McCaffrey on Pac Pro League: We’re not the AAF
The NFL requires players to be at least three years removed from high school before they’re eligible for the league, making football the only major sport that doesn’t allow its athletes to go pro immediately after high school.
Ed McCaffrey wants to change that. McCaffrey, who played 13 years in the NFL, co-founded the Pacific Pro Football League with agent Don Yee and three others, and will be the commissioner of the league when it launches next July.
Pacific Pro aims to provide elite high school and college prospects with an alternate path to pursuing their NFL dreams. Initially, the league will consist of four teams in Southern California, each with 50 players ages 18 to 22. Those players will earn a $50,000 salary, learning the pro-style game from NFL scouts and former coaches, and play in an eight-week season over the summer.
McCaffrey spoke with Sports Business Journal about where the league stands one year from kickoff.
Do you know where the four teams will play?
■ McCAFFREY: We have four letters of understanding with stadiums in Southern California. I don’t know that I’m at liberty to discuss that, but we feel really good about our venues and are excited to kick off.
When do you expect to start recruiting players?
■ McCAFFREY: I would imagine that sometime around the middle of the college season and the beginning of the summer, at least Year 1, will be our window where we’ll extend invitations to players. We will only have between 40 and 50 players per team, so all of our players will play in the games.
Have you reached any agreements with broadcasting rights?
■ McCAFFREY: I don’t know if I’m at liberty to discuss it, but we have secured a media partner.
Does the quick rise and fall of the AAF prompt any concerns about the sustainability of your league?
■ McCAFFREY: No, not really for me. We’re two completely different leagues. … I hoped the AAF succeeded, I hope the XFL succeeds, because that’s just going to provide more opportunities for our players, who are younger, to play professional football.
What’s the funding situation like for the PPF?
■ McCAFFREY: We are trying to make sure that we ensure proper stability from the beginning. I believe we’re very fiscally responsible. We understand that we must create a sustainable budget and financing, and we’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in position to have success financially through the first couple seasons.
Do you plan on expanding the league from its initial four teams?
■ McCAFFREY: We think it’s important to start small, and also to start geographically located in the same part of the country. It just saves on a ton of travel costs. But eventually, Year 3 the goal is to expand to eight teams.