The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is a newly created professional American football league that hopes to attract fans who aren’t satisfied with just the regular NFL season. The AAF’s initial season kicked off on February 9, 2019, and will run 10 weeks until April 14, with a championship game on April 27.
The AAF is made up of eight teams, which are divided into two conferences. The Eastern Conference consists of Birmingham Iron, Atlanta Legends, Orlando Apollos, and Memphis Express. The Western Conference includes San Diego Fleet, Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, and the San Antonio Commanders.
AAF games can be viewed on CBS and/or the NFL Network each weekend during the season, and are streamed on the Bleacher Report Live service. The AAF championship will also be aired on CBS.
While the AAF mostly follows the same rules as the NFL, there are a few rule changes. One of the bigger changes is the amount of kicking involved. The teams simply start with the ball at their 25-yard line instead of having kickoffs, and instead of kicking a point after touchdown, teams have to go for a two-point conversion. Onside kicks are not allowed; instead, a team can try to complete a fourth-and-12 from their 28 yard line and keep the ball if they succeed. Teams can still try to kick field goals during regulation time, but field goals are not allowed in overtime.
The AAF also tries to make games faster with fewer commercials and a faster play clock (35 seconds instead of 40). Their games also feature an extra official, called the Sky Judge, who watches the game from the press box and has the authority to overrule the referee in cases of clear error or where player safety is in question.
The AAF is the brainchild of Charlie Ebersol, son of longtime NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol, and Bill Polian, a NFL Hall of Fame executive who has worked for the Bills, Panthers, and Colts. The team rosters are a mix of former NFL players and college standouts.
The AAF does not plan to compete with the NFL. While many alternative football leagues have come and gone over the years, the AAF may have a lasting influence. If their rules changes prove to make the game more fun and competitive, it’s possible they may be later adopted by the NFL.