Richard Myles stayed in motion throughout our entire conversation—weaving through his office and answering queries from interns—all while delivering a thorough explanation of the Minor Football League (MFL), or as he calls it, "the laboratory of change." Through his insight into change on a systematic level and dedication to the ever-expanding platform, including 32 developmental teams in the U.S. and Africa, Myles is a sage visionary who thrives on momentum.
This momentum, grounded in warm intention, started with his recruitment to play at Arizona State University. Myles was later drafted to the National Football League (NFL) as a strong safety for the New England Patriots, and it was during this time that he observed the fleeting nature of opportunity for players.
"The NFL? In the league, we called it Not For Long," reflects Myles. "What happens to these young men when they can no longer play?"
In 1993, Myles founded the MFL to answer for a system that treats talent as a disposable resource. Through instructional programs, players learn about various organizational positions within the industry. Each player is also beholden to 100 hours of community service, effectively making each athlete an agent of change.
Myles' passion for opening doors was matched tenfold by his ability to galvanize efforts for youth.
"We see at-risk youth as at-risk greatness."
While NFL Players like Barry Word and Eric Swan, who began their careers in the MFL, serve as living proof of the league's developmental potential, Myles is quick to reiterate his focus is first and foremost on community.
Based in Myles’ home of Washington, D.C., the MFL has myriad programs for youth outreach with local community centers and high schools. The Young Entrepreneur program gives teens the confidence and tools to become business owners. Myles, also a Chaplain, responded sagely with the core principle of helping the younger generation, "At the end of the day, we are there to hear their thoughts –give them an opportunity to say what they're really going through."
Myles speaks fervently about creating opportunities for underprivileged women and minorities, "I want to give them a seat at the table." Through attainable internship programs, he incentivizes employees and interns with high-level management positions.
Ashley Elder became an MFL intern in January of 2023 and quickly worked her way to administrative assistant. She's focused much of her efforts on the league's No Thugs, No Drugs program—a 12-week initiative that connects students in high-risk communities with high school coaches. Elder's management acumen and a life-long love of football made her the perfect candidate to oversee the MFL's expansion into Ohio. "As a woman of color, this is super important to me," she says of her new position as General Manager of the Ohio Outlaws.
Refusing to be just another "semi-pro" league, the positive influence of the Minor Football League is abundant and growing.
The MFL is preparing for the 2024 season by relaunching its "Beyond the Field" leadership program. Stay involved: visit www.MFLishere.com and sign up for the league’s newsletter.