summer of 2018. This is a new professional league, yet it isn’t looking to compete with the NFL – a la the now-deceased USFL or XFL.
It is instead, a right-sized developmental option for young players. It has the potential to change the route to the NFL for many who neither want, nor find worth, in the current NCAA system. And it will give the NFL, which is often frustrated at the style of play and the secrecy of the college ranks, a place with a preferable set-up for training and identifying potential draft picks.
“The need is there from both the players and the NFL,” Yee told Yahoo Sports. “This is neither the NFL nor the NCAA. It’s a supplement to the other products and we are convinced there is a market for this.”
Here are the basics:
• A four-team league based in Southern California. Each 50-player team will be owned/employed by the league, not individuals.
• Players can participate only in their first four years out of high school. This is an alternative to college. While the NFL still requires a draft-eligible prospect to be three years removed from his final year of high school, Pac Pro will allow players to join right out of high school, or after a year or two at a major college, junior college or whatever.
• Total compensation is about $50,000 per season. There is also full worker’s comp and, among other things, a tuition reimbursement at a community college should a player choose to use it in the offseason.
• Six regular-season games and two rounds of playoffs, so teams will play seven to eight games.
• The season runs each Sunday in July and August, finishing before the start of the opening of the NFL and college campaigns.
• Each team will have eight full-time coaches with pro and college experience, plus about eight part-time assistant coaches.
• Play will be pro-style, and based on development and evaluation. For instance, there will be no spread offenses. Quarterbacks will take snaps under center, need to call plays in the huddle and identify defenses at the line of scrimmage. There will be a premium put on one-on-one plays to get viable tape. For example, perhaps rules that prohibit crossing routes for receivers.
• Every player will play. While games will be competitive, with small rosters and brief seasons there will be snaps and opportunities for everyone, particularly in practice. No one is getting buried on a depth chart or losing a season of teaching while residing in a coach’s doghouse.
“Pro football is a specialized game,” Shanahan said. “It demands precise techniques and a certain mental approach.”