VFL hopes to score with new fan-driven league

Ray Austin develops interactive FCFL
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 9:46 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It’s always great to catch up with former Vols like Ray Austin, who played under coach Phillip Fulmer in the late 90′s. He went on to a career in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and then transitioned into modeling and acting, even securing a role on the hit show “Empire.”

Austin is also a businessman who founded the FCFL, the Fan Controlled Football league, which puts the play calling in the hands of the fan. He says, ”With the FCFL, we’re going to have four teams in the league, and they’re going to be built by the fans. So just imagine you, you being a part of what the brand looks like, what the colors of the team was, the name of the team. What type of plays the team is going to run, you’re going to go, I’m going to hit the roads great, I’m going to hit the road all over the world. When, after this pandemic and all the things kind of, you know and, we’re going to do national combines.”

Austin adds the pandemic has changed sports forever, with fans not having to be in the stands to take part. He believes this will be the perfect outlet for those armchair quarterbacks. As for how he got the idea for the league Ray says, “When I was in Chicago in 2013, I came up with this idea of how can fans be more engaged in what’s going on the field so I said, you know, everybody’s connected to their cell phone, so I did a proof of concept app, came up with an app that allows plays to be called. So I went to a semi-pro football game, and two teams were playing and I told both teams to stay afterwards, I got the phone numbers from both coaches, I got the phone number from the first coach and said ‘hey coach, you run a sweep. I told the other coach to play cover two. And there I was learning controlling the game from the stands. So from there, me and my three partners got together and six years later, we are fully funded. We are going to take this to the next level.”

As for the future of football and his new league Ray says, “This is a new kind of a way to approach the game of football, right! You know what’s so funny if you think about the pandemic, it has really changed sports. I mean I can only imagine, you know, being in high school, and I was about to get recruited, and this was going to be my year I mean, my heart breaks for all the athletes that have to go through this right now. Don’t get me wrong, there are way more things going on in the world, but as an athlete, this has changed the way we will look at sports forever. I mean, you know, you’re talking about playing with no fans, you know, you’re talking about digital sports now talking about front offices. Football and sports has changed, and I think we’re in a really good space where people can really kind of be more engaged, you know, thinking of the different fan you know when we grew up. We watched football in the stadium, kids now are all on their phone, everybody’s on their phone, checking their stats. They’re commenting, they’re there they’ve got something to say. They’re sending it to their friends, they’re sharing this, they’re sharing that, that’s the new fan and that’s the fan that we want to tap into.”

Austin says he and his group are gonna take footage and find guys that didn’t get a chance to make it in the NFL or still have had a chance to play, and put them into the FCFL and give them national exposure. Ray says the necessary data will be kept so they can keep the fans as involved as possible in this new interactive football league.

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