Alliance of American Football Here to Stay 

This league is different. Co-founded by Bill Polian, Pro Football Hall of Fame executive, and Charlie Ebersol, a longtime TV and film producer, the Alliance of American Football is something the football world has never seen, and it should be welcomed with open arms.

Arguably the biggest difference between the Alliance and other non-NFL football leagues is that the Alliance is not trying to compete with the NFL for customers. The USFL and countless other spinoff leagues have demonstrated that no one can compete with the massive corporation that is the NFL. Instead, the Alliance seeks to develop players who still have NFL dreams, the first developmental league of its kind. Unlike the other three major North American sports, professional football is the only sport to not have an affiliated minor league. While the Alliance is not directly affiliated with the NFL, the long-term goal of the league is to be able to send its best players to the NFL.

What makes the Alliance even more interesting to the NFL (and its fans) is the unique rule changes designed to promote both safety and intrigue. The most significant change to the rules is the elimination of the kickoff to start a pos- session. To Polian, the elimination of the kickoff was essential. It eliminates the play that generates the most concussions. In lieu of a kickoff, teams will start with the ball on their own 25 yard line. Other notable changes include no extra points after touchdowns (teams must attempt a two-point conversion instead), a five sec- ond shorter play clock and a completely different overtime. Teams will each get the chance to possess the ball once from the opponent ten-yard line. No field goals are allowed in overtime, and the game can end in a tie.

“We’re not afraid of ties,” league consultant and former NFL Vice-President of Officiating Mike Pereira said. “It creates some excitement.”

Of all the new rule changes, the one that has undoubtedly caused the most buzz in the football world is the replacement of the onside kick with the newly dubbed onside conversion. If a team is trailing by at least 17 points or is losing with under five minutes to play, they have the choice to recover the ball by converting a fourth and 12 from their own 28 yard line. If the team converts, the drive continues. If not, the opposing team receives the ball where the defense stopped the ball.

Aside from its new rules, what makes the Alliance even more appealing is its commitment to player development off the field. Every player that finishes at least one season in the league will get a stipend toward a secondary education. Because most of the players are still young, the league also offers an internship program for its players in order to prepare them for life after football, in case they don’t catch on with an NFL team.

Football sorely needed a league like the Alliance of American Football that focuses on player development. With several coaches in the league having NFL experience and with the backing of several former players, some who serve in advisory roles, the Alliance has an air of legitimacy never seen in another football league since the emergence of the modern NFL.

Contact Zachary Schiller at [email protected].