Every February, millions of hearts break as football season comes to an end. It’s been as sure as the sun setting in the west. But this year, genius businessman Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian are keeping the party going with the Allegiance of American Football (AAF). The AAF is an 8-team league playing for 10 weeks starting Saturday, February 9 through April. The AAF is bringing a new spark to football that traditional leagues such as the NFL simply can’t, such as:
The AAF is taking a visionary approach to reshaping the game of football. After spending years examining games and consulting with former NFL greats such as Hines Ward and Troy Polomalu, the AAF will be adopting the following rules:
- Regional Teams: The AAF only drafts quarterbacks. All other players are divided by where they played college or professional football. The idea behind this was local players will drive local support leading to a die-hard local fanbase. Players from regions with no AAF team are free to sign as free agents.
- No Kickoffs: Kickoffs are the most dangerous play in football. Coincidentally, kickoffs are the least exciting according to market research done by the AAF. Instead of wasting time and risking injury, the AAF will start each drive at the 25-yard line after a score or to start a half.
- No PATs: The NFL moved the PAT back a couple of years ago to make the play more competitive, but kickers still convert at approximately 94%. To keep the play exciting, the AAF will only allow teams to try a 2-point conversion.
- No Onside Kicks: Obviously, with no kickoffs, teams can not attempt an onside kick. However, to give teams a shot at keeping possession after a score, teams will be allowed to attempt an onside conversion. Essentially, the play is a 4th&12 from their own 28-yard line. If the offense converts, the drive continues. Expect this to be a more exciting alternative when games are tight.
- 35-second play clock: Reducing the play clock from 40 seconds to 35 seconds will force teams up to the ball and keep the action flowing. According to the AAF, 35 seconds is the ideal time to keep the pace without interfering with the quality of play.
- Simpler Overtime: Under AAF rules, games tied at the end of regulation will go to overtime. Each team will be given a drive starting at the 10-yard line. That means 4 plays to get into the endzone. Field goals are not allowed. If the game remains tied after one round, the game will end in a tie.
- Skyjudge: The AAF will have an extra official in the press box called the Skyjudge. The Skyjudge’s job is to correct obvious and erroneous officiating errors. For example, the Skyjudge would have called the pass interference on Rams CB Robey-Coleman during the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl would have been much more entertaining.
The AAF hears your complaints that modern sports aren’t always exciting enough. The pride of the AAF is how it will revolutionize the in-game experience.
- Shorter Games: The modern NFL game runs 3 to 3 1/2 hours long. The AAF recognized how long that was and how much time was wasted. To rectify this, the AAF modified rules such as the shorter play clock and has eliminated the TV timeout. Instead, full-screen ads will only run between quarter. “Two-box” ads will run between scores and during other prolonged breaks, but the action will never be completely cut away.
- In-Game Betting: Instead of shying away from betting, the AAF has made it a foundation of the league. The AAF has an exclusive partnership with MGM to offer real-time wagering. Not only will you be able to bet on spreads and totals, but new prop bets such as ball speed on passes are going to be available with real timelines.
- TV Access: The AAF has chosen to partner with the NFL instead of competing. In return, the NFL will allow the AAF to be televised by CBS and the NFL Network. All televised games can be watched on the AAF app for free.
This new league is chop full of intriguing storylines to follow. Every team has recognizable names trying to earn redemption and plucky unknowns trying to make a name. Some of the most interesting storylines are provided below:
- Former NFL QB Michael Vick makes his coaching debut as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Legends. Vick played the game with such creativity that he is bound to bring something new to the game, especially with former Jacksonville Jaguars “offensive weapon” Denard Robinson in his backfield.
- A pair of NFL running back busts are going to be among the names to watch this AAF season. Trent Richardson is perhaps the most famous player in the league. The Heisman Trophy winner ran for 950 yards as a first-round rookie for the Cleveland Browns in 2012. He infamously struggled to see the right holes and fell out of the league by 2016, but not before saying he would make the Hall of Fame before he retired. To his credit, he never specified which league. Richardson hopes to reestablish himself with the Birmingham Iron this season. Similarly, Bishop Sankey didn’t have the NFL career he hoped for after the Tennesse Titans drafted him in the second round in 2014. Sankey never dug himself a role in the Titans backfield and was cut when the Titans brought in Demarco Murray. Sankey hopes to prove he has what it takes with the San Diego Fleet.
- The Memphis express have a QB controversy on their hands with both Christian Hackenberg and Zack Mettenberger competing for the title of QB1. Both players were college standouts at Penn State and LSU respectively before getting a cup of coffee in the NFL. Both players boast one of the strongest arms in the league. Hackenberg allegedly has a slight lead at the position but expect both to earn reps, at least early in the year.
- The AAF has brought the return of familiar faces as head coaches. Mike Singletary and the Head Ball Coach himself, Steve Spurrier, have returned to coach the Memphis Express and Orlando Apollos respectively. Both bring a tone of respect to the start-up league.
This league looks like it will be a ton of fun to watch and certainly more fun than watching
The Bachelor the NBA. It all kicks off this Saturday at 8pm EST with the Atlanta Legends @ the Orlando Apollos and the San Diego Fleet @ the San Antonio Commanders, both on CBS.
Photos: Daily Snark