League to rival McMahon’s XFL announced

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and The Chernin Group are among the others backing the AAF

FILE PHOTO | Peter Thiel, Technology Entrepreneur, Investor, and Philanthropist speaks in Aspen, CO Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech CC

NEW YORK — The XFL won’t be the only professional football league attempting to rival the NFL in the coming years. It won’t even be the first.

Charlie Ebersol, the director of a documentary on the XFL that aired on ESPN last year, announced his own league, the Alliance of American Football, in New York City on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The AAF will debut on Feb. 9, 2019, the week after Super Bowl LIII, and run 10 weeks before its championship game, which will be televised on CBS.

The league will consist of eight 50-man teams and will have one game a week aired on CBS Sports Network. The rest of the games will be available for viewing on the league’s app, which will be designed to integrate fantasy play, Ebersol told ESPN.

Vince McMahon’s relaunch of the XFL is reportedly scheduled to begin with eight 40-man teams playing a 10-week schedule starting in 2020.

The AAF will be backed by numerous big names from the sport of football. Former NFL general manager Bill Polian will help Ebersol steer the league while former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will oversee the players side and former USC standout and executive J.K. McKay will run the team side.

Also involved as advisers to the league are former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and former New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, as well as Charlie’s father, former NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol, who partnered with McMahon during the XFL’s maiden run in 2001.

Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jared Allen and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and The Chernin Group are among the others backing the AAF.

The cities in which the eight teams comprising the league will reside will be announced in the next several months and will start by having regional drafts, per ESPN. Among the differences from the NFL, the AAF will have no TV timeouts, fewer commercials, no kickoffs and no onside kicks. Play clocks will be 30 seconds and every touchdown must be followed by a two-point conversion attempt.