The NFL season is over but this year, football fans have something to look forward to: another football league called The Alliance of American Football (AAF). The AAF is only five weeks into its inaugural season and has already created a buzz.
So what is the AAF? According to CBS sports, It is an eight-team league that exists to both complement the NFL during the offseason and showcase local, developing talent. The goal of the AAF is not to compete with the NFL.
“It would be an act of insanity to try to compete with the NFL,” co founder Charlie Ebersol stated to the New York Times.
Instead, Ebersol intends to fill a post-Super Bowl, pre draft void that football crazed fans will eat up. The AAF leadership board features former NFL players Jared Allen, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu. There are currently 8 teams: Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders and the San Diego Fleet.
The AAF is similar to the NFL in rules, but it has some distinct differences. One difference is in regard to kickoffs. Instead of kickoffs, which the league decided slow down the game and create too many injuries, the ball will simply start on the 25-yard line after each score or at the beginning of each half. Extra points are no longer an option, teams must attempt a 2-point conversion. In overtime, each team will receive the ball at the other team’s 10-yard line. The team will have one possession to score a touchdown and the two point conversion. The game will end in a tie if neither team scores.
Another special feature of the AAF hopes to incorporate high tech into their games where fans can place bets on individual plays in real time. Ebersol told Fox Business that the AAF plans to roll out new features that will reward users for guessing the correct play or outcome, with points that can be exchanged for cash prizes and other perks. The league is partnering with MGM Resorts, and the AAF believes its lightning-fast data will eventually allow fans to place in-game bets on the outcomes of each play.
If you told me that people were making another football league, my first reaction would be to doubt the interest that America would show as people are already attached to their NFL teams, however, America is watching for several reasons.
First, it is real football. There is not drama behind signings. No drama over money and contracts. It is just hard-hitting professional games. The new rules are working as fans have reacted positively to them. It is entertaining football and America has noticed.
Second, the AAF got well-known coaches to sign onto the league, such as college star coach Steve Spurrier, and other men who have coached in both the NFL and NCAAF. In fact, NFL coaches have expressed interest in loaning some of their rosters to the AAF. The idea would be for NFL teams to assign their No. 3 quarterback and other players from the bottom half of their roster and developmental squads to gain more playing time under these quality coaches.
Lastly, Ebersol was on the money with his timing for this league. Baseball hasn’t started, and the NBA and NHL playoffs are still in the distance. It provides a new source of entertainment for fans looking for some good sports to watch. The AAF’s TV ratings have been consistently solid to the point where major channels are beginning to show games, so catch a game or two in the next 5 weeks and see what you think of America’s latest sports league.
Iinformation from CBS Sports and the New York Times