The National Spring Football League is set to kick off its inaugural season in the spring of 2014. The twelve team league which includes the Arizona Racers (Goodyear, AZ), the Boston Freedom Fighters (Boston, MA), the Florida Tide (St. Petersburg, FL), the Georgia Blaze (Atlanta, GA), the Los Angeles Explosion, the Ohio Pride (Columbus, OH), Oklahoma Cyclones (Tulsa, OK), Rhode Island Navigators (Providence, RI), the San Antonio Defenders, the San Jose Rush, the Texas Heatseekers (Houston, TX), and the Virginia Beach Stingrays are set to get the inaugural campaign going on March 1, 2014.
With kickoff in less than a year, I had the opportunity to speak with CEO Terrel Parham, the NSFL’s “goal is to create opportunities for our players to reach the NFL or the Canadian Football League. Also to help coaches, management be able to development and move on to the NFL and Canadian Football League.” Parham continued to say that the twelve team league will operate much like the Arena Football League, utilizing a low budget structure in its first season. He stated that they were originally going to go with the individual franchise ownership but it just didn’t work for right now.
Parham isn’t alone in running the NSFL, he has a full staff of people that their soul goal is the success of the league. Parham currently has 16 positions in the NSFL Front Office including former NFL star Dexter Carter. Carter was the first-round selection of the San Francisco 49ers in 1990. Carter is serving as the league’s Southeast Regional Director. Michael Greer is the President of Football Operations and Player Personnel Director. Greer spent some time with the USFL as the first-round selection of the Los Angeles Express. After the USFL folded, he joined the Los Angeles Raiders spending two seasons with them. He spent two years each with the Atlanta Falcons, Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, and the Barcelona Dragons in the World League of American Football. Out of the 16 positions, two have not been filled as this article posting. The league is still searching for a league commissioner and the head of officials. They have a person in mind for the head of officials but still are working on the commissioner’s spot.
Each area of the nation has a regional director, along with Carter, Larry Toombs is the Northeast Director, Ray Clay is taking care of the West region while Everett Hernandez is manning the Southwest region.
As far as the players, they will be playing under a modified version of the NFL rules. Parham stated that one of the rule modifications is taken from the Canadian Football League. In the CFL, all punts and kickoffs are returned with a 5-yard buffer for the returner. This essentially takes away from any players waving off the punt, but giving them room to make a play. The referee’s used will be college and high school officials. They will use the exhibition games as time to hone their skills as far as calling the NFL modified rules. Parham stated that the NFL officials cannot be used until their Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2017. Even then, it might not happen due to the CBA rules restricting the referee’s movement to a developmental league. Perhaps by the time the CBA needs to approved, the NSFL can be utilized to not only develop the players and front office people but also a chance for the men in black and white as well.
When the season starts, the players’ goal is to get to the championship game in Orlando, Florida to play for the Pat Tillman Trophy. The NSFL has been working with the Pat Tillman Foundation and hopes to honor the former Arizona Cardinal who gave up his NFL career to serve in the military when the war overseas first started. Tillman was killed while on duty and is remembered as a hero.
The players will have league support during their season. Along with a $500 a week pay, the players will also have worker’s compensation insurance, serious injury insurance, and AFLAC. Players will be allowed to work during the season to support them. An agreement with ManPower Services has recently been made to aid the players in establishing some type of employment in their teams’ hometown.
The NSFL currently does not have a major television contract but hopes after one season that will change. In the meantime, the league will rely on local television stations to help broadcast games. “With a majority of the teams in the major markets already, they pretty much have a national broadcast,” Parham states.
With their season set for kickoff, check them out on their website: thensfl.com. You can also follow along as the Pigskin Report will be following the NSFL.
-Jeff Magnia is the beat writer for the NSFL.
Filed under: Arena/Adult Amateur Football