Football Season is still here: What is the AAF?

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Atlanta Legends receiver Justin Thomas (10) runs with a recption in front of Orlando Apollos linebacker Andrew Ankrah (55) and defensive end Anthony Moten Jr. (98) during the second half of an Alliance of American Football game Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

If you happened to stumble upon some football games on TV last night, you might have been a bit confused. The Super Bowl was last week, so football season should be over! The NFL season is over, but the Alliance of American Football is just getting started. 

The Alliance of American Football, or AAF for short, is a pseudo-NFL minor league set up to ease the post-Super Bowl football withdrawals, with eight teams: Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet.  

Each team in the AAF will play ten regular season games and the two best teams in each conference will go to the playoffs, which will conclude at the end of April right before the start of NFL minicamp.  

The teams are made up of NFL washouts who want a second chance and young players who were either cut or undrafted and never really got to show what they could do on the field. Every player is given a three-year contract for $250,000 with a clause that allows them to leave for the NFL if they catch a team’s attention. 

Enthusiastic college football fans will recognize guys like Aaron Murray (on the Atlanta Legends), the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, Michigan dual-threat legend Denard Robinson (Atlanta Legends) and Christian Hackenberg (Memphis Express). Former UConn defensive back Jamar Summers also plays for the Birmingham Iron.  

More casual NFL fans might remember names like Nick Folk (Arizona Hotshots), best known for ending Peyton Manning’s career in Indy, and Cleveland Browns’ 2012 1st round bust Trent Richardson (Birmingham Iron).  

The AAF has also attracted a handful of notable coaches from both the college and pro levels. Steve “Old Ball Coach” Spurrier has come out of retirement to coach the Orlando Apollos. Former Super Bowl champions Mike Martz and Mike Singletary have also taken head coaching jobs in the Alliance.  

There are a few interesting rule adaptations that deviate away from the NFL. There are no kickoffs or extra points, every offensive possession will start at the 25-yard line and teams have to go for two after every touchdown. The onside kick has been replaced by the kicking team attempting a 4th and 12 conversion from their own 28-yard line.  

In overtime each team is given one possession on the opposing 10-yard line, and neither team is allowed to kick a field goal. If both teams score, the game ends in a tie.  

The first set of games on Saturday night already produced a few highlight worthy moments, and there should be plenty more where that came from.


Neil Simmons is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at neil.simmons@uconn.edu .

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