Rickey Jemison calls it an opportunity to dream again.
And what he’s proposing to bring to the Meridian area might allow former football players an opportunity to do just that.
Jemison, the director of league development for the Monsters Game Free Agents, is planning to come to Meridian later this month to test the waters and see what kind of athletes are available to maybe be a part of his league, he said. The Monsters Game Free Agents is a developmental football league whose aim is to help prepare athletes for the Canadian Football League. It currently has teams in Memphis, Tenn., Jonesboro, Ark., Little Rock, Ark., and Holly Springs.
“We’re trying to build a name for ourselves and harvest athletes to send to the CFL,” Jemison explained. “We hope to get CFL backing and get TV deals and sponsorships. It’s all about building a reputation and relationships with the CFL.”
Jemison said there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of football players looking to get a chance in the CFL but aren’t able to because of what he called a “lack of CFL-like experience.” His league, he said, is hoping to give them that experience.
“We’re looking to get those players that realize the NFL may not be an option right now, and we’re going to teach them and train them how to play Canadian football — and not charge a fee. If you’re looking for a chance to showcase your skills and chase the dream again, this is that opportunity.”
The Monsters Game league has different rules than high school, college and the NFL follow. In the Monsters Game league, it’s nine versus nine: there are only three offensive linemen — one of whom can become an eligible receiver — and on defense, there are only two linebackers and three defensive linemen.
Scoring points in The Monsters Game is also different. Teams in the league can be exclusively offensive or defensive teams with a 15-man roster. A Meridian team could field a defensive unit to go against an offense-based team. A team’s defense can score according to the following standards: two points if the offense is stopped before it crosses the 50 and four points if it’s stopped after it crosses the 50.
An offensive team is also forced to score in four plays once it crosses the 50. In addition, if it fails to score, it must kick to the defense, which allows the team to return the ball for points. If it crosses the 50-yard line, it earns three points; if it crosses the 20, five points; if a touchdown, seven points, for a total of 15 possible points.
Jemison said the nature of nine-on-nine football means each athlete has to be in tip-top shape.
“Anyone can get exposed,” he said. “If you take plays off, believe me, it’s going to show. You have to be in shape.”
Jemison said he plans to get to Meridian before the Fourth of July weekend and scout talent with local coach Ronnie Phitts. After that, they’ll look to give a press release and possibly brainstorm team name ideas, along with setting a tryout date.
“The bottom line is, there are plenty of athletes all over the country,” Jemison said. “Any time we can go into an area and harvest athletes, we want to do that. With Meridian, it’s a hotbed of talent.”
For more information, prospective players are asked to call Phitts at 601-934-1452.