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The Orlando Apollos were a professional American football franchise based in Orlando, Florida, and one of the eight members of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), which began play in February 2019. The team played its home games at Spectrum Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Florida. They were coached by Heisman Trophy winner and former college and National Football League (NFL) head coach Steve Spurrier. NFL front office veteran Tim Ruskell was the general manager and longtime college athletics executive Michael P. Waddell was the team president.

Orlando Apollos
Established 2018
Folded 2019
Played in Spectrum Stadium
in Orlando, Florida
Orlando Apollos logo
League/conference affiliations
Alliance of American Football (2019)
  • Eastern Conference (2019)
Team colorsNavy blue, dark orange & bright orange
              
Personnel
PresidentMichael P. Waddell
General managerTim Ruskell
Head coachSteve Spurrier
Team history
  • Orlando Apollos (2019)
Championships
League championships (0)
Conference championships (0)
Division championships (0)
Home arena(s)

The team's name was inspired by the Greek god Apollo, and his and Florida's connections to the Sun, while the team's colors of orange and navy were tributes to Florida's sunshine and the Apollo program, respectively. The team's helmets depicted Apollo, who commonly pictured as an archer, shooting a bow-and-arrow.[1]

On April 2, 2019, the league's football operations were reportedly suspended,[2][3] and on April 4 the league allowed players to leave their contracts to sign with NFL teams.[4] The league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 17, 2019.[5]

HistoryEdit

On April 7, 2018, Orlando was announced as the first Alliance team along with its coach, Steve Spurrier.[6] On September 20, the league announced four inaugural eastern franchises' names and logos including the Orlando Apollos.[1] On December 4, 2018, the team and iHeart Media announced its broadcasting arrangements.[7]

The final 52-man roster was set on January 30, 2019.[8] The team's first game was at home, Spectrum Stadium, against the Atlanta Legends on February 9, 2019, where they won 40–6.[9]

On February 20, 2019, the league announced that due to Florida worker's compensation laws, the Apollos had moved its practices to Camden County High School in Kingsland, Georgia, with players being housed at hotels in Jacksonville, Florida, and commuting to home games in Orlando. The AAF was unable to secure a league-wide insurance plan prior to the start of the season, and while the state of Georgia will arrange worker's compensation insurance for any business, including professional sports where the majority of practices are held in the state, Florida does not classify professional athletes as employees.[10]

The Apollos began play on February 9, winning their first game in blowout fashion, defeating the Atlanta Legends at Spectrum Stadium, 40–6. They would follow the opening win up with another high-scoring effort on the road, defeating the San Antonio Commanders, 37–29. They would win their first five games, and were the AAF's last undefeated team in the inaugural season before losing to the Arizona Hotshots on March 16, 22–17. However, they bounced back the next week by beating the Atlanta Legends, 36–6, to become the first team in the inaugural season to qualify for the playoffs.[11]

After the league’s suspension of football operations, head coach Spurrier, by virtue of the team's league-leading record, stated, "we’ve got to be the champs, right?"[12] FanDuel Sportsbook declared the Apollos "honorary champions", while paying out futures bets placed on all AAF teams.[13]

PersonnelEdit

StaffEdit

Orlando Apollos staff
Front office
Head coaches
Offensive coaches
 
Defensive coaches
Special teams coaches

Allocation poolEdit

The team's assigned area, which designates player rights, includes the following:[14]

Final rosterEdit

2019 Orlando Apollos final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Rights list


51 Active, 7 Inactive

2019 seasonEdit

2019 Orlando Apollos season
Head coachSteve Spurrier
General managerTim Ruskell
Home fieldSpectrum Stadium
Results
Record7–1
League place1st, Eastern Conference
Orlando Apollos

Final standingsEdit

2019 Alliance of American Football standings
Eastern Conference
Club W–L PCT CONF PF PA DIFF SOS SOV STK
(x)Orlando Apollos 7–1 .875 5–0 236 136 100 .406 .375 W2
(x)Birmingham Iron 5–3 .625 3–2 165 133 32 .406 .300 W1
(e)Memphis Express 2–6 .250 1–4 152 194 -42 .578 .500 L1
(e)Atlanta Legends 2–6 .250 1–4 88 213 -125 .609 .438 L3
Western Conference
Club W–L PCT CONF PF PA DIFF SOS SOV STK
San Antonio Commanders 5–3 .625 3–2 158 154 4 .516 .450 L1
Arizona Hotshots 5–3 .625 3–2 186 144 42 .469 .500 W3
San Diego Fleet 3–5 .375 2–3 158 161 -3 .469 .417 L3
Salt Lake Stallions 3–5 .375 2–3 135 143 -8 .547 .417 W1
(x)–clinched playoff berth; (e)–eliminated from playoff contention

ScheduleEdit

PreseasonEdit

Week Day Date Opponent Results Location
Score Record
Sunday January 27 at San Diego Fleet W 31–28 Alamodome

Regular seasonEdit

All times Eastern

Week Day Date Kickoff TV Opponent Results Location Attendance
Score Record
1 Saturday February 9 8:00 p.m. CBS Atlanta Legends W 40–6 1–0 Spectrum Stadium 20,191
2 Sunday February 17 4:00 p.m. CBSSN at San Antonio Commanders W 37–29 2–0 Alamodome 29,176
3 Saturday February 23 8:00 p.m. NFLN Memphis Express W 21–17 3–0 Spectrum Stadium 20,394
4 Saturday March 2 8:00 p.m. NFLN  at Salt Lake Stallions W 20–11 4–0 Rice–Eccles Stadium 9,302
5 Saturday March 9 2:00 p.m. TNT  at Birmingham Iron W 31–14 5–0 Legion Field 13,310
6 Saturday March 16 8:00 p.m. NFLN Arizona Hotshots L 17–22 5–1 Spectrum Stadium 18,358
7 Saturday March 23 2:00 p.m. TNT  at Atlanta Legends W 36–6 6–1 Georgia State Stadium 11,416
8 Saturday March 30 2:00 p.m. TNT  at Memphis Express W 34–31 7–1 Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 12,417
9 Saturday April 6 8:00 p.m. NFLN San Diego Fleet Not played Spectrum Stadium  
10 Sunday April 14 3:30 p.m. CBSSN Birmingham Iron Spectrum Stadium

  Changed from original time and/or network.[15][16]
Source:[17]

PostseasonEdit

Round Day Date Kickoff TV Opponent Results Location Attendance
Score Record
Semi Sunday April 21 Birmingham Iron Not played Spectrum Stadium  

Game summariesEdit

Week 1: AtlantaEdit

Week One: Atlanta Legends at Orlando Apollos – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Legends 3 3 006
Apollos 0 22 31540

at Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Florida

Game information

In a light rain, the Orlando Apollos hosted the Atlanta Legends in the first week of the Alliance of American Football. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw for 227 yards and two touchdown passes, and caught a touchdown pass. The Apollos dominated the game on both offense and defense. The Orlando defense compiled three sacks, and three interceptions. Terence Garvin had two of the interceptions, the second was returned 5 yards for a touchdown.[19]

Week 2: at San AntonioEdit

Week Two: Orlando Apollos at San Antonio Commanders – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Apollos 0 17 31737
Commanders 12 6 11029

at Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

Game information

With the score tied 29–29 midway through the fourth quarter, Apollos linebacker Keith Reaser intercepted Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside. Reaser returned the ball 39 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Orlando beat San Antonio by the score of 37–29 to improve to 2–0 on the season.[21]

Week 3: MemphisEdit

Week Three: Memphis Express at Orlando Apollos – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Express 0 0 61117
Apollos 9 0 6621

at Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Florida

Game information

A defensive battle in the first half, Orlando led Memphis 9-0 at halftime. The Apollos stretched their lead to 15–6 after a 37-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Gilbert to Rannell Hall on a 4th down & 8. Gilbert later ran for a 21-yard touchdown off a run-pass option play to go up 21–9. Though Memphis cut the lead to 21–17, Orlando put the game away with a clock-burning drive all the way to the Memphis 1 yard line. Gilbert took a knee to end the game, and Orlando improved to 3–0.[23]

Week 4: at Salt LakeEdit

Week Four: Orlando Apollos at Salt Lake Stallions – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Apollos 3 3 8620
Stallions 0 3 8011

at Rice–Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

Game information

On a snowy night in Salt Lake City, Orlando beat the Stallions 20–11 to remain unbeaten. After taking a 6–3 lead at halftime, the Apollos scored two touchdowns in the second half to secure the victory. In the third quarter, quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw a 20-yard touchdown to Donteeya Dye Jr. followed by a 2-point conversion pass from running back D’Ernest Johnson to Sean Price. In the fourth quarter, running back Akeem Hunt scored a 2-yard touchdown run.[25]

Week 5: at BirminghamEdit

Week Five: Orlando Apollos at Birmingham Iron – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Apollos 14 6 3831
Iron 0 8 6014

at Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Game information

Going into the game, Orlando had the best offense in the league, while Birmingham had the best defense. The Apollos, however, beat the Iron handily to improve to 5–0. Orlando put up 468 yards of offense, sacked Birmingham five times, and Keith Reaser made an interception return for a touchdown, his second of the season.[27]

Week 6: ArizonaEdit

Week Six: Arizona Hotshots at Orlando Apollos – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Hotshots 3 11 0822
Apollos 6 3 0817

at Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Florida

Game information

Orlando suffered their first loss of the season against the Arizona Hotshots. Trailing 22–17 with 55 second remaining, the Apollos fielded a punt, and took over at their own 18 yard line. With no timeouts left, Garrett Gilbert threw a 48-yard pass to a wide open Sean Price. At the Hotshots 34 yard line, Gilbert spiked the ball to stop the clock. He then threw a 26-yard completion to Jalin Marshall to the 8 yard line with less than 10 seconds left in regulation. But as the team was scrambling to line up and spike the ball, the Apollos were penalized for a false start. A ten-second runoff was administered, and the game clock expired.[29]

Week 7: at AtlantaEdit

Week Seven: Orlando Apollos at Atlanta Legends – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Apollos 8 6 14836
Legends 0 6 006

at Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Game information

Garrett Gilbert threw for 217 yards and one touchdown pass as Orlando routed Atlanta by the score of 36–6. With the win, the Apollos improved to 6–1 and became the first team to clinch a playoff berth.[31]

Week 8: at MemphisEdit

Week Eight: Orlando Apollos at Memphis Express – Game summary
1 2 34Total
Apollos 3 11 81234
Express 0 9 14831

at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee

Game information

Trailing 31–22 with 5 minutes remaining in regulation, Orlando rallied to beat Memphis by the score of 34–31. Garrett Gilbert threw an 18-yard touchdown to Charles Johnson with 4:49 left to trim the score to 31–28. On the ensuing drive, Memphis fumbled away the snap on a punt, giving Orlando the ball inside the 30 yard line. A few plays later, controversy erupted when Express coach Mike Singletary ran out on the field protesting what appeared to be a delay of game that was not called against the Apollos.[33] Singletary received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Apollos punched the ball in with a 1 yard touchdown run by De'Veon Smith for the game-winning score. Johnny Manziel started at quarterback for the Express, but left the game in the first quarter after a head injury.[34]

MediaEdit

Apollos' games were broadcast on iHeartRadio's Real Radio 104.1 FM with the Apollos' weekly radio show heard Thursdays on WYGM and WJRR HD-2 channel, while a weekday program was heard on a group of thirteen area radio stations.[7] The Apollos also had a weekly TV show every Wednesday night at 11 p.m. on Cox's TV 27. The program, APOLLOS FOOTBALL with Steve Spurrier, allowed fans to get a deeper look at the team, with player features, behind-the-scenes access, and detailed analysis following each game.[35]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Central Florida's newly named football team — the Orlando Apollos — is ready to blast off on a sun-filled, fun-filled journey". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  2. ^ Kercheval, Ben (April 2, 2019). "AAF operations suspended, league's future in doubt after eight games of first season". cbssports.com. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  3. ^ "AAF to immediately suspend operations". ESPN. April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Nick (April 4, 2019). "AAF star Keith Reaser becomes first player to sign NFL deal after league shutdown". USA Today. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  5. ^ "AAF files for bankruptcy, officially closes down", USA Today, AP, April 17, 2019, retrieved April 17, 2019
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Lundine, Susan (December 4, 2018). "Orlando Apollos pro football team snags radio deal with iHeart Media". Orlando Business Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  8. ^ "Orlando Apollos set final roster". Alliance of American Football. January 30, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  9. ^ "Alliance of American Football schedule released for Arizona Hotshots, other 7 teams". AZ Central. USA Today Network. October 16, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Bianchi, Mike (February 20, 2019). "Orlando Apollos will start practicing in Georgia because of Florida workers' compensation laws". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  11. ^ Florio, Mike (March 24, 2019). "Orlando Apollos clinch AAF playoff berth". ProFootballTalk. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  12. ^ Regan, Brett (April 3, 2019). "AAF Champs? There's Another Orlando Team Claiming a Football Title". fanbuzz.com. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Fawkes, Ben (April 4, 2019). "FanDuel to pay out all AAF futures bets for $10K". ESPN. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Inabinett, Mark (July 12, 2018). "Alabama, Auburn players to go on Birmingham AAF team's assignment list". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Florio, Mike (February 25, 2019). "AAF does its first-ever scheduling flex". NBC Sports. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  16. ^ "TNT to exclusively televise two additional AAF games". AAF.com. March 6, 2019. Archived from the original on March 7, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "2019 Orlando Apollos Schedule". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  18. ^ Filipe, Cameron (February 9, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 1, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  19. ^ Alexander, Tom (February 10, 2019). "Orlando Apollos Dominate Atlanta Legends 40-6 in Inaugural Game, Scored Five Touchdowns". SpaceCoastDaily.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  20. ^ Filipe, Cameron (February 13, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 2, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  21. ^ Gordon, Grant (February 17, 2019). "Gilbert, Orlando Apollos rally past Commanders in AAF action". NFL.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  22. ^ Filipe, Cameron (February 22, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 3, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  23. ^ Dunlap, Keith (February 23, 2019). "Apollos move to 3-0 with 21-17 win over Memphis". CkickOrlando.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  24. ^ Filipe, Cameron (February 27, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 4, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  25. ^ Balzer, Howard (March 3, 2019). "Orlando Apollos Remain Undefeated After Overcoming Snowy Conditions In Salt Lake City". SpaceCoastDaily.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  26. ^ Filipe, Cameron (March 9, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 5, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  27. ^ "Apollos defense sets tone in win over Iron". Ocala Star Banner. March 9, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  28. ^ Filipe, Cameron (March 14, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 6, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  29. ^ Alexander, Tom (March 17, 2019). "Orlando Falls to the Arizona Hotshots 22-17 For Apollos' First Loss of Season". SpaceCoastDaily.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  30. ^ Filipe, Cameron (March 21, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 7, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  31. ^ Gordon, Grant (March 23, 2019). "Apollos rebound with rout, clinch postseason berth". NFL.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  32. ^ Filipe, Cameron (March 28, 2019). "Alliance of American Football: Week 8, 2019". Football Zebras. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  33. ^ Giannotto, Mark (March 30, 2019). "Johnny Manziel, Mike Singletary and Steve Spurrier give us the wackiest AAF game yet". Memphis Commercial Appeal. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  34. ^ Maya, Adam (March 30, 2019). "Apollos rally late past Express; Johnny Manziel injured". NFL.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  35. ^ Boyce, Christopher (8 February 2019). "Orlando Apollos season kicks off this weekend; WRDQ TV 27 to broadcast 4 games for 2019". WFTV.

Further readingEdit