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Freedom Football League to kick off soon — and NFL founders encourage players to protest, speak out on social justice


The league will have 10 teams and already has about 100 stakeholders

NFL Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens (Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The Freedom Football League — founded by former NFL players Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens, Simeon Rice, and others — is planning to make its debut and already has 50 players on board.

The New York Post reported that there are about 100 stakeholders in the league.

What are the details?

According to ESPN, 50 former NFL players are involved in the league, which will encourage players to speak out about social justice and protest however they see fit.

Williams, 41, told ESPN that the league is "trying to develop young men."

"You can't take away their voice and expect them to develop," said Williams, a former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Texas. "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," he continued, "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."

Williams added that he wanted to create a league that he could have stayed in "and been comfortable and really thrived."

"The purpose of this league ... is about community and the development of players," said Williams, who played 12 years in the NFL.

"The NFL started a long time ago, and since then a lot of things have changed," he explained. "And we want to create a league that's ready for that change and invite some more of it."

What else?

In a statement, the Freedom Football League said that its mission 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."

According to ESPN, the league would be financed through private funding and public offerings, "meaning fans would be 'true owners and legally-committed business partners.'"

The Post reported Thursday that the league will have 10 teams in different cities in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas.

It is unclear at this time as to when the Freedom Football League will kick off.

The Post also reported that the Alliance of American Football will kick off in February, and the XFL will return in 2020.

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