Hallelujah, More Football!

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"(The AAF) is another opportunity for (the players) to play the game that they love."

Raghu C. and Hayden K.

Mike Bercovici dropped back, looking to throw… and he’s hit by Shawn Washington. His helmet flew off, the ball is loose. This isn’t the NFL. All we see in that league are 15-yard penalties and fines for a little knock on the shoulder.  

Cue The Alliance of American Football. You might recognize the 15-minute quarters filled with touchdowns and interceptions. This is the filling to the cavity made by the 6-month-long NFL offseason.

The Alliance of American Football was founded by Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol. Its inaugural season began in last month. The league is composed of 8 teams: Salt Lake Stallions, Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Atlanta Legends, San Diego Fleet, Memphis Express, San Antonio Commanders, Orlando Apollos and the Birmingham Iron.

In an effort to learn more about the league, The Howl spoke with J.K. McKay, the AAF’s Head of Football Operations and a former wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“[The AAF] is another opportunity for [the players] to play the game that they love. The NFL didn’t think they were good enough. [The NFL] is going to watch games and they are going to look at [AAF players] and say ‘God, they’re a lot better than I thought,’” said McKay.

The AAF’s season starts in February and ends in April. They will play 10 weeks of football, with games on Saturday and Sunday. The top two teams in each conference will make it to the playoffs. The two final teams will duke it out in Las Vegas for their inaugural championship on April 27.

“We think we are a complementary league to the NFL. We have, in all of our contracts with our players, a provision that says that they can leave our league and go to the NFL – if they get a contract offer from the NFL, where they would make a lot more money than they make in our league,” said McKay.

The AAF is a great way for former NFL players to return to their passion, with less of a risk of getting injured. The league has gotten rid of the single most injury-prone play: the kickoff.

According to Greg Schiano, former Buccaneers coach, “17 percent of the catastrophic injuries happen on kickoffs, yet it’s only about 6 percent of the plays in the game. Well that’s disproportionate.”

“We got rid of the kickoff, because that is where the most concussions occur in the NFL,” McKay said. “That (making rules to insure a safer kickoff) is what the NFL is doing. But we decided, why not just take it out altogether? When you watch our games you don’t really miss it.“  

The AAF will have some competition next year as the XFL makes its long-awaited return. The XFL has a near-identical schedule, starting on February 8, 2020, also with a 10-game regular season.

“We’re just going to do what we do. We’re focused on putting the best possible football on the field and getting the best possible players we can into our league,” McKay said.