Orlando gets another pro football team. Will it last this time?
Get ready for the Orlando Apollos, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, and Atlanta Legends. All part of the brand new the Alliance of American Football, which begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl with eight teams playing a 10-game spring schedule.
The Orlando team will play at Spectrum Stadium and roaming the sidelines will be none other than The Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. This is not the first time that “THBC,” has coached a summer based pro football in Florida, as a matter of fact his first real head coaching position was with the United States Football League Tampa Bay Bandits.
So, Orlando is a great football town they just seem to attract unstable; leagues. As matter of fact long time football fans in the city likely have a wardrobe of many jerseys.
This all began long before they had Disney World, in the 1960’s the Orlando Panthers played in the minor-league Continental Football League, then in 1974 came the World Football League Florida Blazers, some may also recall that for a brief time the USFL Washington team was relocated and became the Orlando Renegades.
More recently, the United Football League came to town in 2009. And the Orlando’s team, was known as the Florida Tuskers. One of team’s main investors was Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays As a matter of fact the team played two of its three home games in the Citrus Bowl, and the third in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Next up was The Orlando Rage of the XFL begun by Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Federation and by NBC, Sports President Dick Ebersol. It is Ebersol’s son Charlie who along with long time NFL executive Bill Polan who started the new league.
The Alliance, unveiled the names and logos on Thursday. The other four franchises, in Salt Lake City, San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio, will announce their names and reveal their colors next week.
Each city, plus its fans, had input into the names. Ebersol says, “We feel strongly that our team names identify with the great cities we call home to our Alliance teams and positively represent the region and our fans.”
Memphis plays in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium with Mike Singletary as coach, while Birmingham will call Legion Field home and has Tim Lewis as coach. Atlanta will play in Georgia State Stadium, the old Ted Turner Field and 1996 Olympics stadium, with Brad Childress in charge.
So let’s talk team names and uniform colors. Apollo is the Greek god of sun, thus the Orlando nickname. Their colors of navy blue, dark orange and bright orange are reflective of the Florida sunshine.
The Birmingham Iron pays tribute to steel workers of the region. Team colors of black, steel grey and brushed silver are derived from the three elements needed to make steel: iron ore, coal and flux. The logo is a stylized football.
With Memphis considered a leading center for transportation and logistics, Express seems to fit. The team will wear red, navy blue and white uniforms. Legends became the Atlanta name, the league says, in honor of such Hall of Famers as Hank Aaron and Chipper Jones, as well as leaders of the civil rights movement. They will wear purple, gold and white.
The league does have a television deal and according to Variety their broadcast partner is CBS and they also plan to stream all of the free through a league app. As part their deal CBS will air league matchups beginning with the Feb. 9, 2019, season opener and culminating with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28, with one regular-season game airing each week exclusively on CBS Sports Network. For those streamers the AAF will stream all games live via a free app, while also accessing integrated fantasy options with real prizes — for themselves and the players they root for. Charlie Ebersol also says the league will offer “family pricing” with more affordable tickets to games.
Let me say that I respect the leagues management team and they have realist expectations which is good. But we will f Orlando will be a pro football town again.