The Growing Presence of The Alliance of American Football League
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) began play on February 9, 2019, approximately one week after Super Bowl LIII. The AAF will play a 10-week, 40 game regular season.
Inspired by an ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 documentary about the XFL brand, the AAF was announced on March 20, 2018 by Charlie Ebersol. Ebersol, a television producer and film director from Connecticut, aimed to create a football league that would satisfy a need for the sport in the NFL offseason. With quality football as his primary objective, Ebersol recruited an executive team to oversee the new league. The AAF is supervised by former NFL General Manager Bill Polian, former NFL safety Troy Polamalu, and former NFL receiver J.K. McKay. The advisory staff include several former pros and Ebersol’s father, Dick, who was the co-founder of the original XFL.
Just a month after the new league’s announcement, Orlando was named the AAF’s first team. Steve Spurrier was named head coach. By June, eight teams and cities were announced.
By the end of July, more than 100 players had been signed to the AAF. Scouting combines were held at select cities and by August 24, 2018, the AAF had officially signed 205 players.
MEET THE TEAMS
Eastern Conference: Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos
Western Conference: Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, San Diego Fleet
Ebersol avoided making dramatic changes to the AAF rules but there were some alternations to streamline games and improve viewer experience.
- No kickoffs; possession at the beginning of each half and after scores, always begin on a team’s own 25-yard line. If teams attempt an onside kick, they will have an opportunity to convert a fourth-and-12 from their own 28-yard line.
- The play clock runs for 35 seconds, five seconds shorter than the NFL play clock.
- Telecasts feature no TV timeouts and fewer commercials. The AAF wanted to keep games to 150 minutes, down from 180+ experienced in NFL games.
- No extra-point kicks. Teams must attempt two-point conversions.
- Overtime will be played under the “Kansas Playoff” rules of high school football.
- Playoffs will consist of four teams (top two teams from each conference).
Aside from a star-studded advisory board and executive team, the AAF features plenty of familiar faces.
- Arizona Hotshots – QB Trevor Knight, LB Steven Johnson, DB Robert Nelson
- Atlanta Legends – QB Matt Simms, WR Stephen Hill, Michael Vick (Offensive Coordinator), DB Tyson Graham Jr.
- Birmingham Iron – QB Luis Perez, RB Trent Richardson, CB JaCorey Shepard, K Nick Novak, LB Jonathan Massaquoi
- Memphis Express – QB Christain Hackenburg, QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Zac Stacy, WR Chris Givens, LB DeMarquis Gates
- Orlando Apollos – QB Garrett Gilbert, QB Stephen Morris, WR Frankie Hammond, LB Terence Garvin
- Salt Lake Stallions – RB Matt Asiata, DE Karter Schult
- San Antonio Commanders – QB Logan Woodside, RB David Cobb, RB Daryl Richardson, LB Joel Lanning
- San Diego Fleet – QB Mike Bercovici, RB Bishop Sankey, LB Eric Pinkins, DB Kendall James
Following the AAF debut, critic reviews were mostly positive. Nielson Ratings revealed the league opening games averaged 2.913 million viewers. Ebersol and his executive team realize the AAF will never touch NFL ratings, but he doesn’t mind. At the formation of the AAF, he stated that he doesn’t see the NFL as a competitor. Considering historically consistent ratings for live-sports broadcasts, it’s no stretch to say the AAF will likely continue to garner interest and develop a fan base.