Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Keeping Pro Dreams Alive | Spring Football League Says It's on Track for February

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Keeping Pro Dreams Alive | Spring Football League Says It's on Track for February

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

BRADENTON -- They are men who thought they might be out out of options, but aren't ready to let go of a dream.

Forty or so Major League Football hopefuls gathered at IMG Academy on Saturday, sprinting through drills and running routes as a team of coaches and officers, many with connections to the National Football League, looked on.

Tryouts are taking place across the country as Major League Football looks for talent to field a spring football league as it decides where the eight-team league will play.

It's a tight timeline for the Lakewood Ranch-based company that plans to host a monthlong training camp for players and coaches at Premier Sports Campus in February

before its inaugural season in March. But with a private Texas investment firm backing the organization to the tune of $20 million, Major League Football appears poised to commence its first season.

On Saturday potential players, many of whom were once high school stars, pursued the chance to be part of the new league. It's that dream that brought them here -- to keep playing ball -- and the uncertain chance that this upstart professional football league will prove a path to the National Football League.

"It's another opportunity to play professional football," said Brion Carnes, a former Manatee High quarterback who went on to play for Nebraska and Northern Iowa, and then in the Arena Football League. "It's helping me and other young players prepare ourselves to play in the NFL."

While officers seem wary of calling themselves a "developmental league" from a marketing perspective, in practice the concept seems to suit everyone just fine. The executive team, which includes former NFL players Ivory Sully, Wes Chandler and Dean Dalton, former Chicago Bears General Manager Jerry Vainisi and more recently, NFL coach and football analyst Herm Edwards, maintain that the NFL could benefit from a league that would help young players struggling to navigate the transition from college ball.

"It's not to blame the (NFL)," said future Major League Football coach Buddy Geis, who has coached at the professional and collegiate level, most recently for Georgia Tech. "They just don't have the time."

Major League Football will welcome players leaving for the NFL, said Geis, who also coached the Jacksonville Bulls, of the United States Football League, from 1984-85. …

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