Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Proposed new football league plans game in Tampa

TAMPA — A hopeful spring pro football startup league will have a showcase game at Raymond James Stadium in May and plans to resurrect the Tampa Bay Bandits.

During a Thursday news conference in California, the All11 Football League announced six of its eight franchises for a 2015 debut as well as an offensive wrinkle: All 11 players will be eligible to catch a pass. It will have an ESPN2 audience May 17 at Raymond James (and at Dallas' Cotton Bowl on June 5).

Tickets for all seats in Tampa will be $30. Mickey Farrell of the Tampa Sports Authority said Friday that the A11FL will pay it about $150,000.

"I think 30,000 would be a good, reasonable (crowd)," said A11FL president Mike Keller, who has worked with the NFL, USFL and XFL.

The A11FL will be a single entity with central ownership initially. But Keller said it has talked with multiple groups about a 49 percent stake in a Tampa franchise — "wealthy, interested sports individuals" — though he cautioned such an investment would be in the "eight-figure range."

The A11FL plans a 14-game schedule plus playoffs to end in early July — before NFL training camps open. Rosters would be 40-42 players earning $75,000 to $100,000 plus a 50 percent weekly bonus for winning games, and coaches will have "NFL and major-college pedigrees," Keller said. Annual payrolls would be about $4 million per team.

It's the second time in as many years a group has tried to rekindle the USFL's three-year run in the 1980s, when the Bandits were among its most successful teams. One acquired the rights to the league's name in 2012 but never got its version running.

The All11FL announced three teams that share USFL names: the Bandits, New Jersey Generals and L.A. Express. (Other teams are based in San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago.) Keller said the league has secured the rights to use USFL team names but colors and logos will be slightly different.

BUCS TRAINERS: Todd Toriscelli, who worked for the Bucs the past 17 years, 13 as head trainer, was named the Titans' director of sports medicine. The Bucs later announced the hiring of Bobby Slater, who worked with coach Lovie Smith in Chicago, as head trainer.

Around the league

Packers hire Zook: Former Florida coach Ron Zook, 59, was named assistant special teams coach. He went 23-14 at Florida from 2002-04, then 34-51 at Illinois from 2005-11.

Hernandez case: A judge said prosecutors in ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's murder case can't have recordings of his jailhouse phone calls but will allow them to make another request if they present more information. Prosecutors say he allegedly communicated in "coded messages" in calls and visits by his fiancee and cousin, both of whom face charges in connection with the case. Hernandez's lawyer called the state's request a "fishing expedition."

Chiefs: Cornerback Dunta Robinson, 31, was released less than a year after signing a three-year, $13.75 million deal. He played in just nine games because of injuries.

Vikings: Linebacker Erin Henderson, second on the team in tackles in 2013, was released. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI in November and January.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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