School of the Legends was founded in August 2009, the brainchild of music executive and football fanatic David Byerley. The concept was to create a website to serve and honor the players, past and present, of the National Football League. Over the following months, Byerley assembled a team of seasoned business professionals at the company’s Brentwood, Tennessee headquarters. Marketing, Design, Production, Finance and Technology executives were all key players in pulling together a cohesive plan to be presented to the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
In January 2010, the newly formed SOTL team headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with top-level executives at the NFLPA Headquarters. With an enthusiastic response from the NFLPA, the fledgling company secured the necessary investors to create this visionary site. On June 4, 2010, the “deal” was signed and SOTL became an officially licensed partner with NFL Players, Inc.
Over the next 120 days, the SOTL team grew from 5 to 35 people (plus dozens of contracted contributors) in order to undertake the herculean feat of launching a site in time for the 2010-2011 NFL season. While the site was under construction, a state-of-the-art video team began working with NFL Players to film high-definition, position-by-position training courses for youth football players. A Legends Relations department was also created for the sole purpose of recruiting and serving the players.
By the time SchooloftheLegends.com officially launched on September 9, 2010, there were 500 NFL Players standing at the gate to connect with fans and welcome other legends. This social site made it possible, like no site in history, for fans to interact directly with real NFL Players.
Meanwhile, in December, 2010, SOTL launched its first “Legends in Training” courses, a program that would grow over the next two years to include classes by such legends as Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald, Tony Gonzalez, Maurice Jones-Drew, Warren Moon, Kevin Carter, DeAngelo Williams, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Jerome Bettis—just to name a few.
SOTL also entered into an exclusive agreement with the prestigious Manning Passing Academy to create a course featuring the legendary teachers of the skill positions school, including founder Archie Manning, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Kelly Holcomb and Christian Ponder.
In September 2011, School of the Legends launched the 2.0 version of its site, improving the user experience by adding dozens of new features and optimizing the site’s performance considerably. During the 2011-2012 NFL season, SOTL launched its first national television ad campaign, featuring Barry Sanders, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Jerome Bettis, Chris Johnson and Cortland Finnegan. The ads ran on the major networks and NFL Network during the NFL Playoffs and brought unprecedented exposure to SchooloftheLegends.com.
In September 2012, School of the Legends took its next “quantum leap” forward as it launched SOTL Version 3.0. The retooled site changed its name from SchooloftheLegends.com to the sleeker SOTL.com and was accompanied by the launch of a sister site, SOTLTraining.com.
SOTL.com continues the company’s proud tradition as the “voice of the NFL Player,” with over 2,500 current and former players contributing to the site. SOTL.com features weekly football and lifestyle blogs by dozens of NFL Players, including Jerome Bettis, Barry Sanders, Patrick Peterson, Will Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Cliff Avril and others. SOTL.com is the only site where the players comment directly on football news stories of the day. The new SOTL.com also features exclusive NFL Player polls, giving fans the player perspective on the league’s most important issues. In addition to all of this original content, SOTL.com also aggregates NFL news from every major pro football site, making it a one-stop destination for every NFL fan.
SOTLTraining.com continues the tradition of School of the Legends’ original “Legends in Training” program. The 38 “Legends in Training” classes will continue to be available on the site. In addition, SOTLTraining will launch new online training systems from Manning Passing Academy and an exciting new set of courses for serious high school and college players, taught by professional coaches and trainers. This new system was created as a part of SOTL’s partnership with the prestigious Football University.
The 2012-13 NFL season should be an exciting one for fans and players, alike. And there’s no better place to follow it than on the SOTL family of websites.