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Fort Payne

A chat with Fan Controlled Football Commissioner Ray Austin

As previously discussed in this column, Fan Controlled Football has served as a hidden gem for football fans in the spring. As the league plans for big third season, we sat down with co-founder and Commissioner Ray Austin to talk about how FCF got started and where it’s going.

FCF is headquartered in Atlanta and plays all its games at Pullman Yards.

While similar to the USFL playing the entirety of their inaugural season in Birmingham, FCF offers a unique experience. That experience is one that doesn’t slow down, combining a faster-paced game with second-screen synergy that connects with a younger crowd.

Imagine bringing your kid to an NFL game. Now imagine taking them to a day-long party where you see Marshawn Lynch or Chad Johnson walking around. The two don’t compare – for parent or child.

WATCH: 10 Most Memorable Moments from FCF’s Season 2.0

Football video games such as Madden or Tecmo Bowl were touchstones for those born in the ’80s and ’90s. They helped to cultivate a more passionate fan base for the sport than the previous generation.

Fan Controlled Football’s approach to the sport could prove to be the engine that secures a fanbase for football at-large for decades to come.

“This generation is used to 7-on-7. That’s all they do now,” said Austin. “They’re used to the 1-on-1 drill when they see the man-up drill for an extra point. That’s this generation.

“So, when you sprinkle those things in with old school [stuff] like “Make It, Take It,” it joins those generations and makes a dope product.”

Austin was generous with his time for the latest episode of the Throw the Flag Sports podcast. Through his work as co-founder and chief brand officer with ATHLYT, his generosity extends to athletic departments that the new NIL (name, image, likeness) system passes over.

“We saw what was going to happen with NIL,” Austin said. “Everyone was going to focus on the 5-stars coming out of high school. That’s not what NIL was made for. It was made for everybody.

“So we’re focusing on the 98%, starting off with HBCUs, NAIA schools, and D3 schools.”

Austin and his team at FCF aren’t stopping at football. The inevitable FCF empire is set to launch Fan Controlled Hoops in the coming year.

If you’ve played “NBA Jam” before, this is something to look forward to.

Is it beyond imagination that FCF could start pulling players away from the NFL, directly out of college, like the old USFL used to intercept from the league? Players now get paid legally before they graduate, and priorities could shift to do something a little crazier than enter the NFL.

“Look at the people who’ve walked through our field in just one season,” said Austin. “Marshawn Lynch, Terrell Owens, Antonio Brown, Michael Irvin. You’ve got bigger and bigger stars that want to come hang out with us.”

Fan Controlled Football’s innovative but responsible approach has yielded a product that looks a lot stronger than previous spring leagues in their second year. We’re looking forward to the league’s third season and listeners of Throw The Flag Sports should get ready for a lot more coverage of FCF.

Ray Austin played college ball at Tennessee and, in the pros, for the Jets and Bears. He can be found on Instagram at @rayaustin36.

Listen to Throw the Flag Sports wherever you get your podcasts for the full discussion with Ray. The show includes Austin being an extremely good sport after finding out he was talking to two Alabama fans. Also, Sean basically botches the entire interview in the first minute.

 

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