Peter Thiel invests in new pro football league
- Author: Rosalie Stanley Mar 21, 2018,
Mar 21, 2018, 3:25
Charlie Ebersol, the son of original XFL co-founder Dick Ebersol, heads a leadership team that includes former National Football League players and executives. Teams will be required to attempt 2-point conversions from the 2-yard line rather than kick extra points. Vince McMahon apparently would disagree, as he recently announced plans to resurrect the XFL, a failed experiment in football that folded in 2001. "We're looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores, and we think we will find them". Troy Polamalu will oversee the players, and former players like Justin Tuck, Hines Ward and Jaren Allen will be involved.
The eight teams will be decided on and released over the course of the next three months.
According to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily, the league is tweaking some traditional football rules - including the elimination of kickoffs. One game a week will air on CBS Sports, while others will stream on the league's app.
"As the Alliance of American Football launches next February we are excited to become the official television partner, adding more football to our robust programming line-up with a great package that includes two primetime games on CBS, as well as a full slate of regular-season spring football on CBS Sports Network", said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. Ebersol intends to stock teams with high-level college football players who didn't make the cut in the NFL.
"This [spring football] is a massive gap in the market", founder Charlie Ebersol said in a news conference.
The Alliance will eliminate kickoffs and onside kicks, replacing the latter with a fourth-and-10 play that an offense must convert if it wants to keep the ball.
"I don't think you single it out as only a development league", said Tuck, who will be the head of the board of advisers.
The league is called the Alliance of American Football and will feature eight 50-man teams playing a 10-game schedule that begins on February 9, the Saturday after next year's Super Bowl. Just like the XFL, the Alliance of American Football saw an opportunity to have a more enjoyable broadcast compared to the NFL by making the games faster and limiting commercial breaks. A 30-second play clock will be used, and there won't be any TV timeouts, aiming to play games in 2 ¹/₂ hours or less.
"The Alliance of American Football represents a fundamental shift in the way we approach professional sports", Charlie Ebersol said. "We have to be able to take advantage of the people who just stop playing fantasy when the National Football League season ends". The Alliance will provide players a comprehensive bonus system, post-football career planning as well as counseling and scholarship support for postsecondary education. But at the end of the day, we are complementary to the NFL.