From AAF to FFL to XFL, here's a guide to all the new non-NFL football leagues

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SDRay

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https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/from-aaf-to-ffl-to-xfl-heres-a-guide-to-all-the-new-non-nfl-football-leagues/

The NFL runs the show when it comes to major professional sports leagues, but these days, it's also one of just a bunch of leagues vying for your support in the football arena.

Does that mean the NFL is in trouble? Not really. Like it or not, the NFL is about as iconic as its most storied brands (think the Dallas Cowboys), and until it either folds on its own or the entire Earth caves in, it's not likely we're going to be talking about professional football without talking about the NFL.

And yet, if you're a football fan, it can get kind of confusing trying to keep track of all the other leagues.

You've got your familiar alternatives, like the CFL and AFL. You've got your resurrected memories, like the XFL. You've got your brand-new startups, like the AAF. And then you've got your wacky developmental ones, like the IFL, the CIF, the NAL and the ZFL. (Only one of those is made up!)

Good thing for you that you stumbled onto this handy-dandy cheat sheet:

NFL
The National Football League is the one you know and love. Founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (another stinkin' name!), it became the NFL in 1922, merged with the American Football League prior to the 1970 season to form the NFC and AFC conferences and has hosted Super Bowls as championships since then. It began with 14 teams and now includes 32, who play 16 regular-season games using standard American football rules. Oh, and its multi-billion-dollar business is the best in sports.

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CFL
The Canadian Football League is the only major professional football league in Canada. Founded in 1958 as a merger between two football unions, one of which originated as rugby-style football as early as the 1860s, it includes nine teams that play 18-game seasons and hosts Grey Cup championships at the end of each year. CFL rules permit more players and bigger fields in games.

AFL
The Arena Football League is the third longest-running pro football league in North America behind the NFL and CFL. Founded in 1987, it peaked with 19 teams in the 2000s but now includes four that play 12-game seasons on smaller, walled-off fields with a faster style of play. From 2000-09, it had its own 25-team developmental league, the af2.

AAF
The Alliance of American Football is an upcoming unofficial complement to the NFL. Founded by Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian, it will debut in February 2019 with eight teams and a 10-game schedule into the spring. Its coaching hires, regional roster allocation and inaugural quarterback draft have NFL roots, but slight rule changes and focus on streamlined fantasy football for fans give it a modern twist.

XFL
The XFL originally debuted in 2001 as a joint venture between NBC and WWE, lasting just one season as a rougher, wilder and less-talented version of NFL football during the spring. It's now set for a 2020 return -- with a much different tilt -- under WWE CEO and original league founder Vince McMahon, who's announced eight XFL-owned teams that will compete directly with the NFL under commissioner Oliver Luck.

AFFL
The American Flag Football League was founded in 2017 as the "American Idol" of flag football, an open-registration tournament pitting everyday athletes against professional teams. After a pilot debut starring ex-NFL stars like Michael Vick, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, the AFFL hosted its first U.S. Open of Flag Football on NFL Network in 2018, featuring four pro teams with former NFL, NBA and Olympic athletes.

FFL
The Freedom Football League is another upcoming spring league mirroring NFL rules. Former players Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and Simeon Rice are among 100 stakeholders for the surprise 10-team league, ex-NFL star Ricky Williams announced, which will make season-ticket-holding fans "part-owners." Filling soon-to-be NFL voids like Oakland and St. Louis, it promises "economic justice" through its joint ownership structure.

IFL
The Indoor Football League kicked off in 2009 during a one-year shutdown of the Arena Football League, and since then, it has become the AFL's chief competition. Formed out of a merger between the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football (yes, seriously), the IFL includes 10 teams -- some of which were pillaged from the AFL -- playing 14-game seasons.

The Spring League
The Spring League was founded in 2016 and debuted in 2017 as an "instructional league" and unofficial showcase for NFL and CFL scouts, with four teams playing fall and spring tournaments. Home for ex-NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2018, it is set to serve as a potential bridge to AAF and XFL rosters in the coming years.

Still with us? Then you'll love to know there have been plenty of other pro football leagues in the past, too. Here's a quick refresher on a few of the most notable leagues that are no longer with us:

  • NFL Europe: Formerly NFL Europa and the World League of American Football, this was the NFL's last official developmental league, running from 1991-92 and again from 1995-2007 with as many as 10 teams
  • USFL: The United States Football League is something of a cult classic these days, challenging the NFL and luring several Heisman Trophy winners for its short-lived 1983-86 run, when President Donald Trump was among team owners
  • UFL: The United Football League targeted non-NFL markets like Omaha and Las Vegas and timed its 2009-12 run over a brief NFL lockout, hosting a total of six franchises before folding.
 

Fender57

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Sep 7, 2008
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So the XFL will compete directly with the NFL. Good luck with that Vinnie.
 

Lance19

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Oct 2, 2011
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Wherever these Valkyries drop me...
I've said all along that the guys pointing at TV ratings
(and claiming that that somehow means fans are unhappy with the NFL, or--even dumber--that kneeling is somehow so rough on snowflakes that hordes of fragile flowers are tuning out)
and claiming that the NFL is in some kind of trouble, are insane.
The NFL is absolutely the most successful sports enterprise, period, objectively measured by interest, ratings and cash.

That said, they have had the benefit of no USFL-level competition for a long time.
Do I see The Fleet, Warriors, etc. as a real threat to the NFL? No, no reason to think that.
But, I can see it taking a small bite:
Picture a family that loves NFL football, but is slowly getting priced out. But they keep paying up because there has been no decent alternative.
Some of these new leagues, if they can provide a product on the field that feels like 75% or 80% of an NFL game, at 20% the price,
can poach some of the NFL money on the margins.
 

Harryo the K

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2017
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I've said all along that the guys pointing at TV ratings
(and claiming that that somehow means fans are unhappy with the NFL, or--even dumber--that kneeling is somehow so rough on snowflakes that hordes of fragile flowers are tuning out)
and claiming that the NFL is in some kind of trouble, are insane.
The NFL is absolutely the most successful sports enterprise, period, objectively measured by interest, ratings and cash.

That said, they have had the benefit of no USFL-level competition for a long time.
Do I see The Fleet, Warriors, etc. as a real threat to the NFL? No, no reason to think that.
But, I can see it taking a small bite:
Picture a family that loves NFL football, but is slowly getting priced out. But they keep paying up because there has been no decent alternative.
Some of these new leagues, if they can provide a product on the field that feels like 75% or 80% of an NFL game, at 20% the price,
can poach some of the NFL money on the margins.
Well said. The NFL is based on live streaming contracts, TV contracts, and the new stadiums are geared, actually demand, high priced paying long range customers. A fan going to a game to 'support' the team is no longer the business model. Teams (like the chargers) are like a hit TV show, if it works out great, if not, reboot the product. These other Leagues are filling in the fan void for a number of formerly NFL market areas (St. Louis, San Diego, etc.). Soon advertisers --far more than the play on the field--will start questioning their rates, if fans in say, San Diego, can see the game but don't, the advertiser will probably want rates such as this percentage fee before the ads....this percentage after the ad runs depending on their entire market zone. Nice to say chargers have 'this rating in LA' but if folks in Northern CA and Lower California aren't seeing that new car ad, they're wasting money.
 
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