By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicked off its inaugural season on Feb. 9. Eight teams make up this league designed to develop players and give them a second chance. While not affiliated with the NFL, the AAF wants to be a developmental league for them one day.
The amount of influence the NFL has placed in this new league is visible within the AAF’s investors and committee members. Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian, former players Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Jared Allen and Justin Tuck all serve as members of the league’s front office.
Some of the notable players include Birmingham Iron running back Trent Richardson, Arizona Hotshots Safety Rahim Moore, Memphis Express running back Zac Stacy and Express quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
The league’s rules are similar to the NFL, but a few new rules are great additions.
Kickoffs are not in this game as teams start at the 25, something the NFL has considered adopting in the past.
Onside kicks are allowed only if a team is down 17 or with 5 minutes left. Instead of kicking, the team gets one play at their own 28 yard line and need to gain 12 yards. This “4th and 12” situation is still risky because if you don’t convert, the other team has great field position.
Another great feature is an official, called a Sky Judge, who can overturn or change horrible or obvious calls, which is sorely needed after the blown call in the NFC Championship Game. During reviews, a camera and microphone are on the replay official so you can hear exactly what they say to the referee. This allows you to understand why they decide a call and will help to clear up a lot of controversy, giving fans a better experience
The AAF is unique, as the first American league to form since the XFL. While the XFL is set to return in 2020, the AAF was founded not as an entertainment provider but a way to give back to the game of football. The overwhelmingly positive reviews speak to the successful efforts of all involved, and I look forward to seeing how the league progresses over time.