If you’re one who slips into a deep, dark depression moments after the Super Bowl, you may soon have reason to celebrate. The Alliance of Professional Football (AAF), the nation’s newest professional football league, is set to debut in February 2019, one week after the Super Bowl.
While it may be true that there have been a dozen or so fly-by-night football leagues promising football fans more of their favorite sport well into the spring, there is a glimmer of hope that the AAF will be around for a while. The league was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, son of former NBC-sports executive Dick Ebersol, and long-time professional football executive Bill Polian, and boasts among its roster of leaders former NFL stars such as Troy Polamalu, Head of Player Relations, and Justin Tuck, Player Management Board of Advisors.
While details are still a little sketchy, the AAF’s website states that new league will start with eight teams – cities to be named later – in a single-entity structure, and promises a “dynamic bond between players, fans, and the game.” Other innovations include the ability to stream games through the league’s app, and an integrated fantasy league with “real rewards” for the fans as well as the players.
The league is also taking some cues from the recent developments and controversies regarding head and neck injuries currently plaguing the sport. Again, details are limited at the time of this writing, however, according to the league’s website players will be outfitted with state-of-the-art protection.
News of the new league was made public in March, not too long after WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon announced plans to bring back the failed XFL in 2020. The rush to launch new professional football leagues comes on the heels of a disastrous 2018 season for the National Football League which saw game attendance and television viewership crater in response to the league’s stance on players kneeling during the National Anthem.
The AAF begins its inaugural 12-week season on February 9, 2019. Games will be broadcast on CBS and the season will culminate with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28, 2019.