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Will Birmingham have an inaugural franchise in the North American Football League?

September 9, 2014
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In a press release, the North American Football League announces that Birmingham will have a franchise in the league's inaugural season in the spring of 2015.

The local team will be named the Birmingham Freedom. Team colors will be red, dark blue, and medium blue. The league's website states the team name and colors are symbolic of the role Birmingham played in the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's.

Other teams named are Columbus Flight, Hartford Merchantmen, Kentucky Thoroughbreds, Memphis Kings, North Carolina Redwolves, Orlando Sentinels, and Virginia Crusaders. The Kentucky team will be based in Louisville, the North Carolina team will be based in Raleigh-Durham, and the Virginia team will be based in Richmond. The league plans to ultimately field 16 teams across the country by 2019, expanding every 2 years by 4 teams.

NAFL Enterprises president Christopher White doesn't believe this is the next XFL, which folded after one season in 2001. Some of the NAFL's objectives, however, will be the same as what World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon and others, such as the defunct All-American Football League, have tried to achieve. "First and foremost, this is an entertainment business. But we want to create an environment similar to an NFL or NCAA game with our professionalism," White said.

For at least the first 4 years of operation, the NAFL's teams will be owned by the league, which White said is in the process of becoming publicly traded. Investors will be able to buy into as much as 49% of a club and purchase a larger share once the league has some stability. When expansion is complete after the first 4 years, team owners will own and operate the league with an appointed commissioner. Currently, each team owner has or will have minority ownership and is responsible for hiring internal football and business operations staff.

NAFL seasons will start in May and run to late July, which is before players report to NFL camps, giving the league's players the chance to return to the top level each year. "We are not a developmental league at all. In my opinion, the NFL already has a multi-billion dollar developmental league called the NCAA, and it's free. We're here to be a professional spring football league," White said.

The NAFL will not change the way football is played. It will be American rules football with no gimmicky rules. But it will amp up the entertainment factor. "We want to incorporate more of a fan experience. We will bring technology to the fans, and fans will do things like help draft and help call plays. There will also be entertainment before and after the games, with concerts by well-known artists. We want it to be all about the fans. When you come to the game with your family, you'll enjoy the experience and entertainment and, oh also, there is a great football game going on," White said. The league is also debuting a sports network, which will provide live streaming and broadcasts of NAFL games as well as reality-based programs on teams.

Drafts for the NAFL will be held annually. The first year will be a lottery draft. Each team will have one pick in each round. Each year the NAFL will hold 8 regional combines for interested players to showcase their talent for league personnel. Players will be selected from the regional combines to be entered into the draft pool. Teams will have an active roster of 46 players and a practice squad of 7 players. In order to capture and engage the overseas fan base, each team will have a minimum of one foreign player on their roster.

The NAFL has completed the financing phase and is now in the in process of executing business and marketing plans. The NAFL has been working quietly behind the scenes for the past 4 years putting together a solid foundation to ensure league viability for years to come.

"One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle was putting a team in a non-NFL city. And Birmingham definitely fits our league. Looking at the markets, people from Alabama and Birmingham are big on football. They want to be fans of something," White said.

April 21, 2015
The NAFL announces that the league's board of directors has decided to postpone their inaugural season until 2016.

The North American Football League claimed to have financing in place but their lack of progress made those claims suspect. The NAFL never played a game.
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Last update: January 12, 2018