Football is back – wait what? The Alliance of American Football

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Usually after the Super Bowl, that’s it for football. Well, not this year. With the start of the Alliance of American Football this Saturday, February 8th we will still have professional football. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the league?

It’s going to be a mix between the NFL and college football. It’s being pegged as a “developmental” league and a stepping stone to the NFL. Co-founder Bill Polian has been quoted as saying he wants to work to complement the NFL, rather than compete against.

Logistics of the League

The league starts February 8th, to begin a 10 game schedule. After that, there’s 2 weeks of playoffs leading to an April 27th championship game to crown an initial winner. There are 8 teams total in the league:
1. Arizona Hotshots
2. Atlanta Legends
3. Birmingham Iron
4. Memphis Express
5. Orlando Apollos
6. Salt Lake Stallions
7. San Antonio Commanders
8. San Diego Fleet

What is the talent looking like?

Many people within the league have said the players would be competitive with the backups in the NFL — I have my doubts. We’ll see. I don’t have the highest expectations, but all of these players have competed at a high level and dominated college competition at some point.

Who will I know in the league?

  • Quarterbacks: Mike Bercovici (former Arizona State QB, San Diego Fleet), Trevor Knight (former Oklahoma QB, beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Arizona Hotshots), Aaron Murray (former Georgia Bulldogs starting QB, Atlanta Legends), Christian Hackenberg (former Penn State QB and 2nd round NFL Pick, Memphis Express)
  • Others: Trent Richardson (Alabama RB, 3rd pick in NFL Draft), Bishop Sankey (Washington RB, former Tennessee RB), Matt Asiata (Former Minnesota Vikings RB, fantasy star for a couple weeks), Denard Robinson (Michigan QB/RB), and many more
  • Coaches: Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake), Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Mike Martz (San Diego), Mike Singletary (Memphis) and Mike Riley (San Antonio) all have NFL/NCAAF experience

What are the rule changes in this league?

  • There will be no kickoffs. After extensive research, the league realized these are dangerous plays with little to no rewards. I will miss seeing an amazing kickoff return.
  • Instead of an onside kick, a team can attempt an “onside conversion.” From their own 28 yard line they’ll have one play to convert a 4th and 12. WHAT? I love it. Lets go. I’m excited for this one.
  • There are no extra points. In this league, kickers will be on the hot seat.
  • There is no blitzing from the secondary and only 5 players can rush at one time. The league is concerned about their offensive line development, so they’re going to be limiting the blitzes. I have my concerns about the offensive quality we might be seeing, but that’s the same way with the NFL at the beginning of the season.

How did players get assigned to a team?

First off, there was a quarterback draft, which is something you may have heard of. Each team picked a quarterback to either “keep” or draft anew. In terms of “keeping” a quarterback, this league is big on location based signing.

The league went through the past 10 years of data to find the top 30 producing colleges, and gave each team the first rights to players on 3 schools each. After that, each team got 30 other schools nearby in location to pull from. If your local colleges aren’t producing talent, then you are truly out of luck.

Then, each of the 8 teams each was assigned 4 NFL teams. These are less location based, but still attempting to be. If a player gets cut from an NFL roster, then they will get funneled down into their respective NFL team. There’s also some rules about Canadian leagues and such. Long story short, where you played football geographic wise matters.

Overview

I’m really f*#$@*g excited for this league. It’s football in the offseason, and will help shorten the blow of the NFL being done. Regardless of the quality of play, I know it will get better. There are a lot of good college players that have bought in that will be interesting to see on the field. The real challenge for the league will be to find the fans. Who’s going to come to the stadiums and pay for these games? If arenas are empty, then the league will die out sooner rather than later.

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