The Alliance of American Football launches with eight teams. With the exception of the Atlanta Legends, the remaining seven teams are in major cities that were previously without a pro football team.
Orlando, Memphis, Atlanta and Birmingham are all in southern markets where football is popular. San Diego and Salt Lake both have NBA franchises but were without a football team. San Diego just lost the Chargers to Los Angeles. Part of the AAF’s appeal is each team’s tie-ins with colleges in the area.
For example, Orlando has connections with UCF, Florida, Florida State and USF, all schools within a short drive of where the team plays. Steve Spurrier is the Orlando coach and is wildly popular in the area thanks to his success at Florida.
Former NFL GM Bill Polian helped construct the Alliance of American Football, and noted the league plans to emphasize where each team is located.
“I hope we can get Trent Richardson in Birmingham,” Polian told ESPN. “If Tim [Tebow] decides to play football, I hope we get him. Those are great names.”
The AAF successfully added Richardson, but Tebow is not signed with a team. Several AAF teams will play on college campuses and the league is hoping that the college ties can attract local fans. ESPN detailed how the AAF approached roster construction.
The league will tailor rosters around regional appeal for its teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and Salt Lake City. Expect that Birmingham team to be well-stocked with former Crimson Tide stars, for example. Birmingham can go hard after Auburn talent — unless Atlanta checks in with Twitter recruiting game.
Here’s a look at the innagural eight AAF teams along with their head coaches.
Alliance of American Football Teams
|Arizona Hotshots||Rick Neuheisel|
|Atlanta Legends||Brad Childress|
|Birmingham Iron||Tim Lewis|
|Memphis Express||Mike Singletary|
|Orlando Apollos||Steve Spurrier|
|Salt Lake Stallions||Dennis Erickson|
|San Antonio Commanders||Mike Riley|
|San Diego Fleet||Mike Martz|
The AAF Is Hoping It Can Succeed by Partnering With the NFL
There has been no shortage of football leagues that have tried and failed at having long-term success. The AAF is hoping it can be different thanks to its unique approach. The AAF is not looking to put the NFL out of business but is trying to partner with the league to become an asset for the NFL to add players along with front office executives.
“Since NFL Europe expired 10 years ago, there’s been a real desire and frustration by NFL personnel people that there’s a missing link as far as a developmental type league for prospects that weren’t quite ready,” Arizona GM Phil Savage explained to ESPN.
The AAF also benefits from playing its schedule in the NFL offseason, a time when many fans miss watching football. Time will tell whether the new league will succeed, but its local ties combined with the help of the NFL could give the AAF some staying power.