By Stan Bush
WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – There have been a couple of cringe-worthy attempts to rival the National Football League, but a new league seems to be branding itself as a compliment to the NFL instead.
The Alliance of American Football is organized with the help of several retired NFL greats, and it’s resurrecting the hopes for some players who may have given up on their dreams.
Alex Kelley thought his football dreams were over just a few weeks after they were realized.
“I got the opportunity to go to the minicamp and at that point it was yes or no, and it was no for me,” said Kelley.
Kelley was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent last season, but was cut before the first preseason game. In college, he was the starting center for the University of Colorado from 2014 to 2016 and led the Buffs to their best season in more than a decade, including an appearance in the PAC-12 Championship Game.
He’s now a special education teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, but after class Kelley is still training in the weight room like he’ll play on Sundays.
“I keep trying to stay in shape and be big and strong and fast because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Kelley.
That next opportunity could come after the next Super Bowl.
On Tuesday, the AAF announced its inaugural season for 2019 and its partnership with CBS. If the league makes it to its first games it could give new life to the dreams of hundreds of players who had given up on professional football.
“If it does get announced, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll seek into that any way I can,” Kelley said.
The AAF league is branding itself as a compliment to the NFL instead of a competitor. Initial reports indicate the league would promote progressive policies on player expression, concussion safety and the fan experience.
Earlier this year, wrestling mogul Vince McMahon announced he would relaunch his alternative XFL in 2020, directly stating that players would be banned from expressions like protesting the national anthem. The original XFL considered the modern NFL, a league whose tolerance for unaddressed violence left generations of players with life-changing traumatic brain injuries, as being too soft.