Another pro football league is set to launch in 2019 — prior to XFL kicking off
The XFL and AFL will have new competition for NFL fans’ offseason viewership.
The Alliance of American Football, a new professional football league headed by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, is set to launch in 2019. The new league is set to be announced Tuesday afternoon in a news conference with Polian, Ebersol and former NFL standouts Jared Allen and Justin Tuck.
The AAF, which has secured a broadcast deal with CBS, will launch following Super Bowl LIII in February 2019 and will kick off one year prior to Vince McMahon’s XFL reboot in 2020.
The league will be comprised of eight teams led by former NFL players and run by former league executives. It is expected to include a ten-week regular season and four-week playoff, and CBS will air two AAF games in primetime.
The AAF, according to co-founder Ebersol — the son of former NBC executive Dick Ebersol, who’ll serve on the new league’s board — is focused on player safety, profit and fan participation.
“We believe fans and players are what’s most important, so our approach is simple — we’ve created an Alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams,” Charlie Ebersol said, via variety.com.
In an interesting twist of fate, Charlie Ebersol directed an episode of the ESPN docuseries “30 For 30” on why the XFL failed. Now Ebersol and McMahon will be going head to head on developing offseason alternatives for football viewers during the NFL’s downtime.
The XFL is set to return in 2020, but Pro Football Hall of Famer Polian’s and other former NFL stars’ involvement could add a layer of intrigue to the AAF, the latest pro football league vying to capitalize on the NFL’s recent perceived vulnerability.
AAF teams will have 50-man rosters and will be run as a “single-entity league,” giving the league full ownership over the individual teams. The rosters are expected to include players who played collegiately nearby their AAF teams’ markets to provide regional appeal.
Other variances from the NFL include the removal of kickoffs, onside kicks and — get this — the three-point stance altogether, changes directed toward making the AAF a safer football alternative. A couple interesting changes designed with fan interest in mind are two-point conversions replacing extra points and a sped up play clock compared to the NFL’s usual 40 seconds.
“We will give players an opportunity to flourish on the field while establishing plans to support their personal and professional growth, health, safety and financial well-being,” Polian said in a statement.
Those opportunities will include incentive-based bonuses for players and post-education scholarship offerings for players based on their tenure in the league, in addition to post-football counseling and career advice.