Almost four decades removed from a stint in the short-lived USFL, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian will preside over the opening weekend of the newest spring league, the Alliance of American Football.
Former NESN sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl will reprise that role for CBS Sports' coverage of the AAF.
"Take it for what it is", Erdahl said. That, combined with the rule tweaks and innovations from the AAF, will determine if fans will continue to stay interested or will become interested in this league after this initial game. Which means that onside kicks are not allowed. His first head coaching job was a three-year stint in the mid-1980s with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits.
There will be no TV timeouts and fewer full-screen commercials.
Meanwhile, before fans could get seated after cheering the first score less than two minutes the Apollos scored again this time it was a one-yard rushing score from De'Veon Smith. And games can end in a tie. The AAF will also offer secondary education scholarships and an internship program.
Watching the game, it definitely did feel like watching NFL backups play a game of football. "They saw enough good plays, especially after the first quarter".
"That was a great atmosphere", said the league's other co-founder, longtime NFL executive Bill Polian. Despite the long list of failed pro football franchises in the Alamo City, the locals ate this stuff up. Patriots fans might recall that he has a history of influencing rule changes; after Bill Belichick's defense manhandled the Indianapolis Colts' offense in 2004, Polian - then the Colts' president - prodded the National Football League until it restricted what defenders could do to receivers downfield. For those of us already in withdrawals from the lack of Pittsburgh Steelers' football, it might be a nice filler. Former players like Jared Allen and Justin Tuck are also advisors in the league.
Giveaway: The Division 2 Private Beta Access (Australia Only)
Although the main objective of the beta is to find and eliminate bugs, it also gives players a taste of what's to come. In my experience though, you'll need more than that free on your hard-drive for it to install successfully.
Five teams, the Birmingham Iron, Salt Lake Stallions, Orlando Apollos, and San Diego Fleet, and San Antonio Stallions will be hosted by a market without a professional football team. So were the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. The Iron now has seven former Steelers on their roster.
Looking forward, the AAF hopes to complement - not compete with - the NFL.
There was even the interesting twist of being able to hear the players, coaches, an instant relay official talk live on the broadcast.
"We're not competitive, we're complementary", Ebersol said.
It's never going to be the same quality as the NFL, but the early returns show fun and exciting football to help pass the time in the offseason.
The league will feature eight teams, and the games will be featured on CBS and NFL Network.