Alliance of American Football meets Milton

March 20, 2019

Traditionally, the month of February has marked the end of America’s beloved football season until next August. In 2019, that changed.

About the Alliance

This year, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) was founded by former NFL executive Bill Polian and director Charlie Ebersol. This new professional football league began on Feb. 9 and features 8 teams from Atlanta, Orlando, Birmingham, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Antonio, Memphis and Arizona (due to the season in which the season occurs, teams were strategically based in the south).

The league features multiple high-profile former coaches, such as former Florida and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and former Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel. The players include many athletes who formerly played in the NFL and are looking for second chances after either being cut by teams or getting in trouble, or guys just aiming to make a name for themselves. Some of the most recognizable names include former Alabama University running back Trent Richardson (Birmingham Iron), former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (Atlanta Legends) and former Louisiana State University quarterback Zach Mettenberger (Memphis Express).

The new league has caught fans’ eyes with flashy uniforms and a couple of interesting new rule changes. Kickoffs and extra points have been taken out of the game to speed up pace of play and prevent injuries, while overtime resembles the collegiate format and the play clock has been shortened to 30 seconds.

The season spans over ten games and will conclude with a playoff starting April 20. With each passing week, the league has seen increasing success, after an opening night where the ratings surpassed that of the Rockets-Thunder NBA matchup on ABC. The games have been widely adored by many football fans, as the new fast-paced, free-flowing style of play has put a new twist on football.

The Atlanta Legends and Milton

Atlanta hosts a team named the Atlanta Legends, who are coached by Kevin Coyle (formerly a defensive analyst at LSU) and feature Aaron Murray and Matt Simms at QB, as well as former star Michigan QB Denard Robinson at wide receiver. The team features a crown on their purple helmets along with purple jerseys and gold pants as their main uniforms. The Legends play their home games at Georgia State University’s football stadium (what was formerly Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves).

However, for practices, the Legends commute to Milton to take over the football field from 1:00-3:00 every Tuesday-Friday. They reached an agreement with Fulton County to utilize the field for a certain fee until the end of their season.

The idea of a college or pro team practicing at high school facilities is commonplace, but to have a team full of professional football players practicing while school is in session merely 300 yards away is a bit odd to some. Milton’s Athletic Director, Gary Sylvestri, explained that “all players and coaches completed the volunteer form that all volunteers on campus complete.” Sylvestri also added that “the Legends have their own security staff and that the players and coaches never mingle with students or leave the confines of the stadium and fieldhouse.”

Coach Sly also hinted at the fact that “this could a year to year possibility” for Milton to host the Legends, though nothing is set in stone as of now for the future.

While the benefits to the school can not be overlooked (publicity for Milton, honor of hosting a pro sports team, etc.) the idea of pro players practicing while school is in session is still new to many However, with how successful the AAF has turned out to be and how much the league means to a lot of people, the Milton community should be proud to host and assist the Atlanta Legends practice every week.

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