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When the Alliance of American Football makes its first snap next February Mitchell Schwartz Jersey , there could be lots of familiar names playing for each of the eight teams.

Makes sense, too, because a brand new league needs as many hooks to attract fans as it can find. The Alliance is going with a geographic allocation system that takes advantage of where players attended college, or where they performed in the NFL.

For example, if former Alabama standout running back Trent Richardson opts to join the Alliance, he would be placed on Birmingham’s roster. Players who attended Arizona or Arizona State would wind up with the Phoenix franchise. Anyone who played for one of the major Florida schools would be placed with the Orlando team.

”We think this will disperse the talent in a way that will be logical,” says Bill Polian, whose work as an NFL personnel man with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis got him voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. ”We borrowed that from the USFL.”

Polian, Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol and the other league founders hope to be far more successful and have more longevity than that league, which lasted three seasons in the 1980s before folding. Unquestionably, players to fill out the 75-man rosters – other franchises will be in San Diego, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Atlanta – are available. Now Terron Armstead Jersey , the Alliance has a system for distributing them, particularly once NFL teams make their roster cuts at the beginning of September.

Basically, players from any schools in the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 power conferences will wind up with a franchise in their region. Polian says because the Alliance has no markets in Big Ten and Big 12 areas, ”we left them largely unallocated.” Players from such schools as Penn State or Kansas State likely will be apportioned based on which NFL club cut them. But the league plans to distribute four NFL teams’ cuts to each of the Alliance squads.

”In addition, we gave each team a CFL team, again based on rough geography,” Polian says. ”The West CFL teams would go to the West Alliance teams …

”When a player is cut or he is not in the NFL or CFL, the first thing is we look for a college affiliation. His rights are your property if he is affiliated with one of your colleges. If his college is not assigned, we go to his pro team. If the NFL team does not work, and he is in the CFL, we go to that. Finally, if he is completely unallocated, he can be put on rights list first-come, first-serve.”

Most smaller schools have not been allocated Jack Tatum Jersey , nor have any from the lower levels of college ball.

Should a player draw interest from an NFL club after being cut in September and allocated to an Alliance team, he would be free to return to the NFL. But not once the Alliance begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl.

”They can go at any time except from the start of our training camp to our championship game,” says Polian, whose league will play a 10-game season, with four teams making the playoffs. ”The reason we set our calendar the way we did, our season ends just as OTAs are beginning (in the NFL). They won’t miss a heck of a lot, if anything at all, and they will be in shape in late April. They can go right back to the NFL and not miss a beat.”

Or they could head back to college. The Alliance will be offering players post-secondary education assistance, as well as health and wellness benefits.

”In addition,” Polian explains ”every player completing a full (Alliance) season will receive a scholarship of a significant amount of money and we will provide counseling if they want to go back to school.”

Each player will be signed to a three-year contract with a minimum base gross salary of $250,000 over three years. But they can earn more.

”With bonuses related to skill, statistical levels and even some fan engagement,” Polian says, ”they can earn considerably more than their base minimum. We think it’s very competitive and a decent wage for basically a 10-game season.”

Now that the Alliance has established how it will distribute players and has scheduled scouting combines for August for players not in NFL camps, the next big step comes Sept. 1: cutdown day in the NFL.

”The large push will come at the cut to 53 when a great many players will come on the market Morten Andersen Jersey ,” Polian says. ”Our big challenge will be getting the right players.”





Anyone who has played with Marc-Andre Fleury can tell he’s dialed in by watching his mannerisms.

Last year, he rubbed the shaft of his stick after making a save with it on Alex Ovechkin. This year, he continued a career-long tradition of rubbing the post as a sign of appreciation for keeping a puck out.

”That’s when you know he’s in the zone,” Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta said.

Fleury is in one of the best zones of his career in the playoffs with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who have followed up a magical inaugural season with a trip to the Western Conference final. The goaltending of Fleury is the biggest reason they’ve gotten this far and is a continuation of his remarkable playoff reputation rehabilitation.

After taking the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and winning it all in 2009, Fleury lost four of the next five series he played and each postseason posted a save percentage under .900. He has since gotten his groove back, helping the Penguins win the Cup again a year ago, and now leads the NHL playoffs with a 1.53 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and four shutouts.

”I don’t think it was anything physically that he changed,” former Penguins teammate and current Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. ”It was all confidence-driven. He’s always been a guy who’s really competitive and really loose at the same time. I think it was just confidence. I think he needed a fresh start. Maybe he just needed a clean slate, and you perform better when you’re more appreciated.”

It’s impossible not to appreciate the impact ”Flower” has made in the desert as the face of a new franchise as he went 29-13-4 with a 2.24 GAA and .927 save percentage for Pacific Division-winning Vegas. The fresh start might have rejuvenated Fleury more than a decade into his career, but his bounce-back in becoming a great playoff goalie again is six years in the making.

The low point came in 2012. Fleury allowed 26 goals over six games to Philadelphia in a first-round exit. The next playoffs, backup Tomas Vokoun started more games, and it was fair to wonder if Fleury had lost it.

”You learn from losing,” Fleury said Wednesday. ”You learn from tough times and pressure and stuff like that. It made me a better goalie from it.”

Now-Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen was there for some of the struggles but didn’t level them all on Fleury. By 2014 Albert Wilson Jersey , he noticed a different goalie.

”There was a period of time there where maybe (it was) not entirely his fault, a few things went wrong and it snowballed on him and he had a tough go there, I think, mentally for a couple springs,” Niskanen said. ”But by the time of my last year there he was really good again.”

The scars of another second-round exit led to more blame for Fleury, who was scapegoated for a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin not doing more after the Cup in 2009.

”Sometimes it’s the way your team plays in front of you,” said Penguins winger Carl Hagelin, who beat Fleury with the Rangers in playoff series in 2014 and 2015. ”Sometimes, like any other player, you might have a bad series or a bad playoffs and I think for a goalie if you have that, people are going to be all over you.”

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