After much ballyhoo, the Alliance of American Football kicks off on Saturday, February 9, less than one week after one of the most yawn-inducing Super Bowls in recent memory, perfect timing for the new upstart league to make a name for itself. With a bevy of new rules to make the game faster and more exciting and new innovations designed to enhance the fan experience, the AAF intends to make a splash this weekend. Planning to catch a game on the tube or go to a game in person? Here are five things you should know prior to the launch of America’s newest professional football league.
1. Eye In The Sky
In an effort to ensure greater player safety and to avoid a New Orleans moment, the AAF has created a new official called the sky judge. An official in the press box, the sky judge has the jurisdiction to assess penalties for unsafe plays at any time during the game that eight field official might miss. The 360-degree view gives the sky judge the ability to see game action from an advantageous perspective to see helmet-to-helmet contact and pass interference that can be harder for on-field officials to see during a play.
2. There’s An App For It
The AAF developed an app with a handful of features designed to allow fans to have an interactive experience during games. While there are still questions regarding its functionality, the app is expected to allow fans to live-stream games, participate in the real-time fantasy football, and to bet on practically everything on the field. While only a few features will be ready on the app at the beginning of the season. league officials promise that the app will be fully functioning by the AAF Championship later this spring.
Using your favorite gif, how hyped are you that football is back tomorrow?! 🏈 pic.twitter.com/JwYZ8yCd49
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 8, 2019
3. Shorter Is Better
One of the primary complaints about the NFL is the slow pace of the game. AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol has promised games will last about 2.5 hours, almost an hour shorter than the average NFL contest. AAF games will have no TV timeouts, a 30-second play clock, and 60 percent fewer commercials. That just leaves more time for tailgating!
4. Taking the Foot out of Football
The AAF has all but taken the need for kicking out of the game with some radical new rules. For instance, no extra points as teams must attempt a 2-point conversion following a touchdown and no kickoffs with the ball being placed at the 25-yard line after scores and the start of each half. Additionally, the AAF has done away with one of the least-productive plays in the game, the on-side kick. In AAF games, a team must convert a 4th down and 12 yards to go from their own 28-yard line in order to retain possession after a touchdown or field goal.
The inaugural AAF season begins Saturday, February 9. Games can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports, TNT, NFL Network, and B/R Live.