The Alliance of American Football: League Preview

With the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night typically means the conclusion of football. There perhaps is no worse feeling as a football fan than waking up on Monday morning with the thought of no more football until August.

It’s a real unfortunate situation because there are so many talented football players searching for their next possible opportunity, alongside millions of fans starving for more football…

Fortunately, we have a brand-new professional football league beginning this Saturday night on CBS.

Introducing: The Alliance of American Football (AAF)

allianceTo begin, now we all know there have been some past unsuccessful professional football leagues; but this seems to come at the absolute perfect timing.

The Alliance of American Football was based upon the league’s comprising mission of “forming an alliance” among it’s players, fans, and the game of football. The league views that is will go hand-in-hand to work cohesively with the NFL; focusing on creating and providing more opportunities on every platform to enhance the future of the game.

This whole concept is basically to construct a developmental spring league which will allow players the chance to develop and to show off their abilities throughout a course of a season awhile keeping America entertained.

The AAF has all the right ingredients to be an instant-success among football fans, and it’s something I firmly believe will continue to grow throughout the course of the season.

The Teams (Previews Coming Soon):

Eastern Conference:

Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos.

Western Conference:

Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio CommandersSan Diego Fleet

Concept:

8 Teams with a 10 Week Schedule. 2 Games on Saturday’s, 2 Games on Sunday’s.

52 players on each roster.

Only one quarterback is allowed to be taken from the team’s region.

There was a QB-only “Protect or Pick” draft conducted in November 2018, the teams had a choice to retain their ‘protected quarterback’ or select an ‘unprotected quarterback’ from another team.

Rule Changes:

All teams must attempt two-point conversions after each touchdown; there will be no extra point kicks.

There will be no kickoffs; halves, odd overtime periods and after scores will begin on each team’s own 25-yard line, the same as touchbacks in the NFL and NCAA.

Instead of onside kicks, a team can keep possession of the ball by attempting a scrimmage play from their own 35-yard line and gaining at least 10 yards.

Quicker & Shorter Games:

The league is aiming for an approximate game length of 150 minutes, down from just over 180 in the NFL. Here are some of the ways how they will look to enhance the game speed with less interruptions.

Telecasts will feature no television timeouts and 60 percent fewer commercials. The play clock will run 10 seconds shorter than in the NFL

Two coach’s challenges per team are the only replays; no challenges in last two minutes of either half nor any overtime period, as they are automatic.

Playoffs:

The playoffs will consist of four teams, the top two teams from each conference.

Championship (April 27th): Sam Boyd Stadium (home of the UNLV Rebels)

I will now explain the reasons for why I believe the AAF will be a success, and a huge enhancement for the game of football…

The League’s Leadership & Experts to Ensuring a Quality Football League:

Charlie Ebersol (CEO and co-founder): Dad helped find XFL.

“Every single person who has attempted to do this before failed. You have to really dig in and put the best people at the top of it. We have an opportunity to make football better,” –Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol on creating something which everyone else before failed. 

The key to starting up a football league is ensuring the game of play on the field is quality. It is one thing to put together a attractive team of investors to fund a football league, but it’s another to put the right leadership and expertise in place to ensure that.

The key piece of this puzzle was Ebersol’s commitment from former ESPN analyst Bill Polian. Polian’s rare-level of football expertise is perfect for developing a league of football players in every possible way.

Bill Polian (Head of Football/Co-Founder): He is a member of the NFL Hall-of-Fame and a former general manager in the NFL for 26 seasons with three teams (Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts). He built those teams to a combined eight conference championship games, five Super Bowl appearances and one title.

J.K. McKay (Head of Football Operations): Former General Manager of the Los Angeles Xtreme in the XFL

“I said this to Bill before. Our greatest hope is that we are standing on the sidelines at the Super Bowl and talking about how we knew you when,” -Alliance Charlie Ebersol on the league vision.

It’s ironic because this past Super Bowl was filled with contributing players who go to that moment by defying the odds; Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman was not even invited to the NFL Combine. The vast majority of the players in the AAF can relate to being considered the “underdog”, but hopefully some of them will defy the odds and get their shot one day in a Super Bowl one day.

Speaking of former Super Bowl winners…

Troy Polamalu (Head of player relations and former safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers): is also excited about being apart of The Alliance, and what it can do for off the field.

“What we have built here is a platform not only to show you how to be the very best football player, but to be the very best husband, the very best father, the very best teammate, and the very best member of society. What we are building is an approach to help the whole person,” -Former Safety Troy Polamulu on the development of the league.

In addition, the league has two other former Super Bowl Champions as Players Relations Executive in Hines Ward and Justin Tuck. Some other investors of the league include former NFL defensive end Jared Allen, NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal, The Chernin Group (owns Barstool Sports), and Peter Theil (Co-Founder of PayPal).

The players are in good hands with some legendary coaches such as Orlando’s HC Steve Spurrier, San Diego’s Mike Martz, Memphis’s Mike Singletary, and Salt Lake City’s Dennis Erickson.

Football is football. That is so true. But I will say this, better football is more important because you can always get better. And the reason I say that is better football is really important,” -Alliance Investor & NFL Hall of Fame CB Ronnie Lott on the importance of quality football.

More Football Attracts more Fans:

When the Super Bowl ends, football is the only sport that ends. When football ends most fans pretty much stop watching sports until it returns.

We instantly become preoccupied on things surrounding the NFL which are completely out of anyone’s control. The typical medial coverage now after the Super Bowl is debating things such as; if Kyler Murray is tall enough to play QB, or if the Steelers should trade Antonio Brown.

We do this simply because we have nothing to talk about. As pure football fans we have nothing to watch or get excited about for the entire spring.

Well finally this comes to an end, as The Alliance of American Football announced a multi-year programming deal that will include live event coverage of The Alliance inaugural season. CBS, CBS Sports NetworkNFL Network, TNT, and B/R Live.

CBS will air the league’s debut game on February 9, one week after the network airs the Super Bowl.

Turner Sports announced a multi-year agreement with the league this past week to air games on platforms via TNT and B/R Live. TNT will have one regular-season game and one playoff game each season, with additional regular season games available weekly via B/R Live.

“Having live football games on NFL Network in February, March, and April will be a great addition to our lineup and a nice complement to our coverage of the NFL Combine and NFL Draft,” -Mark Quenzel, NFL Network’s Senior VP of Programming & Production.

Former NFL players and coaches that are Notable Broadcasters:

Head Coaches: Marvin Lewis and Steve Mariucci;

Players: Tiki BarberMaurice Jones-DrewRod WoodsonDavid CarrTrent GreenAdam ArchuletaBrock Huard, and Shaun O’Hara.

The league’s players can get excited about playing in front of all their family and friends on a national audience.

Creates Jobs & Opportunity:

There are close to at least 1,200 jobs that have been created and employed by The Alliance, which will only create jobs and revenue among the eight cities.

The Alliance expands it’s markets by bringing back a professional team in San Diego, following the Chargers departure to Los Angeles. It also brings the first professional major professional sports team in the state of Alabama, and a football team in a major city without one in Memphis, Orlando, and San Antonio.

Some of the league’s players will receive their first shot at professional football,  while others already have experience whether it was in the NFL or elsewhere.

Here are some examples…

Former College Stars:

Trent Richardson, Denard Robinson, Aaron Murray, Christian Hackenberg, Blake Sims, Greg Ward, Scooby Wright, Zach Mettenberger.

Former NFL Players:

Gavin Escobar, Ron Brooks, Zac Stacy, Charles Johnson, Nick Folk, Akeem Hunt, Damontre Moore, Garrett Gilbert, Rahim Moore, Josh Huff, Will Sutton, Ladarius Gunter, Branden Oliver, Tim Cook, Mike Bercovici, Freddie Martino, Matt Simms.

Rookies Looking for their First Shot:

Logan Woodside, Luis Perez, Dylan Donahue, Akrum Wadley, Justin Stockton, Bunmi Rotimi, J.C. Hassenauer, John Wolford, Peter Pujals, Charles Standberry.

“From a player perspective, when they first put the plastic on when they were 7 or 8 years old and looked at that helmet, their dream was to play professional football. This is an opportunity for many of them to realize that,”  -Former NFL HC and Alliance mentor Jeff Fisher reflecting every football player’s aspirations

“There’s going to be a lot of people that move on. And move up towards the NFL and there will be a lot of people that make The Alliance a career because The Alliance is going to succeed,” -Former NFL HC Jeff Fisher on the league providing careers.

Helps Improve Football:

“I cannot tell you how many NFL scouts and personnel have come up to me over the past several days and said how impressed they were with the group we have,”Alliance Head of Football Bill Polian on the positive feedback from NFL scouts.

The league should definitely enhance the improvement of the overall NFL rosters, as well as benefit the NFL in all sorts of positive ways.

First, NFL rosters originally start at 90 before cutting them ultimately to 52. This illustrates how at least half the roster typically only receives reps in either training camp or preseason games. If they don’t see time in an NFL game, the only other time they can receive reps is if they are fortunate enough to at least make the practice squad.

“So, we’re going to actually send some of our scouts down there. They’re open for us to come down and evaluate. We’ll get their film once they start playing their games in February and March, so we’re going to scout them, yeah, for sure,”Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn on scouting the AAF.

Fortunately, now NFL teams instead of being just pretty much “handcuffed” into signing players purely based upon one tryout in a pair of gym shorts, we now will find out immediately based on their ability on the field. This should be a beneficial solution to improving NFL rosters; rather than just presuming a player “might” potentially be good or not.

Fact of the matter is everybody develops at different rates; so maybe some players just need that extra year of development especially after college. Major League Baseball has an entire minor league system, the NBA has the G-League and countless options to play overseas. The Alliance now will allow football players that same opportunity to develop.

“We’re not looking to be a markedly different product. We’re actually looking to be a very, very similar and very parallel product to what the NFL has.” -Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol on being more similar to the NFL compared to the XFL’s 2020 vision.

Players will able to receive a full-game and a full-season worth of reps. They will also be evaluated by every scouting departments, in addition to being analytically tracked and graded via media outlets such as Pro Football Focus.

Building an “Alliance” to Build Something Great:

The whole concept is to construct a quality spring football league to enhance the game by creating more opportunities for players to develop and demonstrate their abilities while entertaining America.

For the league to be successful, the “alliance” needs to be co-existing in order to build something great. If the AAF & NFL can work side-by-side, exchanging information and data with one another, then it ultimately could work out a huge benefit towards improving the quality of the NFL and the future of football.

While some notable young up and coming coaches such as Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur have been fortunate enough to earn head coaching jobs by moving up the ranks. On the other side, there are so many coaches with aspirations to join an NFL coaching staff that not fortunate enough; but now there’s a lot more opportunity to get into the business and move up the ranks with a new league.

For example, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick earned the job as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Legends back in the city where his memorable NFL career with the Falcons all started.

Another factor I am sure nobody will mind (especially Saints fans) is the improvement of officiating. More officials will now be able to receive actual game in-game experience, allowing the NFL to improve their evaluation to hire the best possible candidates to replace long-time officials that retire.

Last, an essential tool for the NFL is to evaluate what works for the AAF, and to see whether it’s something the NFL can implement for next season or the future.

A strong suggestion would be for the AAF to in some way implement in-game features to improve the overall fan experience at home, as well as monitoring the player’s safety. If the leagues can work together towards implementing some new-innovating technology surrounding football; it would be a huge benefit right now for football.

“For so many years now, football has needed a league like The Alliance. There’s so many young talented athletes and some with experience that for whatever reason their careers were short or they just didn’t get the opportunity. The truth of the matter is there’s just not enough football reps for players once they get out of college. And this is an opportunity for players to get reps to pursue their dreams and maybe someday to get to the National Football League,” -Former HC Jeff Fisher on the Alliance providing opportunity.

With that being said, this Saturday on February 9th tune in on CBS to watch the kick off of the inaugural league. Stay tuned as we will provide a team preview on everything you need to know for the eight teams, and will continue coverage throughout the season.

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