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How new pro football leagues could change the NFL and college game

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CLOSE CEO of the AAF, Charlie Ebersol, stops by the USA TODAY studio to discuss the start of the new football league. USA TODAY CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORESAN DIEGO — The longtime agent for NFL quarterback Tom Brady is starting a new pro football league next year in Southern California called Pacific Pro Football.His name is Don Yee. And it might not be long before his league and other new pro football ventures disrupt and influence the lucrative worlds of college and pro football.Take the case of Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The rising sophomore is not eligible to play in the NFL until 2021, according to NFL rules that require first-year players to be at least three years removed from high school. But Yee’s new league won’t be bound by such rules.Asked how much his league would be able to offer Lawrence, Yee told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that “it would be a compelling and significant proposal.”“He is a unique talent, and we’d simply want to give him a choice.”This is new territory for the elite levels of American football, and it’s about to open up even wider. Several new pro leagues are set to open shop this year and next, starting Saturday, six days after the Super Bowl. That’s when the eight-team Alliance of American Football (AAF) will try to fill the NFL void, with plans to spend $500 million to $750 million in the next five years to get rolling. Could Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence be enticed by one of the many new pro football leagues about to begin play? (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)WHAT IF: AAF’s SkyJudge might have prevented NFC Championship no-callVICK OUT: Former Falcons QB no longer OC of new AAF teamSimilar gambles previously have ended in failure. Virtually all prior attempts to launch new pro football leagues in the U.S have collapsed in the shadow of the mighty NFL, usually because of big expenses, lack of capital and lack of interest.The difference now might be timing. A number of big-name supporters and partners with deep pockets believe the market is finally ripe for more football as the game continues to pull in huge live audiences for media partners and advertisers.Part of the attraction stems from the expected growth of legalized sports gambling, which can drive viewer interest on even the most meaningless games. Another reason is the proliferation and evolution of digital media platforms and technology. Some believe it’s simply a matter of commitment, and they plan to shake up the system in the process.“If you launch a pro football league, you’re going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars before you get to profitability,” AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol told USA TODAY Sports. “What we looked at is, ‘How do you chip away at that? And how do you build something that’s sustainable?’ ”It starts with having investment money to give it a long runway. Then there’s the matter of getting enough exposure to gain market traction. That can require television, big names and big moves

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