Former Valencia and Syracuse kicker Cole Murphy recently agreed to a deal to play in the new Alliance of American Football professional league.
The AAF is an eight-team league, founded by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol and former NFL general manager and Hall-of-Famer Bill Polian, that will begin its inaugural season on Feb. 9, 2019, one week after the NFL season concludes with the 2019 Super Bowl.
Murphy will be suiting up for Alliance San Diego, which will be coached by Mike Martz, the offensive coordinator behind the 1999 Super Bowl-winning St. Louis Rams team nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
Dave Boller, who was the Syracuse football recruiting director and in charge of player personnel for one season while Murphy was with the Orange, was announced as San Diego’s general manager. Murphy’s former college teammate Jonathan Thomas also agreed to a deal with Alliance San Diego.
“I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait to get started,” Murphy said. “There’s a couple guys in the organization that I know. Jonathan Thomas, linebacker from Syracuse. It’ll be good to have a least one teammate there from college.”
There are proximity clauses for the eight teams in the AAF, meaning each team can only sign players whom most recently played within a certain distance of their respective cities.
However, according to Murphy, schools in the northeast such as Syracuse are what’s known as unallocated schools. This means that players from schools that are too far from the eight AAF cities can sign with any team.
This prompted Boller to reach out to his former kicker at Syracuse to see if he had any interest in signing with San Diego.
“It’s kind of funny, I was online looking at the website to go to their combine,” Murphy said. “I was online going to register and he [Boller] called me. He said, ‘I wanted to let you know I took this new job in San Diego,’ and he asked if I had signed any contracts.”
The AAF will differ from the NFL on several different levels, mainly on the business side, but also in the rulebook.
All teams will be owned and operated by the league, making the AAF a single entity. There will also be no television timeouts and fewer commercials in an effort to limit the actual game time to 150 minutes.
As far as the rules are concerned, there will be no kickoffs in the AAF, and no extra point attempts after touchdowns. Instead, teams will be required to go for 2-point conversions. There will also be no onside kicks.
While Murphy’s area of expertise is kicking, he may be required to punt for his new team as well.
“When Boller called he told me to work on punting and kicking,” Murphy said. “If I can do both, it’s more appealing to them.”
Alliance San Diego will play its home games at SDCCU Stadium, the former home of the Chargers. While the roster continues to be shaped, the team’s name remains a mystery.
Murphy did have a couple of ideas.
“I’ve thought about it a little, the Surf would be kind of cool because San Diego and the beach,” he said. “Some people thought of a play on the Chargers, like the Thunderbolts.”
Whatever the team name ends up being, Murphy is ready to hit the field and get the season going. He is thrilled to be a part of the AAF’s inaugural season, and hopes the opportunity will be a stepping stone to a future in the NFL.
“The NFL is the ultimate one, there is no other league in the U.S. that compares to it in terms of football,” he said. “But you never know, it may end up being that the NFL is the fall league and AAF is the spring league. For now, they’re starting small and working their way up.”