Following the conclusion of the NFL, a new 8-team pro football league has been conceived. The AAF or Alliance of American Football was designed to fill the void of football post-Super Bowl.
This football minor-league was also created with a focus on providing valuable training and insight to an exclusive league that very few are capable of reaching.
This pipeline will allow young and developing players plenty of time to perfect their craft in their attempt to make the push toward the next level.
The AAF also allows former NFL players that opportunity to get back to the league they were once apart of. Some notable examples of this include Trent Richardson, Christian Hackenberg, Zach Mettenberger and Josh Johnson among others.
Coaches and Executives also possess extensive NFL experience and knowledge. Some examples of this include Hall-of-Famers Mike Singletary (head coach of the Memphis Express) and Bill Polian (co-founder of the AAF).
It has been reported that the coaches and staff within the AAF have combined for over 150 years of NFL experience. This is made evident with former NFL greats making up the leadership board such asTroy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Jared Allen. Justin Tuck also serves on the player engagement advisory board for the league.
The thing that makes this league different from others that have attempted this move in the past is that the AAF has seemingly embraced the little sibling role with the NFL, rather than attempting to compete with the 100-year-old league.
Another aspect of the AAF that has intrigued viewers is that they have introduced new rules and methods. Some of the most notable being the removal of kickoffs, extra points and onside kicks.
Instead of kickoffs, each team will get the ball at their own 25-yard line. This is an interesting take on one of the most electrifying aspects of the game as well as taking a stronger approach to player safety.
Although the no-kickoff approach is a very good solution to player safety concerns, it will prevent players that extra opportunity to showcase their play style in the way of special teams and kick returns.
Getting rid of extra points doesn’t provide much in terms of player safety but rather improving on one of the slower moments in the game of football. The gamble of the 2-pointconversion will provide an extra spark following a score that could help propel the momentum of a team even further.
The removal of onside kicks may be the most intriguing rule change. Although it is a very good trick play when executed to perfection and a very bad one when not.
Alongside the no-kickoff rule, the AAF seems to be trying to shift the focus away from a strong kicking game and focusing more on an explosive offensive campaign.
In place of the onside kick, teams are now given the opportunity to possess the ball on their own 28 in a 4th and 12 situation. The confusing aspect of this is that you can only do it when down by 17 or more points with less than five minutes to play in the game. Thus eliminating the chance of a random onside kick or trying to retain possession in a closer game.
One aspect of the game that Saints fans are sure to enjoy (although it might be a month too late) is the Sky Judge which is a 9th official that will be in the press box with the ability to pick up or throw a flag that an on-field official might miss.
This is primarily in regards to player safety but they also have the ability to throw a flag for pass interference in the final five minutes of a game.
Some of these rule changes directly differ from the NFL’s approach, but a majority of the rules are universal across the two leagues. This will help in the long run with players, coaches, referees and announcers changing from league to league.
After the eight franchises met for week 1, it was up in the air on how the games would play out. With only one team being shut out in the Memphis Express (the team I, unfortunately, choose to become a day 1 fan for), it was a fairly exciting and interesting inaugural week.
The results ended up being the San Antonio Commanders beating the San Diego Fleet 15-6, the Orlando Apollos besting the Atlanta Legends in a 40-6 game, the Birmingham Iron blowing out the Memphis Express 26-0 and the Arizona Hotshots winning 38-22 against the Salt Lake City Stallions.
The clear outlier was the Orlando Apollos scoring the most points for the week (40) and allowing among the fewest points (6). They were predicted to have the 3rd best odds (although they were tied with 2 others teams in an 8-team league) before the season began.
After their impressive showings in the first week, the Apollos are co-frontrunners with the Arizona Hotshots in this new and unpredictable league.
With the first week in the books, who do you think will win the championship game that is slated for April 27th and who is going to be your team?