THE PINE NEEDLE
PO BOX 1510
253 OLD MAIN
PEMBROKE, NC 28372

For all website inquiries, please contact:

Alex Smith at alexfaye.smith@gmail.com

Taaliyah Carney at

tcc011@bravemail.uncp.edu

Contact the Pine Needle Office:

Phone: 910-521-6204

Email: pineneedle@uncp.edu 

AAF Accomplishes Its Main Goal Despite a Short-Lived Inaugural Season

The Alliance of American football didn’t even get to finish their slate of regular season games before they were forced to suspend all football operations. Majority owner Tom Dundon chose to shut the league down after just eight weeks into their inaugural season. As disappointing as this has been for all involved, especially co-founder Bill Polian, they were able to accomplish one of the main goals that the development league set out to accomplish.
     This league was founded on the principles of continuing to feed the hunger for football after the Superbowl, put a quality product on the field and provide a path for NFL hopefuls and former veteran players to showcase their development and talents for a chance to get into or back into the league.
     Even though they grounded before they could really take off, they permitted their players to sign with NFL teams and they are starting to get scooped up. Here’s a list of some of the players who turned their opportunity with the Alliance earned contracts with pro teams:

  • CB Keith Reaser: The Orlando Apollos corner was the first player to sign with an NFL team when he inked a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs who he had a brief stint with prior to joining the AAF. He was a fifth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers back in 2014.

  • WR Rashad Ross: The journeyman veteran wide receiver signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers after shining as the No.1 target in the offense of the Arizona Hotshots.

  • CB De’Vante Bausby: The former San Antonio Commanders cornerback agreed to one-year deal with the Denver Broncos. He was an undrafted free agent in 2015 and spent time with the Chiefs, Bears, and Eagles. Bausby recorded 17 tackles and four interceptions in eight games with the Commanders. 

  • QB Garrett Gilbert: If there was a Most Valuable Player award for the AAF, it most likely would’ve gone to Gilbert. The former reserve quarterback for the Patriots, Lions, Raiders, and Panthers was lighting up the developmental league before it was suspended. As the starter for the Orlando Apollos, he led the league in passing yards (2,152) and touchdowns (13). He only threw three interceptions and had a completion percentage of over 60 percent at the helm of the hottest offense in the Alliance. He will now back up sensational second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield in Cleveland after signing with the Browns.

  • LB Andrew Ankrah: The undrafted free agent out of James Madison University in 2017 signed with the Washington Redskins. He was one of the key members of a stout Orlando Apollos’ defense and started all eight games he appeared in. Ankrah recorded 14 total tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. 

  • CB Duke Thomas: He signed with the Minnesota Vikings after starting all eight games for the San Antonio Commanders. He logged 22 tackles, four passes deflections, and one interception. He went undrafted in 2016 and spent time with the Texans, Eagles, 49ers, Cowboys and even had a stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL. 

  • CB Jack Tocho: The Birmingham Iron defensive was a former seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 is expected to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent a year on their practice squad before a short-lived run with the Washington Redskins.

  • DE Alex Barrett: He agreed to a deal with the Oakland Raiders after posting 15 tackles and two sacks through eight games with the San Diego Fleet. He signed with Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2017 out of San Diego State and was on and off Detroit’s their practice squad.

  • DE Damontre Moore: After recording 22 total tackles, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, for pass deflections and seven sacks, he agreed to a deal with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2013 and spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks as well.  

  • WR Charles Johnson: The journeyman receiver is back in the NFL as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal after scoring five touchdowns and leading the AAF in catches (45), targets (70) and receiving yards (687).

  • DE/OLB Jayrone: He was the most productive pass rusher in the AAF with a league-leading 7.5 sacks in eight games for the San Antonio Commanders and will now take his talents to Miami after signing with Dolphins. 

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