The confetti has been swept away in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, signaling an end to football season.
But wait, there’s more! As the late Billy Mays would say.
As six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady and Super Bowl 53 MVP Julian Edelman depart Disney World and the magic kingdom in Orlando, Florida, a new group of football players will take the field in the same city.
On Saturday, February 9th, the upstart Alliance of American Football will play the leagues inaugural games. The season will kick off in Orlando with the Apollos hosting the Atlanta Legends at 8 pm. That game will be followed by the San Diego Fleet playing at the San Antonio Commanders.
The league is advertising themselves as a compliment to the NFL, not a competing league. There are many former NFL players in the upstart league, with 70 percent of the eight-team rosters containing former professional players.
The AAF is brand new and, for the most part, has not been overly discussed. Let’s take a deeper dive into the workings of the league.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 3, 2019
For the most part, the AAF has traditional football rules. There are a few differences, however.
The first thing you may notice is that there aren’t any kickoffs. Instead, teams will start drives from their own 25-yard lines. The reason is to improve player safety by eliminating the most dangerous play in the game. However, no kickoffs also mean no onside kicks. To compensate for this, teams will have the option to play a “fourth and 10” from their own 35-yard line to try and get the ball back. Convert, and they retain possession. Don’t, and the opposition gets the ball with great field position.
Another change is a shorter play-clock. The AAF play-clock will be 35 seconds, as opposed to the 40-second clock in the NFL. The goal is to speed up game play and get games done in two and a half hours.
There will also be no extra points. After all touchdowns, teams must go for a two-point conversion.
If you flip on one of the games over the next few weeks, there will be a good bit of names that you may recognize.
If you’re a Florida Gator football fan, the Orlando Apollos have some notable former players. The Apollos are coached by Gator legend Steve Spurrier. He’ll have plenty of former Gators to coach as well as the team is composed of 7 former Florida football players including quarterback Austin Appleby, wide receiver Chris Thompson and cornerback Will Hill.
Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray might be the most recognizable name at the position in the league as he’ll be playing for the Atlanta Legends. He’ll be joined by former Michigan player Denard Robinson.
Other players of note include the former third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft Trent Richardson. He’ll be a member of the Birmingham Iron, joining another Alabama alum in quarterback Blake Simms.
When the AAF placed teams in their respective cities, the goal was to start franchises in cities that didn’t have an NFL team already. For the most part, the AAF did that. Only two cities, Atlanta and Phoniex, have both an NFL team and an AAF team.
All the teams in the league, but one, reside in the south. Teams have been placed in Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio and Salt Lake City, the lone none-southern team.
The league will last for 10 weeks before playoffs start. Playoffs will include four-teams, with the winners then advancing to the championship game in Las Vegas.
So, for all of you crying softly at night that football season is over, never-fear, the AAF is hear.