This article appeared in The Birmingham (Alabama) News on Dec. 6, 1999.
SPRING FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Bo Jackson buys franchise, eyes Legion Field
By ED ODEVEN
News staff writer
Bo knows opportunity.
The ex-McAdory High, Auburn and NFL great will be back in Birmingham today to discuss fielding his newly purchased professional football franchise at Legion Field this spring.
Bo Jackson is scheduled to meet today with Mayor Bernard Kincaid about the new Birmingham franchise of the Spring Football League — an eight-team league that begins in March with a 12-team inaugural season.
Kenny Rogers, the SFL’s vice president of league development, said Jackson contemplated investing money in a Chicago-based franchise. But he decided his roots were too strong.
“Bo really wanted to come back to Birmingham,” said Rogers, who starred at running back for Mississippi State from 1982-85. This is his hometown.”
Other NFL stars considering becoming owners include Eric Dickerson and Tony Dorsett.
The league will begin with franchises in Birmingham; Canton, Ohio; Houston, Jackson, Miss.; Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and Washington, D.C.
“Gosh, this is news,” said Melvin Miller, director of the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Department of discussions about using Legion Field. The Park Board oversees the stadium.
If the team plays at Legion Field, arrangements must be made that won’t conflict with the stadium’s regular maintenance schedule, Miller said.
“We’ll just see what we have in store,” Miller said.
The SFL envisions itself as a “developmental league for the NFL,” Rogers said. The new league does not, however, have such an agreement with the NFL.
The SFL also plans to provide opportunities for front office personnel, coaches, scouts, game officials and other employees to gain experience to enable them to work for the NFL.
A two-day player scouting combine will be held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 21-22.
The SFL has designated Memorial Day weekend as the annual date for its league championship.
Unlike the NFL, all SFL players will be given equal salary and be paid by the league office. Additional incentives or bonuses may be distributed by team owners.
Information about the league is available on its website: http://www.springfootball.com.
Afterword: The Spring Football League scaled down its plans and four teams (Houston Marshals, Miami Tropics, San Antonio Matadors and Los Angeles Dragons) played in the inaugural 2000 season. The league lasted one season and the Birmingham franchise never played a game.