The A11 Football League will begin its first regular season in 20 months.
Those who have been following the league to date know that league offenses will have both “regular” National Football League-type plays and A11-type plays where as many as all 11 players on offense can have eligible-receiver jersey numbers. We've previously described some of the athletes that would fit in the A11FL, but let's get another perspective -- the Canadian Football League.
While the A11FL won’t feature any of the key rules changes in the CFL, such as a bigger and wider field, 12 players on the field for each side and three downs instead of four, the types of athletes who will play in both leagues will be similar.
“Our rule changes fundamentally address player specialization and returns the game to versatile athletes at every position,” said A11FL co-founder Steve Humphries. “This major difference will mean players worthy of being called athletes filling every spot on an A11FL team roster.”
Let's start with the quarterbacks. In the CFL, quarterbacks almost exclusively run plays from the shotgun; and fans will see the same from most A11FL plays. While modern American football in both college and the NFL has moved significantly to the use of the shotgun, the difference in the CFL and A11FL over the NFL is the higher percentage of designed rollouts. This means quarterbacks in both the CFL and A11FL must be far more mobile.
Also a CFL team’s outside linebacker or middle linebacker quite often used to be an American-football defensive back. The reason for this is two-fold – 1) there are three downs instead of four, so passing is more prevalent, and linebackers who can cover on both first and second down are paramount; and 2) CFL running backs mostly are proficient pass receivers, meaning there is a need for linebackers who can cover them effectively. This same level of athleticism on the part of linebackers will also be necessary in the A11FL.
One striking position difference between the CFL and the A11FL is the linemen. CFL offensive linemen, for the most part, are 290 pounds and larger, but A11FL “restricted linemen” could be anyone from a 320-pound tackle to a 180-pound scatback, depending on the play call and formation. CFL defensive linemen are lighter than in the NFL, with defensive ends being as light as 215 pounds. A11FL defensive linemen will be lighter as well, given that they will face a more diverse formation of offensive personnel on any given play.
So the key areas of athleticism and mobility prevalent in the CFL will be necessary characteristics of all players in the A11FL. The end result will be a more wide-open and dynamic style of play.