Dallas Cowboys

The future is here: Fan-run IFL team hosting tryouts in Dallas

Businessman Andy Alberth, the cousin of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, has an innovative way to approach football for fans.
Businessman Andy Alberth, the cousin of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, has an innovative way to approach football for fans. dkent@star-telegram.com

Dallas businessman Andy Alberth didn’t catch a pass recently from his more famous cousin, recovering Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, resulting in the now infamous bruised chest being talked about around the Dallas-Fort Worth, thanks to owner Jerry Jones on the radio.

Alberth doesn’t miss much from Romo, considering they have been playing catch since childhood.

And at this point in his life, he also doesn’t miss a good fan-friendly business opportunity when he sees one.

Alberth, the co-founder of the Romo’s twice failed National Fantasy Football Convention, has joined forces with FANchise in what could be the future for football and its fans.

"If you know me you know that I'm really passionate about getting the fans more more involved in the game," said Alberth, a consultant with FANchise, who also still promises the NFFC will soon be a reality. "This was a no brainer when they asked me to be a part of it. I'm really excited to see where this goes."

FANchise owns one of 12 teams in the Indoor Football League, but the cutting edge way in which they operate is explained in their name.

It’s a company that will allow fans to make pretty much all decisions regarding its football team, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles.

“This is the first team ever run by the fans,” FANchise co-founder and former NFL player Ray Austin said. “The mobile app to allow fans to run the football team. We allowed fans to control and operate the team from the beginning to when we walk out the tunnel for the first game. We are the only team doing this on earth. We are doing something that has never been done before. We are revolutionizing what is going to be down the road. ”

The fans voted on the team location, picking Salt Lake City over Oklahoma City. The fans voted on the team name. They voted on the head coach and they will have a say in filling out the roster, which begins with open tryouts Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at D1 Sports Training and Therapy in Dallas.

How well is the vision working so far?

Per Austin, 6,000 fans voted on the team name. They have one fan in every state and at least one fan in 14 different countries.

“And we don’t even have players yet,” Austin said.

That process begins on at D1 Sports Training and Therapy on Walnut Hill. The facility is owned by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and former TCU star and NFL legend LaDainian Tomlinson.

Among the tryout candidates are former Cowboys safety Jakar Hamilton and defensive tackle Jerrod Black. Former NFL and Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton will be assisting in the tryouts along with former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

In addition to Dallas, there will be open tryouts in Orlando, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Australia and Germany.

Some players will be offered contracts on the spots. Others will be videotaped and brought back to the FRANchise app so fans can vote on it.

“You have so many comments and suggestions from the fans,” Austin said. “Our job to open all conversations and categories for the fans, ticket sales, media, combines. We have fans who will meet us in Dallas and help with the tryouts. This is about fan engagement

And being open, being available and understanding social media.”

How do fans get involved?

Fans can go to the Screaming Eagles website and buy their way in to running a franchise. It's $10 a month to participate as a scout, $25 a month to be involved in coaching and $40 a month to be an assistant general manager.

Now this is not for the fans who want to do this on a lark. You are not going to be able to just call Hail Mary’s or fire the coach on a whim.

FANchise is looking to engage the real fans who already take the job of building a team serious with how they approach fantasy football.

“Fans aren’t like they used to be,” Austin said. “Just think about fantasy football and gaming, fans aren’t normal fans as they used to be. They are lot more educated and more in tune to what is going on in football. We are trying to use that to our advantage. We are going to allow our fans to call plays We have fans in our forum right now talking with coach about his game plan in 2017. For you to be able to call plays you have to be skilled. You have to be educated. We want to win. We want to compete.”

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

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