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Alliance of American Football 2019 Kick Off

You don’t have to wait until September to see pro football this year.

Instead, the new Alliance of American Football league is starting its inaugural season this Saturday, February 9th with four games, featuring six of the eight teams that will play through late April, when the league will crown its first ever champion.

The idea for this league was born back in 2016 when Filmmaker Charlie Ebersol, son of former NBC Executive Dick Ebersol, filmed a documentary on the now-defunct XFL. The younger Ebersol saw that while the XFL lacked in execution and entertaining football, the concept of another professional football league was a viable one.

On March 20th of 2018, Ebersol along with former NFL GM Bill Polian, executive J.K. McKay and retired Pittsburg Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu announced that the league would start playing in 2019. Shortly after, the group announced that the league would feature 8 teams, located in Orlando, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Arizona, Salt Lake, San Antonio, and San Diego.

The teams are divided up into two conferences and will play a 10-week season followed by a four-team playoff.

This is exciting news for football fans, who for too long have had to endure long summers before getting to see the game they love. This league will also feature talented players who, for whatever reason, never panned out at the NFL level.

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Watch the official announcement for the Alliance of American Football

The rules in the AAF will be very similar to that of the NFL, so as not to confuse new fans. The thought is that they want the product to be as recognizable as possible, and avoid some of the pitfalls that sunk the aforementioned XFL. The changes in rules include:

  • No Kickoffs; possession will start at the 25-yard line after touchdowns.
  • No onsides kicks; instead, teams can get the ball on their own 35 and face 4th and 10. If they convert, they can continue their drive. If not, they surrender the ball to the other team.
  • No PATs. All touchdowns will be followed by a 2-point conversion.
  • Play clock will be 35 seconds.
  • No TV timeouts.
  • Two coach’s challenges per team and no challenges in the last two minutes of either half or overtime.
  • Overtime will be “Kansas Playoff” format, with each team receiving a chance to score from the opponent’s 10-yard line on four downs. If the score remains tied after both teams have had their possession, the game ends in a tie.

The changes in the rules compared to the NFL are designed with having a quicker pace of play in mind. Ebersol says he wants the length of games to average about 150 minutes, compared to 180 minutes of NFL game time. The AAF plans to make up for the lost advertising revenue by creating product placement opportunities.

CBS will carry the opening games on February 9th and the Championship game in April. CBSSN will carry one game per week throughout the season and TNT will televise one regular season game and one playoff game per season. This year, the TNT game will be on February 16th as a lead into the NBA all-star game.