On Nov. 4, the Oakland Panthers, a new Indoor Football League (IFL) franchise, signed their first players at Robertson Park Fields in Livermore. Coach Kurt Bryan and Team President Scott McKibben welcomed the team’s first signees, including running back Davonte Sapp-Lynch, brother of co-owner Marshawn Lynch. The Panthers will use the Robertson Park field as their practice facility.

“Oakland and the Bay Area embody activism, work ethic, passion and loyalty,” said Co-founder Roy Choi, already the owner of two IFL franchises. “Those qualities are represented by the Panther name and by my co-founder Marshawn Lynch. While I am obviously impressed by his on-field performance, it is his community work that is the most inspiring. There is no one better than Marshawn to lead such a community-oriented sports franchise.”

The Oakland Panthers debut at a moment when long-time Oakland sports teams including the Raiders and Warriors are moving out of the East Bay. The franchise will support its athletes in a unique manner; given the challenges of Bay Area housing prices, the Panthers will not only provide salaries for players, but also lodging and meals during the season.

“I was blessed with my time and journey making it to the league, but there are more ways of getting there than the route I took, so it’s hella important to me to keep finding opportunities for players to pursue their dreams of getting to that next level,” said Marshawn. “I know the Panthers and this league can help with that.”