A whole new football season will start right after the next Super Bowl.
A spring professional league, the Alliance of American Football, will kick off its inaugural regular season Feb. 9, 2019, and will include a modest broadcast deal with CBS, league executives announced Tuesday.
It is the latest in a string of attempts to create a new pro football league, dating back to the USFL, which folded in 1986. The XFL, founded by professional wrestling magnate Vince McMahon, played a single season in 2001 and shut down. McMahon plans to revive the league in 2020. The Arena Football League, an indoor product founded in 1987, plans to hold a 2018 season with just four teams, including in Washington and Baltimore.
“This [spring football] is a massive gap in the market,” founder Charlie Ebersol said in a news conference. “This is a marketplace of tens of millions of Americans who have been telling us for decades that they want to see high-quality football longer than the football season.”
The AAF, founded by Ebersol — a television and film producer who directed an ESPN documentary about the XFL last year — and longtime NFL executive Bill Polian, will feature eight teams, a 10-game regular season schedule and distinct rule changes designed to speed up each game.
The Alliance will do away with extra points; instead, scoring teams will attempt a two-point conversion from the 2-yard line.
There are no kickoffs. The offense will take the ball from its own 25-yard line. Instead of onside kicks, the scoring team will have one play from its own 35-yard line to convert a fourth down and 10 play to keep the ball.
The Alliance will also have a 30-second play clock (the NFL’s is 40 seconds), replays will be limited to two coach’s challenges for either team, and there will be no television timeouts.
“The game will only stop when it naturally stops,” said Ebersol, whose father, Dick, is a former NBC executive and XFL partner.
The goal is to complete a game in less than 2 1/2 hours, and games will have 60 percent fewer commercials, Ebersol said.
Team names and locations have yet to be announced. Players on 50-man rosters will mostly be those cut by NFL teams and those from other professional football leagues, like the Canadian or arena leagues. The league’s debut and championship game will both appear on CBS, according to a CBS Sports report, and CBS Sports Network will also air one regular season game per week.
The AAF will grant player bonuses based on performance and fan interaction, something in which league officials said they had invested heavily. It will also have its own app where games can be streamed free of charge and where fans can participate in play-by-play fantasy-football-style gaming.
The league also vowed cheap ticket prices — each team will offer seats “between the 20s [yard lines], close to the field” for $35, Ebersol said — and value-priced concessions.
The league, rather than individual franchises, will own each team and the rights of each player. For each season a player spends in the AAF, he will be awarded a year’s scholarship for a post-secondary education, said Justin Tuck, a former NFL defensive end and AAF executive.
Retired NFL all-pros Troy Polamalu and Jared Allen are also among the Alliance’s leadership.
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