What is so exciting about the new Alliance of American Football league (AAF) is no team will bring any history to the league. Each team is starting from scratch. Choosing which one to follow should be easy to decide. It’s going to be the colours, the players or the location that will attract UK fans to a team.
The league is due to kick off the weekend after Super Bowl LIII and 99Yards will attempt to help you make your choice of which team to follow. 99Yards will bring you the background to each team starting alphabetically with the Arizona Hotshots.
We will look at the team and the coaching staff who will play a huge part in the success or failure of each franchise.
Each team will have 52 players on their rosters. These will be players who never made it in the NFL or have never even played in the NFL. Their dreams will be coming true because they will be making it into the pro ranks.
ARIZONA HOTSHOTS PAY TRIBUTE TO FIREFIGHTERS
The AAF press release for the Hotshots notes the Arizona team will pay service to firefighters.
“The Hotshots will pay tribute to the elite, highly-trained teams of firefighters organised by the United States Forest Service and other federal, state and county agencies that bravely battle the most serious wildland fires around the country.
The Hotshots will have a profound appreciation for fearlessness, skill and honour and will selflessly play together as a team each week.
The team’s colours are inspired by the uniforms worn by most hotshot crews — forest green, orange and golden yellow. The crossed axes are depicted as “pulaskis,” a cutting and digging tool used by these heroic men and women.”
SUN DEVIL STADIUM – HOME TO THE HOTSHOTS
The Hotshots will be playing in Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe. It’s a stadium that doesn’t hold good memories for me as I was there for Super Bowl XXX when my team lost.
For one Hotshots player though it was a football oasis that he’ll always look back upon favourably.
Former Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici set a school record at the stadium with 531 passing attempts in 2015. He also set a record with 510 yards and 5 touchdowns against the USC in the Coliseum.
As mentioned in our previous AAF article, players will be based near where they competed in college. Bercovici has been signed by the Hotshots and will hope to reproduce his Sun Devil success with his new team.
COACHING STAFF COMING TOGETHER
True to the league’s home team concept, the Hotshots named former Valley native and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel as their head coach. Neuheisel will bring over ten years’ experience of coaching college football to the new team.
Neuheisel also spent three years from 2005 with the Baltimore Ravens as their quarterback coach. After the Ravens 13-3 season, he was promoted to offensive coordinator.
“I’m really, really proud to represent my hometown here with this new alliance. This is homegrown stuff, and I think that’s the idea behind this league,” he said in an introductory news conference.
“We’re thrilled. Looking forward to the challenge. Unbelievable amount of work to be done, but where better than to do it right here in the Valley of the Sun?”
Former University of Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze has been hired as the Hotshots offensive coordinator. In five seasons with the Rebels, Freeze achieved a 39-25 record before resigning. He steered Ole Miss to a 4920 victory in the 2015 Sugar Bowl.