Alliance of American Football
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is a planned professional American football league founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. It is set to commence play in February 2019, one week following the National Football League's Super Bowl LIII championship game. The AAF consists of eight centrally owned and operated teams; all but one are located in cities on or south of the 35th parallel and all but one in metropolitan areas that have at least one major professional sports franchise.
|Founded||March 20, 2018|
|No. of teams||8|
The AAF was announced on March 20, 2018, by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol. The AAF will be overseen by former NFL general manager Bill Polian, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and executive J.K. McKay. Advisers also include former Steelers receiver Hines Ward, former New York Giants and Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck, and Ebersol's father, retired NBC Sports executive (and co-founder of the original XFL) Dick Ebersol.
To ensure professional-level football at launch, the AAF set out to hire coaches with professional football coaching and championship experience. On April 7, 2018, the first team, Orlando, was announced with its coach Steve Spurrier. By June 2018, the league had announced its eight inaugural teams and their cities. Regional drafts will be held with protection for local college players that are eligible.
On July 30, 2018, the Alliance announced the league had signed 100 players. In August 2018, the league held the Alliance Scouting Combine at three locations and four dates: August 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California; August 18 in Houston, Texas and August 25–26 in Atlanta, Georgia. By August 24, 2018, 205 players were signed. These dates provided an opportunity for players cut at the NFL roster deadline, and each player signed a three-year contract worth $250,000, with performance-based and fan interaction incentives allowing for players to earn more.
In July 2018, Starter, through G-III Sports, which manufactured NFL jerseys in the 1980s and 1990s, was named the official on-field apparel and game-day uniform supplier for the AAF, marking a return for the brand to professional football. On September 20, the league announced four eastern inaugural franchises' names and logos. The western four teams were revealed five days later. On October 16, 2018, the Alliance announced its schedule (indicating the day and location, but not the time, of each game) which has two games each on Saturday and on Sunday most weekends.
Quarterback skill training camps were held at the Alamodome in San Antonio from November 12–14, 2018. On November 27, the league held a four-round "Protect or Pick" quarterback draft in the Esports Arena at Luxor Las Vegas and broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
The AAF plans to begin its inaugural, 10-week season on February 9, 2019. The four-team playoff is to be capped with the league's championship game at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, planned for the weekend of April 26–28. If the AAF survives to reach its second season, it will find itself in direct competition with a revived XFL, which is announced to begin play in 2020.
- Teams will have 50 players on each roster, with some selected by a territorial draft. The territory assigned to a team consists of at least five colleges plus designated professional teams, one Canadian Football League, and four NFL teams, for those from Big Ten and the Big 12 conferences. Only one quarterback can be taken from their region. A quarterbacks-only "Protect or Pick" draft was conducted in November 2018 in which teams may retain their allocated quarterback or select an unprotected quarterback from another team.
- Telecasts will feature no television timeouts and 60 percent fewer commercials, with the league aiming for an approximate real-time game length of 150 minutes, down from just over 180 in the NFL.
- 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. In lieu of an onside kick, 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.
- The play clock will run only 30 seconds, 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.
- Outside organizations will handle head-safety protocols.
- Playoffs will consist of four teams, the top two teams from each conference.
The league will operate as a single entity, with all teams owned and operated by the league, under the name Legendary Field Exhibitions LLC. Some of the investors in the AAF include Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, The Chernin Group (which owns Barstool Sports), Jared Allen, Slow Ventures, Adrian Fenty, Charles King's M Ventures, and Keith Rabois.
MGM Resorts International made an investment in the AAF tech platform, and entered a three-year sponsorship agreement to become the league's official sports betting sponsor and exclusive gaming partner. The deal marks the first time any sports organization has sold exclusive in-game betting rights to a sportsbook.
The league is also planning player bonuses and scholarships; player bonuses to be based on performance and fan interaction, and players would earn a year's scholarship in post-secondary education for each season of play. Players are expected to get three-year, non-guaranteed contracts worth $250,000 plus health insurance with an escape clause to go to the NFL. The three-year contract is believed to be purposely targeting the XFL to prevent second-tier professional players from signing with the XFL if they play in the AAF in 2019. For the fans, in addition to a fantasy league built into mobile broadcasts, low ticket prices (each team will have a $35/game sideline seat option) and inexpensive food are planned.
- Charlie Ebersol, co-founder and CEO
- Bill Polian, co-founder and Head of Football
- Troy Polamalu, Head of Player Relations
- J.K. McKay, Head of Football Operations
- Tom Veit, Head of Business Operations
- Hines Ward, Player Relations Executive
- Jared Allen, Player Relations Executive and investor
- Justin Tuck, Member of Player Engagements Board Of Advisers
Board of DirectorsEdit
As part of its formation, the AAF announced broadcast deals with CBS Sports; the inaugural game and championship game will both air on CBS, while CBS Sports Network will air at least one game per week. Local stations are expected to pick up the other games for broadcast. The league's mobile app will offer live streaming of all games, as well as provide integrated fantasy games.
- Rovell, Darren (March 20, 2018). "Former NFLers involved in league to rival XFL". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- "Steve Spurrier to coach Orlando team in new spring league, Alliance of American Football". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
- Steimle, Kevin; Breech, John (April 7, 2018). "Steve Spurrier announced as first coach and Orlando first host city for Alliance of American Football". CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
- Munz, Jason (August 1, 2018). "Alliance of American Football announces Memphis team has signed 28 players". The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Ward, Brendan (July 2, 2018). "Alliance of American Football hosting scouting combine for players". WMC Action News 5.com. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Froyd, Crissy (August 27, 2018). "Zach Mettenberger and Antonio Andrews reunite in new pro league". Titans Wire. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Wilner, Barry. "Alliance signs players cut by NFL teams for spring league". AP News. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Benjamin, Cody (July 24, 2018). "Alliance of American Football strikes multi-year uniform, apparel deal with Starter". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Benjamin, Cody (September 20, 2018). "LOOK: Alliance of American Football unveils logos of four pro teams that will debut in 2019". CBSSports.com. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Benjamin, Cody (September 25, 2018). "LOOK: Here's a full list of team names and logos from the Alliance of American Football". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
- "Alliance of American Football schedule released for Arizona Hotshots, other 7 teams". AZ Central. USA Today. October 16, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Scott, Dana (October 31, 2018). "Alliance of American Football league to hold 'Protect or Pick' quarterback draft". AZ Central. USA Today Network. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Spangler, Todd (March 20, 2018). "New Pro Football League Sets 2019 Debut With CBS Sports Pact". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- Benjamin, Cory (October 23, 2018). "Alliance of American Football will host its first two championship games in Las Vegas". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- Gartland, Dan (March 20, 2018). "8-team XFL competitor plans to launch in February 2019". SI.com. Time, Inc. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- Wilson, Ryan (November 28, 2018). "Alliance of American Football QB Draft: Aaron Murray, Christian Hackenberg highlight QBs taken in AAF event". CBSSports.com. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- "Alabama, Auburn players to go on Birmingham AAF team's assignment list". AL.com. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- Rovell, Darren (July 12, 2018). "AAF players to get 3-year, $250K contracts". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Florio, Mike (October 31, 2018). "AAF to conduct unusual draft process for allocating quarterbacks". Profootballtalk.com. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
- "Alliance of American Football to kick off after Super Bowl". The Washington Post. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- Crupi, Anthony (September 10, 2018). "The Alliance of American Football bets on success where others have failed". Ad Age. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
Per terms of the deal, MGM also will invest in the AAF tech platform, ...
- Gleeson, Scott (September 11, 2018). "Alliance of American Football league, spring alternative to NFL, reveals gambling-focused strategy". USA TODAY. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Rovell, Darren (September 10, 2018). "AAF league to have enhanced in-game betting". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Florio, Mike (September 1, 2018). "XFL sends up first salvo in looming AAF feud". ProFootballTalk.com. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
- "Alliance Of American Football Introduces Alliance San Antonio, Final Team for Inaugural Season". OurSports Central. June 21, 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- Balakrishnan, Anita; Salinas, Sara (March 20, 2018). "Peter Thiel's venture firm is backing a new football league to rival the NFL". CNBC. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- Wilson, Ryan (March 20, 2018). "Spring league Alliance of American Football to launch in 2019 on CBS". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
- Steinberg, Leigh (July 26, 2018). "AAF: The League That Fills The NFL Offseason Void". Forbes. Retrieved October 24, 2018.