The Alliance of American Football (AAF) started play on Feb. 9, 2019. The league consists of eight teams including the Arizona Hotshots, Orlando Apollos, Birmingham Iron, San Antonio Commanders, Salt Lake Stallions, San Diego Fleet, Atlanta Legends, and Memphis Express. The first games in the league’s history were played only six days after the NFL’s super bowl game. Players in the AAF consist mainly of those that have been cut from practice squads in the NFL and undrafted players coming out of college.
The East division consists of the Apollos, Iron, Legends, and Express. The West division is home to the Hotshots, Commanders, Fleet, and Stallions. The Apollos lead the East with the only undefeated record in the league at 4-0. The Hotshots, Commanders, and Fleet are all tied for first in the West with a record of 2-2.
There is some debate about the creation of this league as there is already the NFL and CFL playing the the US and Canada, respectively. Junior Nick Greco thought that the creation of the AAF was beneficial to players, saying, “the players can get exposure to go to the NFL. I could go to a game to see potential NFL players for the future.”
Multiple AAF teams have former NFL players and staff on their roster. A few known NFL players now in the AAF league include Quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg, Scott Tolzien, and Josh Johnson. One of the most well known coaches in the AAF is Mike Singletary who coached the San Francisco 49ers in his time coaching in the NFL. Singletary also played linebacker in the NFL and was voted into the pro bowl ten times throughout his career.
The AAF recently asked former NFL quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Colin Kaepernick to join the league. Both players have tainted reputations in the NFL that has made playing in the NFL a difficult task.
Johnny Manziel is known to have had an illustrious college career, winning the Heisman trophy in his senior year at Texas A&M. Manziel was drafted in the first round in the 2014 NFL draft. However, Manziel did not play up to expectations and also got into trouble from partying, an assault on a woman, and other questionable actions on social media. The combination of Manziel’s off-field actions and sub-par play ended up putting Manziel in Canada to play football for the CFL, and ultimately getting cut there, as well.
Colin Kaepernick’s issues with the NFL stems from a political statement made by Kaepernick in the 2016 season, when he decided to sit and kneel during the national anthem of multiple games. Kaepernick’s goal was to shed light on and protest police brutality in America. Kaepernick’s actions raised a lot of controversy, as some thought that he was disrespecting the country and military members by kneeling. President Trump even tweeted about the issue, saying that those that kneel during the national anthem should not be allowed and anyone who participated in it should be penalized.
Having Manziel and Kaepernick join the league would provide the AAF with publicity and popularity moving forward as a platform for skilled football players to get real competition in hopes to make it to the NFL in the future.