The Outlaws are coming.
Oswego County will have its first-ever minor league football team this summer when the Oswego County Outlaws begin play in the North American Football League.
“It will bring a different type of excitement” to the area, said Leroy Collins of Fulton, the former professional football player who is one of four men behind the Outlaws, with former local athletes Kendall “Kenny” AndersonÃ‚Â and Brad Rose. The fourth member, Dave Parker, grew up in Utah.
The team is a homecoming for Anderson, who will serve as head coach.Ã‚Â “This is where I grew up and I’ve been messing around in semi-pro football since 1993,” Anderson said.
The Outlaws began as a conversation between Anderson and Collins.Ã‚Â Two weeks later, the team had been formed.
The team hopes to play its games in Fulton’s high school football facility, but took the name Oswego County Outlaws because they’re willing to play anywhere in the county where they’re wanted and can use nighttime lighting.Ã‚Â “We’re open to get the team traveling,” Anderson said, “so the whole county can see their former high school stars in action.”
The team has signed or gotten verbal commitments from at least 60 players so far, including young men who played their high school football in Fulton, Oswego, Hannibal, Mexico and Central Square.Ã‚Â Among them, former Fulton quarterback Austin Drake, former Oswego QB Shane Murray, ex-Fulton player Jason Tanner, who played at Syracuse University, and several players who followed Anderson to Fulton from the Watertown Revolution.
“The thing that has shocked me is the amount of college experience we’ll have,” Anderson said.
Players won’t make any money playing for the Outlaws.Ã‚Â In fact, it’ll cost them $150 in league fees to join the team.Ã‚Â Why would they put up the money to play semi-pro football?Ã‚Â “Plain and simple,” said Anderson. “For the love of the game.”Ã‚Â “A lot of players have unfinished business,” Collins said.
A few players have pulled themselves up into pro football from the semi-pro ranks, including Ray Seals of Syracuse.Ã‚Â More typically, top semi-pro players may earn careers in minor pro leagues like the Arena Football League (which shut down in 2009 but is planning to be back in 2010).Ã‚Â There are more than 700 minor league football teams in America.
Collins will play running back.Ã‚Â As for Anderson?Ã‚Â “I’m 37 now.Ã‚Â We’ll see,” he said
The team will run on a lean budget. $15,000 provides a bare bones season, while $38,000 will allow the team to rent buses for away games and do some other things.Ã‚Â Several local businesses have signed on to sponsor the team, including Muskie’s Grill, Physical Therapy Plus, Canalview Dental and Personal Best Fitness, which Collins owns and serves as a training facility for some of the team members.
The team will play in the North American Football League, against teams such as the Syracuse Shock. The league’s website indicates several New York State semi-pro teams will join the league’s North Atlantic Region this year. The quality of football will be relatively high.Ã‚Â High enough, the owners hope, to get 300-600 people in the stands for home games.Ã‚Â They expect to sell a season ticket to five home games for $20; a ticket at the gate will cost $5.Ã‚Â Preseason games may cost $3.
But there’s plenty to do before the first game.Ã‚Â Next month, the team holds what it calls Outlaw University, to teach the fundamentals of the semi-pro game before they hit the field.Ã‚Â A 6-day training camp wil take place in April.Ã‚Â The first regular season game is likely to happen in June.
“These guys are going to be in shape,” Collins promised. “We’re not going to be a laughingstock.”
The team is still looking for players, coaches and corporate sponsors.Ã‚Â Call Anderson at 532-2034 or Collins at 254-4799.
[Editor’s note: This article contained three errors in its original version.Ã‚Â Dave Parker is from Utah, not Fulton; it was Anderson, not Collins, who said he was uncertain about playing this year, and the team will play in the North American Football League. Those errors have been corrected.]