Tag: Spring Football

Exciting Finishes In Week 5

fleet_wk5
Fleet hang on to beat Stallions

If you need some exciting finishes to football games, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) featured three of four games where the outcome was in doubt until the end.  The surprising result was that the much-anticipated match up between Orlando and Birmingham wasn’t one of them.

Atlanta Legends 23, Memphis Express 20

Legends’ kicker Younghoe Koo booted three field goals, including a 38-yard game-winner, to give Atlanta a 23-20 win over the Memphis Express. Koo remains perfect on the season and improves Atlanta’s record to 2-3.  Legends’ quarterback Aaron Murray passed for over 300 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tarean Folston rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. Seantavius Jones led the team in receiving with five receptions for 89 yards.

San Antonio Commanders 29, Arizona Hotshots 25

This was two different games as the Commanders jumped out to a 26-0 lead. Arizona’s Rashad Ross drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on a pass that had been intercepted, just one play after a holding penalty on the Commanders negated a San Antonio interception. The Hotshots rallied to come within one possession of the Commanders.  However, on the fourth-and-12 “onside conversion” that the AAF uses, the Hotshots were unable to get a throw off. San Antonio moved into a tie atop the West with the San Diego Fleet.

San Diego Fleet 27, Salt Lake Stallions 25

Kameron Kelly had a career night for the Fleet with three interceptions in a 27-25 win over the Salt Lake Stallions. Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum led the Stallions with a 76 -yard drive in the closing minutes of the game to go up 25-24 with less than a minute to play. San Diego quarterback Mike Bercovici answered with a 45-yard pass to Dontez Ford which set up Donny Hageman for the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Orlando Apollos 31, Birmingham Iron 14

This was supposed to be a matchup of two unbeaten teams in the AAF but after Birmingham’s loss last week, it turned out to be less than expected as the Orlando Apollo’s rolled to a convincing win in Birmingham.  The Apollos are averaging an AAF-best 29.8 points per game at the halfway point of the season. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead as quarterback Garrett Gilbert completed 23 of 35 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns against against the league’s top scoring defense. Charles Johnson caught six passes for 83 yards for Orlando, while De’Veon Smith had 119 yards on 14 carries.

AAF NEWS AND NOTES:

  • San Diego Cornerback Kameron Kelly is the defensive player of the week with three interceptions for the Fleet in their win over the Salt Lake Stallions
  • San Antonio Commanders’ quarterback Logan Woodside is the offensive player of the week as he completed 21-of-27 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona.
  • Rumors have been swirling that troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel might join the San Antonio Commanders but do the Commanders really need him?
  • AAF football app is now available on Apple TV
  • Starter has returned to football as the official supplier for the AAF.
  • If you don’t have time to watch an entire AAF game, watch the highlights on YouTube.  Type “AAF Highlights” in the search and click on Highlight Heaven for each game.  They are pretty good quality highlights.

Current AAF Standings:

  • Eastern Division
    • Orlando Apollos (5-0)
    • Birmingham Iron (3-2)
    • Atlanta Legends (2-3)
    • Memphis Express (1-4)
  • Western Division
    • San Antonio Commanders (3-2)
    • San Diego Fleet (3-2)
    • Arizona Hotshots (2-3)
    • Salt Lake Stallions (1-4)

Week 6 Schedule:

  • Memphis at Salt Lake
  • Arizona at Orlando
  • San Antonio at Atlanta
  • Birmingham at San Diego

 

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Friday Flashback: All-American Football League

logoallamericanfootballleagueA decade ago, a unique professional football league was scheduled to kickoff its inaugural season with six teams.  The All-American Football League (AAFL) was founded in 2007 and prepared to start their first season in the spring of 2008.  The AAFL was an attempt to appeal to college football fans.  The league was set up as a professional league with a requirement that all players be college graduates.  The league had a big emphasis on Southeastern Conference (SEC) fans with five of the six franchises located in the southern United States.

The most unusual concept of the league were that the teams did not have nicknames but rather referred to their state.  The six original teams and home fields were:

  • Alabama (Legion Field, Birmingham)
  • Arkansas (War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock)
  • Florida (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville)
  • Michigan (Ford Field, Detroit)
  • Tennessee (Neyland Stadium, Knoxville)
  • Texas (Rice Stadium, Houston)

aafl_logosThe league actually had agreements from college universities to use their stadiums for the spring months.  Each team drafted and/or signed players that graduated from the host state’s universities.

The AAFL Draft took place in Atlanta on Saturday, January 26, 2008. The first player selected overall was Zarah Yisrael, offensive lineman from Troy University, who was picked by Team Arkansas. The 2001 Heisman Trophy award winner Eric Crouch was selected with the third pick by Team Texas.

The league had planned to play a 10-game season for 2008, from April 12 to June 14, with all six teams to play in one division during the first season. The teams with the second and third best records in the regular season would meet in a playoff for the right to face the number one team in a championship game to be played on July 3, 2008. The AAFL released its schedule in October, 2007, with the April 12, 2008 games consisting of Alabama at Florida (at Jacksonville), Arkansas at Texas, and Michigan at Tennessee.

Shortly before the season was set to begin, the league announced it would postpone the start until the spring of 2009 but the league was never heard from again.  Various accounts about the demise of the league claims that financing of the league was indirectly tied to the $300 billion federally guaranteed student loan asset backed securities market; however, in August, the sub prime mortgage crisis hit and possibly affected the financial backing of the league.

It’s really too bad that this league didn’t make it.  I actually think a league where each state has their own team would be a good idea although I’m not sure it would work with college football fans if their teams weren’t properly represented but maybe a concept that features the state’s colors or flag as their team colors/logos might create some good rivalries.

Alliance of American Football to Kickoff in 2019

alliance-of-american-footballAnother professional football league has plans in the works to fill the void for football fans in the offseason of 2019 when the Alliance of American Football (AAF) plans to begin play in February 2019 with eight teams with the championship to be played on the last weekend of April 2019.

Yes, we have heard this one before haven’t we?  The last time we heard something like this was a league called Major League Football which failed before it even took the field a couple of years ago.  Of course, there were the more notable leagues such as the United States Football League (USFL), XFL and World League of American Football/NFL-Europe.

What makes this one so different?

This new league is backed by television and film producer Charlie Ebersol, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, four-time All-Pro Jared Allen and two-time Super Bowl champions Justin Tuck and Troy Polamalu so this kinda gets your attention that it could be a legitimate effort.

Personally, I love the rule changes that this league will offer such as:

  • Eliminating kickoffs and allowing the offense to start on the 25 yard line
  • In place of the onside kick, the trailing team will receive the ball on their own 35 yard line facing fourth down and 10.
  • Instituting a shorter play clock and fewer commercial breaks in the interest of shortening the total time of game
  • Eliminating the extra point requiring two-point conversions after every touchdown

The league will have eight teams playing 10-game schedules.  There is no word yet on where those eight franchises will be located but is planned to be announced in June. I would guess that teams would be placed in New York, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Diego, San Antonio and San Jose.  I would think a new league would want to take advantage of cities that have been snubbed by the NFL.

The CBS Sports Network will televise games during the season.

The AAF will not be affiliated with the National Football League (NFL) and will most likely have their rosters filled with players who aren’t drafted by NFL teams, former players or players that have been cut from NFL teams.

Other spring leagues that have failed in the past:

  • United States Football League (1983-1985)
    • usflKey Personnel:  David Dixon, Donald Trump, George Allen, Sid Gillman, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, Marv Levy, Bill Polian, Steve Young
    •  Teams
      • Arizona Wranglers/Outlaws
      • Birmingham Stallions
      • Boston/New Orleans/Portland Breakers
      • Chicago Blitz
      • Denver Gold
      • Los Angeles Express
      • Michigan Panthers
      • New Jersey Generals
      • Oakland Invaders
      • Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars
      • Tampa Bay Bandits
      • Washington Federals/Orlando Renegades
      • Houston Gamblers
      • Jacksonville Bulls
      • Memphis Showboats
      • Oklahoma Outlaws
      • Pittsburgh Maulers
      • San Antonio Gunslingers
  • World League of American Football/NFL-Europe (1991-2007)
    • wlafKey Personnel:  Tex Schramm, Oliver Luck, Mike Lynn
    •  Teams
      • Birmingham Fire
      • Montreal Machine
      • New York/New Jersey Knights
      • Ohio Glory
      • Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks
      • Sacramento Surge
      • San Antonio Riders
      • Amsterdam Admirals
      • Barcelona Dragons
      • London Monarchs
      • Frankfurt Galaxy
      • Berlin Thunder
      • Cologne Centurions
      • Rhein Fire
      • Scottish Claymores
      • Hamburg Sea Devils
  • XFL (2001)
    • xfl2Key Personnel:  Vince McMahon, Tommy Maddox, Galen Hall
    •  Teams
      • Birmingham Thunderbolts
      • Orlando Rage
      • New York/New Jersey Hitmen
      • Chicago Enforcers
      • Las Vegas Outlaws
      • Los Angeles Xtreme
      • San Francisco Demons
      • Memphis Maniax
  • Major League Football (2014) – never played
    • mlfbKey Personnel:  Wes Chandler, Dave Campo, Ted Cottrell, Galen Hall
    •  Teams
      • Alabama Airborne
      • Arkansas Attack
      • Florida Fusion
      • Northwest Empire
      • Ohio Union
      • Oklahoma Nation
      • Oregon Crash
      • Texas Independence
      • Utah Stand
      • Virginia Armada
  • Professional Spring Football League (1991) – never played
    • psflKey Personnel:  Vincent Sette, Rex Lardner
    •  Teams
      • Arkansas Miners
      • Carolina Cougars
      • Miami Tribe
      • Nevada Aces
      • New England Blitz
      • New Mexico Rattlesnakes
      • Oregon Lightning Bolts
      • Tampa Bay Outlaws
      • Utah Pioneers
      • Washington Spirit
  • All-American Football League (2010) – never played
    • AAFL_LogoKey Personnel:  Doug Dickey, Shane Matthews, Mike Jones, John Fontes, Andy Kelly
    •  Teams
      • Alabama
      • Arkansas
      • Tennessee
      • Florida
      • Michigan
      • Texas
    • Note:  The league teams had no nicknames and were going to target college football fans including playing in college football stadiums.

A-11 Football League (2014) – never played af11

  • Key Personnel:  Scott McKibben, CEO & Executive Director at Oakland Alameda Coliseum Authority.
  • Teams
    • Bay Area Sea Lions
    • Chicago Staggs
    • Dallas Wranglers
    • Denver Gold
    • Los Angeles Express
    • Michigan Panthers
    • New Jersey Generals
    • Philadelphia Stars
    • Tampa Bay Bandits

So will this new Alliance of American Football make it and walk past the graves of other failed leagues?  I love football but I have to admit that it has always been difficult to get into spring football leagues.  As much as I love football, I like having the break and having a second-class football league doesn’t seem appealing to me.  Football leagues usually cost a lot of money and new leagues have to be able to suffer the financial losses to survive.

The new AAF hopes to involve fans in the league with a better version of the NFL.  Fans will be able to stream AAF matchups live via a free app, while also accessing integrated fantasy options with real prizes — for themselves and the players they root for. Ebersol also says the league will offer “family pricing” with more affordable tickets to games.

Do I think it will last?  No.  History is against it.  It will be an accomplishment if it lasts two seasons.

Friday Flashback:  World League of American Football

On March 24, 1991, the Barcelona Dragons defeated the New York/New Jersey Knights 19-7 in the first game of the World League of American Football (WLAF).  The WLAF was the first National Football League (NFL) supported spring football football league which not only consisted of cities in North American but also in Europe.  The league lasted for the next 16 spring seasons, with a short restructuring period from 1993-94, and served as a developmental league for the NFL.  

The teams were largely stocked by NFL teams to give younger players additional game experience and coaching.  The league was the financial support for teams in addition to the players and coaching staffs.  

The first season featured 12 teams.  They were the Birimingham Fire, Sacramento Surge, San Antonio Riders, Montreal Machine, New York/New Jersey Knights, Orlando Thunder, Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, Barcelona Dragons, Frankfurt Galaxy and London Monarchs.

The league incorporated some new ideas such as using the two-point conversion rule before the NFL officially adopted it in 1994.  Other changes were using a shorter kickoff tee, the four-point field goal from over 50 yards and numerous technical innovations such as helmet mounted cameras, one-way radios between coaches and quarterbacks.

Average game attendance throughout the league’s existence was 25,361 but the league was not the hit in the United States that was expected.  London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Montreal surpassed early expectations and the Monarchs won the 1991 World Bowl title at Wembly Stadium in front of 61,108.

Honestly, there aren’t any names that really stand out from the players during that season.  Stan Gelbaugh (London) led the league with 2,656 passing yards.  Gelbaugh later played 13 games with the Seattle Seahawks from 1992-1996.  He was 1-11 as a starter.  Eric Wilkerson (NY/NJ) was the leading rusher with 717 yards.  

The WLAF evolved into NFL Europe for the 1998 season with all six teams located in Europe.  The Hamburg Sea Devils won the final league title on June 23, 2007 defeating the Frankfurt Galaxy 37-28.