The Alliance of American Football hopes to satisfy fans’ and players’ gridiron needs during the NFL offseason.
Charlie Ebersol, the documentary filmmaker and son of longtime TV executive Dick Ebersol, announced Tuesday the AAF will play its inaugural season next year, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
The new football league will play a 10-week season, starting Feb. 9, 2019, one week after the NFL season concludes with Super Bowl LIII and one year prior to the expected start of the relaunched XFL.
The AAF will be made up of eight teams, which the league will announce in the coming months. Ebersol intends to stock teams with high-level college football players who didn’t make the cut in the NFL.
“There are 28,000 Division I football players,” Ebersol said. “Only 1,700 have NFL jobs. We’re looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores and we think we will find them.”
Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will oversee the players’ side, while ex-NFL general manager and current ESPN football analyst Bill Polian will steer the league, according to Rovell. Ex-Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will be an AAF advisor, as will former New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
Some AAF rules will be different than the NFL’s. Touchdowns must be followed by two-point conversion attempts, and there will be no kickoffs or onside kicks, as the ball will be placed automatically at the 25-yard line. Play clocks will be 30 seconds, and there will be no TV timeouts and fewer commercials on games broadcast on CBS and livestreamed on the AAF website.
Fantasy Football will be an essential component of the AAF’s marketing strategy.
“Fifty-nine million people play fantasy and 20 million people play only fantasy football,” Ebersol said. “We have to be able to take advantage of the people who just stop playing fantasy when the NFL season ends.”
Time will tell whether this thing catches on.