AAF will allocate players by region to keep college players local

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When the Alliance of American Football starts play in February, it hopes to put players on the field in front of fans who cheered for them in college.

J.K. McKay, head of football operations for the AAF, told PFT that the AAF’s top priority in stocking the rosters for its teams will be to keep players who played their college football near the AAF’s eight cities close to home.

“You want to keep local kids home when you can,” McKay said. “It creates fan interest. Our Birmingham team will have Alabama and Auburn, and that will draw some fan interest.”

The AAF will have teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Tempe, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego. For players who didn’t go to college near any of those cities, they’ll be allocated to AAF teams based on the last NFL roster they were on. Previous rival leagues, including the USFL and XFL, have taken a similar approach.

“It just makes sense,” McKay said. “You’re bringing in guys people know. From a marketing standpoint it’s good, it allows players to stay home. Other leagues have done it and we’re absolutely committed to it and excited about it.”

McKay said the AAF expects to add a lot of good players in September, picking up training camp players who didn’t make the NFL’s roster cutdown from 90 to 53. The base deal in the AAF will be a three-year, $250,000 contract. Although any player who has the opportunity to play in the NFL is going to choose that over the AAF, McKay said the league has a good idea right now for who some of its top players will be.

“We have a pretty good sense now,” McKay said. “We’ve brought in some really excellent general managers who are experienced in the NFL. We can look now and put together a pretty good list of who you have right now.”

AAF teams will have 75 players on training camp rosters and 50 players on regular season rosters. All eight teams will open a joint training camp at the same location in early January, then break camp and practice in their home cities before the AAF’s inaugural season opens on February 9.

One thing the AAF will not do is bring in college freshmen or sophomores who are not yet eligible for the NFL draft. McKay said he doesn’t think players are ready for pro football until they’re three years out of high school.

“From a health and safety standpoint, we’re concerned about the idea of having a kid come sooner than that,” McKay said.

McKay said he thinks there are enough good football players not in the NFL that the AAF can put on high-quality football.

“The quality of football will determine what we do,” McKay said. “When guys play I think the NFL will take notice and fans will say these guys are good.”

38 responses to “AAF will allocate players by region to keep college players local

  1. not targeting freshman and sophmores is a huge mistake. they could draw some of the top talent away from d-1. there are plenty of players that would prefer not to “do their time” in classes while drawing a legit paycheck.

  2. So, Birmingham will have players from Alabama and Auburn? Gee, I wonder who will be the favorite to win.

  3. Some knocking this league already but I watched the USFL in the 80’s and liked it. Major players like Reggie White, Steve Young and Jim Kelly played there. Not saying thus league will poach players as the USFL did but, some teams deep at certain positions cut really good raw players. Some kid will prove himself there and get on a NFL roster and do well..if the scab teams produced some. Why wouldn’t this league. Plus, some are getting suck of the NFL player drama, rule changes on kickoffs, what a catch really is ect. Might just be pure good football with no drama. I’ll give it a shot. What else is there in July? Training camp? Mid season MLB?

  4. “It creates fan interest. Our Birmingham team will have Alabama and Auburn, and that will draw some fan interest.”

    It will for about two games. Then the sight of an empty decrepit grey cavernous Legions Field on television will broadcast a message of another pro football league destine for failure.

  5. And what degree with the AAF be giving the the players that don’t make it long term in professional sports. To me it’d be extremely foolish to turn your nose up at the total package that college offers in exchange for the quick buck. A shot at a degree. The classes the tutors. The college connections that comes with the power of the alma mater.

    I’m stubborn. I thought I don’t “need” that type of paid support in life. I can make it all on my own. I was dead ass wrong. It’s not about what you know and keeping your head down and working hard. It’s all about who you know and the connections you make. I’m not complaining. I’m admitting to a mistake (I’m living with my mistake. It’s “my” mistake.) that I’d advise others against making. Hard work will only get you so far. People with connections have a much easier path in the work force.

  6. The fix is in and depending on proximity to the colleges with better records some teams are already destined for greatness while others for failure.

  7. With things going arrant in the NFL, e.g. protests, law suits, safety issues, declining viewership, ever increasing game prices and failed relocation of teams (Chargers and Raiders) this leaves an opening as fans become disgusted with Goodell and the NFL. Fans are increasingly being taken for granted by Goodell and NFL owners. The NFL should be concerned. The fan base is the goose that laid the golden egg. All NFL owners can’t have a state-of-the-art-stadium. A fan base can’t be suddenly created with a shiny new stadium with high prices. With that said, all owners are billionaires who could care less because of revenue sharing. Screw the fans.

  8. 1phillyfan – The USFL had outstanding talent – HOF players and I thought it was a good product. But they had owners with deep pockets – Trump, Bassett, etc. They could pay for talent and win a bidding war w/the NFL. They won’t

  9. I was expecting individual teams to go after local players. A bit surprising to see it be a mandatory league-wide rule but there is merit to it. Many of the areas with teams are college football hotbeds. Fans there will enjoy seeing guys they know.

  10. And if Columbus has a team, with all buckeyes on it. There will be zero competition from rest of teams. Should be fun!

  11. jmhalko says: “not targeting freshman and sophmores is a huge mistake. they could draw some of the top talent away from d-1. there are plenty of players that would prefer not to “do their time” in classes while drawing a legit paycheck.”
    ===================================

    Top high school talent with NFL aspirations would get crushed playing in the AAF semi-pro league. These are grown men that already had 3-4 years to bulk up in college as well as having college coaches teach them more advanced (than basic high school) football techniques.

    Better off going to college route to compete against other young, developing kids to pad your stats and get noticed. Exposure is also much bigger on the college circuit with a built-in rabid alma mater fanbase and on-campus hype. AAF stars will barely get any media exposure at all.

  12. And what degree with the AAF be giving the the players that don’t make it long term in professional sports. To me it’d be extremely foolish to turn your nose up at the total package that college offers in exchange for the quick buck. A shot at a degree. The classes the tutors. The college connections that comes with the power of the alma mater.

    I’m stubborn. I thought I don’t “need” that type of paid support in life. I can make it all on my own. I was dead ass wrong. It’s not about what you know and keeping your head down and working hard. It’s all about who you know and the connections you make. I’m not complaining. I’m admitting to a mistake (I’m living with my mistake. It’s “my” mistake.) that I’d advise others against making. Hard work will only get you so far. People with connections have a much easier path in the work force.

    ——

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Making a kid go to a university when they have no interest in being there does nothing for them. I had football and basketball players in some of my classes and they would just pop headphones in and not pay attention. Unless they value the education and opportunity BEFORE they go, there is no reason they need to be there.

  13. HS and FR/SO playersjust aren’t mature enough to handle playing pro, or semi-pro, football. There are NFLPA players who are amazingly immature and who will be broke within 2 years of ending their career.
    Young players don’t know what they don’t know…but they think they know…but they don’t.
    THAT is why they fail.

  14. Why are there no teams in the Midwest? Last I checked, the Big 10 has consistently produced players who succeeded at the next level.

  15. Poor Salt Lake City. Birmingham gets Auburn and Bama. SLC gets BYU and Utah State. Yeesh.

  16. I’m only interested in the team names, logos and merchandise. So far they’ve come up with a generic logo for every team just in a different color. At least I know the XFL will not disappoint in that regard.

  17. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Making a kid go to a university when they have no interest in being there does nothing for them.
    —-
    I never mentioned “making” or implying “mandatory” I was offering advice based on “my own” personal mistakes.

    I know that’s not popular to do these days but it should be. One generation advising the following generation/s of our own regrettable mistakes is something we Americans have lost our way. Even merely admitting to a mistake seems to be frowned upon. Why would anyone listen to some loser that had once made a mistake?

    Someday I hope we all start listening to each other once again. Mistakes that you live with are great teachers. Advice is not mandatory. Like most things, people don’t know what’s good for them until years later. Which is where advice come in handy. Especially when it’s free.

  18. Hooray, year round football games. I’ll watch. Anything to counter year round baseball and basketball. Where you lose75 games (obviously they don’t count) and still make the playoffs. Any level of football is better than that.

  19. Seems like this league could be fun. Give us a team in Raleigh. Wake Forest, UNC, Duke and NC State players would draw some fans.

  20. ochostinko says:
    July 12, 2018 at 12:35 pm
    Why are there no teams in the Midwest? Last I checked, the Big 10 has consistently produced players who succeeded at the next level.

    For the most part, this decision was made with respect to weather and marketing. The AAF plans to have a training camp in January, during the NFL playoffs, and start the season on February 9th, the week following the Super Bowl. In practical terms, this means the AAF is forced to select warm weather cities where there is little to no chance for snow. The other side to it is that cities like San Antonio, San Diego, Tempe, Memphis, Birmingham, are moderately sized cities. Salt Lake City does not have big time college football universities near it, but it has excellent weather for the winter months.

    Unfortunately winter weather patterns make it too risky to have an AAF team in Midwest cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Columbus, etc. In addition the specific cities chosen by the AAF lack an NFL franchise. The Titans play in Nashville not Memphis. Only the Grizzlies of the NBA play in Memphis. The Predators play in Nashville as well. The biggest competition in the chosen cities is a NBA or MLB team.

  21. There’s certainly interest in this country for another pro league. It’s a pity that the NFL refuses to fund a “minor league” because the need is there. No, the NCAA is not the solution as there’s a time limit for how long players can play. Once they graduate or leave school and don’t make an NFL roster for whatever reason, they have very few options. They are in their athletic prime and need a place to play that’s not gimicky (arena football) or have lengthy contracts in a foreign country.

  22. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Making a kid go to a university when they have no interest in being there does nothing for them. I had football and basketball players in some of my classes and they would just pop headphones in and not pay attention. Unless they value the education and opportunity BEFORE they go, there is no reason they need to be there.”

    ——

    That’s very true, but when the college is paying for their equipment, field, coaching, and in many cases (though not all cases) their tuition, you could understand how they would want to at least try and keep up the appearance.

    Plus, some guys actually get their degrees. Big names like Andrew Luck of course, but a lot of other players who want a good backup plan take advantage of it. And other guys-like Bruce Irvin-go back and later and finish. Most don’t, of course, or try too late, but the free credits are valuable to a good many of those guys.

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