The Super Bowl is over and the NFL season came to an expected, but unsatisfying end for me. Patriots, Schmatriots. I can turn my attention to hockey, which I will. But I’m a football guy and I can’t quite go without. It’s a lot like my buddy from college that could never be without a significant other. If a relationship ended, he was open for business and hiring immediately. Sure he got catfished, beat up, embezzled from and was prescribed a boat-load of antibiotics...but deep down he was content. That’s how I feel about football. And my fallback has arrived.
I’ve done it before, you know. In 1983, I got my USFL on. I even have my original Pittsburgh Mauler t-shirt from the league’s second season. In 1987, the Pittsburgh Gladiators and (much later on) the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena League caught my eye. I’ve been confused by the Canadian Football league, broke French Bread with the World League of American Football and was intrigued and mildly entertained by the bizarre brainchild of Vince McMahon...the XFL. There’s been others too.
Now thanks to Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, I can get my fix this weekend in the form of the Alliance of American Football. Eight-teams from warmer locales will battle for the love of football-starved fans and the players could compete for a shot at NFL redemption. (See Tommy Maddox, 2001). There’s players you might recognize and coaches you surely will. Pittsburgh fans will rejoice the fact that two all-time heroes, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, are league executives.
Atlanta and Phoenix are the two NFL cities with teams. But for cities deprived of teams behind the shield, they get their taste of professional pigskin. San Diego, two years removed from the Chargers, gets a team again. Birmingham, Salt Lake City, Memphis, San Antonio and Orlando will hope their league sticks this time around.
The rules won’t be too different than the NFL. However, there won’t be kickoffs or extra-point tries (only two-point conversions), but there exists a sky judge to call missed or egregious penalties. Games will attempt to be shorter, as well. CBS will broadcast the opener and the CBS Sports Network will broadcast a weekly game during their ten-week run and the championship will be decided on the weekend of the NFL Draft.
Here’s a guide to the teams:
Arizona Hotshots (Golden Yellow, Forest Green and Orange)
Notable Names: GM Phil Savage, Coach Rick Neuheisel and QB Trevor Knight
Atlanta Legends (Purple, White and Gold)
Notable Names: Coach Kevin Coyle, QB Aaron Murray, QB/RB Denard Robinson and WR Stephen Hill
Birmingham Iron (Black and Grey)
Notable Names: GM Joe Pendry, Coach Tim Lewis, QB Blake Sims, QB Scott Tolzien, RB Trent Richardson, CB JaCorey Shepherd and K Nick Novak
Memphis Express (Red, White and Blue)
Notable Names: Coach Mike Singletary, QB Christian Hackenberg, QB Zach Mettenberger, P Brad Wing and RB Zac Stacy
Orlando Apollos (Navy Blue and Dark Orange and Bright Orange)
Notable Names: Coach Steve Spurrier, QB Stephen Morris, LB Terrance Garvin and DB Will Hill
Salt Lake Stallions (Sky Blue, Royal Blue and Silver)
Notable Names: GM Randy Mueller, Coach Dennis Erickson and RB Matt Asiata
San Antonio Commanders (Maroon, Silver and Red)
Notable Names: GM Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Coach Mike Riley and RB David Cobb
San Diego Fleet (Anthracite Grey, Battleship Grey and Sun Yellow)
Notable Names: Coach Mike Martz, DE Damontre Moore, TE Gavin Escobar and RB Bishop Sankey
The power rankings are already out and the Arizona Hotshots are favored to win it all on paper. But in the AAF, the games are played in stadiums...so anything can happen. I’m going to take my time finding a team, but I’m already leaning towards San Diego. Great city, Mike Martz is a madman, the uniforms are cool and who doesn’t love Travis Freeney?