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New American football development league formed

A new professional American football league for players just out of high school has been formed in the United States as a means to offer an alternative route to the college system.

Pacific Pro Football (Pac Pro) is the first league of its kind and has been formed by Donald Yee, agent of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady, in partnership with former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.

The league will initially feature four teams based in Southern California, with initial player employment offers, which will include one year of paid tuition and books at local colleges, projected for winter 2017 before the inaugural season begins in summer 2018.

Pac Pro is said to be America’s first professional football league to utilise and compensate players that are not eligible for other professional leagues. Average annual salary and benefits for each player is projected at $50,000 (€47,000), with each team set to have 50 players that will be coached by former professional and college coaches.

Organisers said the league, which will only feature eight games per season, will create hundreds of new jobs. It will also serve as a development ground for coaches, officials and executives and a ‘football lab’ for developing technologies, smart apparel and content distributors.

“Pac Pro's concept of 'education' is expansive,” Yee said. “Every team will have a counsellor to help players develop their interests academically and/or vocationally, and assist with coordinating meaningful internships in their fields of interest.”

Pac Pro’s advisory board includes Super Bowl champion head coach Mike Shanahan, former NFL senior vice-president Jim Steeg, officiating expert Mike Pereira and Adam Schefter, a reporter for US sports broadcaster ESPN. Commentator Steve Schmidt will also serve on the advisory board.

Yee will serve as Pac Pro’s chief executive. Bradley Edwards, a former NFL and ESPN executive, is the league’s chief operating officer, while Jeffrey Husvar, former executive vice-president of Fox Sports Digital, will serve as chief content officer. John Chung has been appointed chief financial officer.

Pac Pro recently closed its angel round of financing and is in discussions with prospective content distributors, sponsors, facilities and local political leaders.