Leadoff: New pro football league plans to debut early next year

The Alliance of American Football announced plans for a new spring league Tuesday.

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The Alliance of American Football announced plans for a new spring league Tuesday.

Six days after the next NFL season ends with the Super Bowl in Atlanta, a new pro football league plans to begin play.

The Alliance of American Football, the latest attempt at a spring league, announced Tuesday it will kick off its inaugural season Feb. 9, 2019.

The AAF said it will have eight teams, promising to unveil the cities over the next three months. Each team will have a 50-player roster, assembled mainly through a regional allocation of players to cities nearest where they played in college or the NFL.

Among other details announced  Tuesday: The league plans a 10-week regular season, followed by a four-team playoff. It has a national TV deal, with the season opener to be televised on CBS and one regular-season game each week on CBS Sports Network. The league’s co-founders are TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and former longtime NFL executive (and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Bill Polian.

And here are a couple of local connections: J.K. McKay, the older brother of Falcons CEO Rich McKay, will head the upstart league’s football operations, while Hines Ward, former star with the Georgia Bulldogs and Pittsburgh Steelers, will serve in a player-relations role.

“There is a significant amount of football talent looking to begin or extend their professional careers,” Polian said in a news release. “The Alliance will provide those players with a new opportunity to compete at a high level.”

The AAF plans to launch one year ahead of a revived XFL, a former short-lived league that announced in January that it will resurface in 2020.

The AAF said it will alter some football rules. Kickoffs will be eliminated, with offenses instead starting on the 25-yard line. In lieu of onside kicks, the trailing team will receive the ball on their own 35-yard line facing fourth-down-and-10. The extra-point kick will be eliminated, with teams required to attempt 2-point conversions after touchdowns.

Say this for the aspiring league: It has no shortage of plans.

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