Renee Montgomery opts into football league

Atlanta Dream's Renee Montgomery is seen against the New York Liberty in the second half Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, in New York. (Gregory Payan/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Dream's Renee Montgomery is seen against the New York Liberty in the second half Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, in New York. (Gregory Payan/AP)

A month ago, Renee Montgomery hadn’t heard of Fan Controlled Football. Then she became the league’s first female owner.

Montgomery, who opted out of the 2020 WNBA season, first became aware of the FCF while recording an episode of her podcast, Remotely Renee, last month. As co-host Paul Guarino explained the concept of the new seven-on-seven spring football league, Montgomery grew more and more intrigued.

“After that episode, I think the episode aired maybe three or four weeks ago, we reached out to them,” Montgomery said. “I told them, ‘Hey, I love the concept of your league and I’d love to be a part of it.’ The ball got rolling from there.”

Within weeks, the Atlanta Dream’s free agent guard was announced as a member of the ownership group of the Beasts, one of four teams for the FCF’s inaugural season. The Beasts are owned by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, with WWE star Miro and Montgomery as co-owners. She is currently the only woman involved in the ownership of an FCF team.

Many committed sports fans believe they’d be able to run their favorite team better than the current coaching staff or general manager. In the FCF, fans sign on to support a particular team and then are able to share their opinion on every decision the team makes. Montgomery thinks that’s why the FCF will be successful when other spring football leagues, like the XFL and the AAF, haven’t been.

“This league is focused on the fans,” Montgomery said. “I think that’s the main difference from all of the other leagues. It doesn’t matter if all the other leagues play the same (number) of players (or) play a certain type of football. The Fan Controlled Football league, the hashtag is power to the fans for a reason, so I think that’s what’s gonna make it different. Fans are gonna fuel it and drive it.”

Team owners will serve as overseers and have final say on decisions, largely so that fans can’t make decisions detrimental to the brand of the team or the health of the league, but the teams’ fans will be involved every step of the way.

And as fantasy sports grow in popularity, Montgomery sees fans being intimately involved with decision-making of a team as the next step for the growth of fantasy sports as a business.

“Everyone knows that fantasy football or any fantasy sport is a booming business,” Montgomery said. “Everyone’s trying to get into that business. They almost one-upped it and they made a whole league almost betting on the fact that fans like to control things. Like, in the fantasy leagues, fans get so mad when a player is rested or a player’s not playing or not playing as many minutes as they should. With the Fan Controlled Football league, they’re kind of giving the fans what they want, but it’s actually good players really playing good football.”

The FCF’s first season is scheduled to begin in February and will be played in a bubble environment in Atlanta. Montgomery didn’t know the league would be based in Atlanta when she first got involved, but it was an added bonus for the Buckhead resident as the plans came together.

“I’m just excited that it’s happening in our backyard,” Montgomery said, “I didn’t even know that when I reached out to them about becoming an owner. … Just the fact the FCF is coming to ATL is pretty exciting, I think, for the city of Atlanta.”