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Will Birmingham play in the Arena Football Developmental league?

October 13, 2019
     Photograph
  The AF3 will use GameBreaker-PRO
soft-shell helmets.
   
A new indoor football league named the Arena Football Developmental, or AF3, plans to begin play in April 2021. Birmingham is named one of the inaugural target cities.

Other proposed markets include two Georgia teams, Dalton and Rome, and possibly two teams based in Chattanooga. Negotiations are in motion with other southeastern cities including Montgomery, Nashville, and Knoxville.

The league was founded on June 15, 2019 in Birmingham by Mike Zak, Sr., who intends to build the developmental league targeting players who may not have advanced beyond high school play, or athletes who may have gone on to college but whose careers ended after their college days were over. I would call them hometown heroes who are maybe looking for an opportunity to advance to the next level.

The league will own 55% of each franchise and Zak is looking for local investors who will own the other portion of the franchise, as well as local sponsors.

Zak believes that a one percent share of ownership would cost approximately $3,500.

The AF3 wants to keep travel costs low to help franchises make a profit. Zak hopes the longest trip in the AF3 would be a couple of hours by bus.

The league's unique spin on the game of football will be their use of soft-shell helmets instead of the traditional hard-shell helmets. In using the soft-shell helmets, the AF3 hopes to reduce Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy among its players. CTE is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas.

While this will certainly change the way players block and tackle, the league has additional rules to emphasize player safety:
  • All tackles must be thigh high or above.
  • No horse collar tackles.
  • All tacklers must attempt to wrap up.
  • Tacklers are not allowed to throw a shoulder or elbow to try and knock opposing players down.
  • No head hunting.
  • No clotheslining.
  • If an attempt is made to tackle a player by the head or neck, the tackler will be suspended for two quarters and a 15-yard penalty will be enforced.
  • No piling on if a player is down. Doing so will result in ejection.
  • If progress is stopped and play has been ruled dead by the referee, anyone touching the ball carrier will receive a late hit penalty.
  • No leg whipping or tripping.
The league will hold a combine for prospective players once franchises are locked down.

November 7, 2019
     Birmingham Vulcans logo
   
The league announces six inaugural franchises. Two of them, the East Ridge Reapers and the Tennessee Oilers, will call the city of Chattanooga their home. Two franchises will be based in Georgia, the Rome Rage and the Georgia Blaze. The Florida Firecats do not have a home city at this point. The Birmingham Vulcans will play in Bill Harris Arena.

November 8, 2019
The league announces two additional franchises. The Delta River Sharks will be based in Louisiana or Mississippi and the Waterford Warthogs will be a travel team.

November 16, 2019
The AF3 releases a logo for the Birmingham Vulcans.



January 3, 2020
     AF3 logo
   
The AF3 announces a secondary logo.

May 2020
At some point, the league begins to refer to itself as "Alternative Football 3".

June 30, 2020
The AF3 issues a press release saying its inaugural season has been postponed due to concerns and restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic:
 
After consulting with medical professionals, government officials, and arena personnel throughout the league, it is unlikely that conditions will be feasible to begin the season on time.

Furthermore, with social distancing guidelines expected to continue through the end of the calendar year, the player combines scheduled for late fall are going to be next to impossible to administer.

The league will announce specific dates for the player combines and the new game schedule as guidelines for mass gatherings are updated. Host arenas have been more than cooperative in adjusting their schedules and we could not be more appreciative of their support and encouragement.

The league has a flexible plan moving forward which will allow us to adjust; however, we will be diligent in our due process to assure that we are putting the best interest and health of our players, all team personnel, and fans ahead of any motivation - no matter how great that motivation is - to launch a football league in the middle of a national health crisis.
 
League CEO and Founder, Mike Zak, Sr., added, "There has been a lot of time spent over the last 18 months, making sure that AF3 would launch on solid ground. It was a painful decision to have to delay the fruits of a lot of hard work by many people, but it was not a difficult decision when you look at the data and talk to the professionals. These tough decisions have been made with long term sustainability of the league in mind."
 
 
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Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: June 30, 2020