Hines Ward

New Team in Town: Meet the Orlando Apollos

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Have you noticed that there have been spring football games on TV this year? Our desire to see gridiron action all year round is finally coming true thanks to the brand new AAF, and we are in a prime spot to witness this new league with nearby Orlando getting one of the eight inaugural franchises.  

If you are a football lover that is looking for a team to root for this spring, the Orlando Apollos are interested in giving you that opportunity. And it looks like they are going to end up being pretty good, so we will have lots to root for here at the Tiki Bar.

What is the AAF? 

The AAF is the American Alliance of Football, and it was founded by television producer Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian. Former players Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, and Justin Tuck are also heavily involved in the new league, which officially kicked off on February 9 of this year.  

While it was initially conceived as a competitor to the NFL, much like the XFL positioned itself, the AAF has since evolved to see itself as a minor league for the NFL. There have already been discussions about the NFL loaning out some of its younger players to the AAF in hopes of developing them faster.  

Do I Know Any Apollos? 

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The brand new AAF wanted to make a big splash when they announced that the Orlando Apollos would be their first franchise, and they did that in April of 2018 by unveiling that Florida legend Steve Spurrier would be their first head coach.  

That's right, the "old ball coach" is back in business.  

In addition to Spurrier, football fans will certainly recognize names like Bob Sanders, Donnie Abraham, and Lito Sheppard coaching on the defensive side of the ball.  

When it comes to the players in the huddle for the Apollos, quarterback Garett Gilbert has been lighting up the scoreboard throwing to his favorite target, Charles Johnson. And then there is the running back tandem of D'Ernest Johnson and De'Veon Smith churning up yardage on the ground.  

Are They Any Good? 

With only one loss in their first six games, the Orlando Apollos are already the class of the AAF. That means that they are well on their way to making an appearance in the four-team playoff set to happen this April.  

The Apollos offense has proven to be the best in the league thus far, and the defense is currently ranked as the second-best unit in terms of yards allowed.  

When Can I See Them? 

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The Apollos are scheduled to host their final two games of the inaugural season at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 13. The April 6 contest will be against the San Diego Fleet, then the April 13 regular season finally will take place against the second place Birmingham Iron.  

Following the regular season, there will be a four-team playoff starting on Sunday, April 21 and concluding with a championship game on Sunday, April 27. And unless something goes terribly wrong in the next four weeks, Coach Spurrier should have his team in the hunt for the first ever AAF title.  

Not only are we blessed to have a new football team competing right down the road in Orlando, we are also fortunate that the team is playing extremely well to start the season. If you are looking for a fun weekend activity to keep you busy over the next few weeks, start following the Apollos and get excited about the AAF!