The A11 Professional Football League is 12 months away from kicking off its first full season, bringing high-quality professional spring outdoor football back to the legions of fans who find themselves wanting more from the final play of the Super Bowl to the first whistle of National Football League training camps.
And with the A11FL’s opening kickoff just one short year away, it already has seven of its eight charter cities and brands announced, a full and accomplished leadership team in place, a two-year television contract with ESPN and continues to work behind the scenes to finalize details of its two showcase games later this year in Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas.
While there is no shortage of work to be done in all phases of preparation for the A11FL’s inaugural season – and a lot of details fans are itching to find out – history tells us that the A11FL is far ahead of the other three major spring outdoor football leagues in many phases of its rollout.
- The United States Football League kicked off with 12 teams and six games on March 6-7, 1983. The USFL, however, didn’t announce its 12 cities (of which there were two franchise shifts prior to kickoff) until May 11, 1982, and it didn’t name Chet Simmons as its first Commissioner until June 13, 1982.
- The NFL-backed World League of American Football’s first weekend of play was March 23-25, 1991. This easily was the most tenuous launch of the previous “Big Three,” given that the final league structure of 10 teams in three divisions and five countries over two continents wasn’t announced until November 14, 1990 – a little more than four months prior to kickoff. Exactly one year before kickoff, only three markets – Orlando, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama and Montreal, Quebec, Canada – had been made public.
Mike Lynn was named the WLAF’s President/CEO on October 10, 1990 – a little more than five months prior to kickoff.
- The XFL’s inaugural weekend was February 3-4, 2001. Exactly one year prior to kickoff, on February 3, 2000, professional wrestling mogul Vince McMahon unveiled his plans to launch an eight-team professional football league. The league’s President, Basil V. DeVito Jr., was involved from the outset, but the XFL’s first franchise wasn’t publicly announced until June 13, 2000 (Chicago Enforcers), and the final franchise wasn’t revealed until September 15, 2000 (San Francisco Demons).
Waiting on new information from a new sports league can be frustrating – both for those inside and outside of the league. A11FL fans can take heart in two things – that the league is working tirelessly behind the scenes to give football fans the league they want in the spring/summer months, and that this league is well ahead of previous spring leagues in many phases of the game.
Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.