There’s a new judge in town.
The Alliance of American Football will begin the inaugural season Saturday and while teams are prepared for week one, fans, teams and players alike are looking forward to the numerous innovations the league will offer, and that starts with sky judge.
The AAF will have a ninth member of the officiating crew, called a sky judge who will be in the press box and can instantly correct “obvious and egregious” officiating errors. The sky judge will use real-time technology to correct clear errors involving player safety anytime during a game and pass interference inside of five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“If you get a helmet-to-helmet spear and it’s not called on the field, it can be picked up by the ninth official,” Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating who is a consultant to the AAF, told the Associated Press. “He has the ability to do it in real time. It doesn’t go to replay. … He can call down to the field and say, ‘Hey, spearing on No. 33 of Birmingham, 15-yard penalty, let’s go.’
“It’s correcting errors on the field by another member of the officiating crew without having to go to replay to do it and having a three-minute stoppage to do it.”
More on The Alliance’s addition of a sky judge here.
A new rules package and changes to some old rules will make The Alliance intriguing for fans, keep players healthy, and allow for fewer mistakes.
Here are some examples of rules to keep an eye out for:
Games will start without kickoffs as a nod to player safety. There will be a coin toss, with the winner deciding whether to receive or defer. The team that gets the ball will send out its offense to start from its 25.
The AAF’s play clock will be 35 seconds, which is five seconds shorter than the NFL’s.
There are no television timeouts during games and fewer commercials to reduce overall game time to roughly 150 minutes instead of 180 minutes in the NFL.
Overtime will allow both teams to have the ball once, first-and-goal from the 10. Teams have to score a touchdown and go for two points while field goals are not allowed. Games can end in a tie after the overtime period.
More on The Alliance’s rules here.
Onside kicks are not a part of The Alliance and instead “onside conversions” will be a new addition. If a team is trailing by 17 points or more inside of five minutes remaining in a game, they must convert a fourth-and-12 from their 28 in order to keep the ball.
More on The Alliance’s onside conversions here.
On defense, no more than five players may rush on passing plays. No defensive player may rush from a position of more than two yards outside the widest offensive lineman and more than five yards from the line of scrimmage. The exceptions would be play-action or run-pass option plays and if the ball leaves the tackle box.
There will be a 15-yard penalty for “illegal defense.”
More on The Alliance’s new defensive rules here.