This week’s “A11FL Q&A” is with A11 Football League co-founder Steve Humphries. Humphries brings seven years of cutting-edge football operations experience to the league’s development, and is leading the charge in the league’s alternative media strategy.
How exciting is it for you to be the co-creator of a professional football league that will have both modern elements and elements that bring pro football back to its roots?
The A11 experiment in 2007 and 2008 showed how exciting this game can be, and that it looks just like the game of football everyone loves, just more spread by design. Once we add coaches and players competing and creating a knowledge base of this new game, it will be real interesting to see it stacks up against fall football. In the Bleacher Report's article about the Top 25 NCAA Quarterbacks for 2013, seven of the first 10 would be A11FL quarterbacks. Pretty awesome.
How pleased are you with the executives the A11FL has assembled to date, and also with the early progress of the A11FL?
Hiring Scott McKibben as CEO and Mike Keller as President and COO give this league the best chance of success. As former head of the Rose Bowl, McKibben has strong relationships with university presidents, heads of major conferences, sponsorship partners and media partners. He even had a hand in the development of the new NCAA football playoff championships.
Keller has a lifetime of experience bringing start-up football leagues and teams to market, so he understands the herculean effort with all the moving parts involved in this type of enterprise.
They and the rest of the A11FL team are making tremendous early progress, all of which is necessary over the next 18 months before we kickoff our first season.
How fast will fans find out about the A11FL's charter markets?
There is an ideal timeframe of approximately 15-18 months to properly build the fan bases of each team and give our season-ticket teams the best chance to fill the stadiums. We know fans attach their loyalty to teams over "the league," so we are working as fast as possible to put a few more things in place before the markets are announced. We have one shot to do our roll-out right, and that's our goal. So, sooner than later.
How is the A11FL working to not become victim of the pitfalls of past alternative football leagues?
Our 20-plus-month roll-out helps significantly with keeping the organizational and financial plan of the league on track. We also put a lot of best practices in place, especially considering our President was involved with virtually every major football league that has launched or attempted to launch in the past two decades.
Our commitment to playing a slightly different, more wide-open game in the spring is key. We do not compete with fall football, and believe our style of play will even create a dual path for NCAA superstar athletes who do not fit the mold of NFL position-specific players. These versatile quarterbacks fit the A11FL game perfectly and will have career opportunities in big stadiums as A11FL players.
How important is the fan to the success of the A11FL?
We have a great opportunity and a great responsibility to be true to our fans and include our fans in the development of the League. The relationships that we are building with our A11FL fans builds upon our knowledge of nurturing tens of thousands of coaches and fans of our style of football since 2007. Our goal is to treat our fans like we would want to be treated. Our mantra continues to be - built for the fans, by the fans.
What are your expectations for the A11FL in 2015?
When the first two teams kick off on approximately March 15, 2015, I expect our fans will be happily supporting a league that has worked tirelessly to put a top-tier professional football product on the field. Fans will enjoy a family-friendly and affordable major stadium experience featuring teams with exceptional athletes at every position playing throughout the spring and into early summer. After the season is over, our commitment to the fans won't stop with the final whistle. Our coaches and players will spend time in their communities building relationships and getting ready for a successful second season. With our fans’ help, we know we can get there.