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The AFFL brings new technology to the football field

The American Flag Football League (AFFL) brought the remaining eight teams of the US Open of Football (USOF) to Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta on July 7-8, along with some new technology debuting for the sport of football.

This is an NFL-backed league with players from all walks of life and former professional athletes going "all in" for a chance at $1 million. The winners coming out of the Atlanta games, advance to the America’s Bracket Final and Pro Bracket Final on July 14 at Indianapolis’s Butler Bowl, and then the $1 million Ultimate Final (featuring both bracket champions) on July 19 at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. The NFL Network has been covering the games with the help of some new tech.

What you might have noticed on NFL Network:

Use of SkyCam as the primary play-by-play angle (prior to NBC Sports’ decision to do so for several games during the 20017 NFL season), RF cameras inside the huddle, and SMT virtual graphics and augmented-reality elements on display.

There are mainly eight cameras: the SkyCam system, two traditional 25-yard-line angles for isos, a mid-level end-zone angle, one handheld high-speed camera, a jib on a cart roving the sidelines, and two RF cameras (Steadicam and a MōVI).

“Football fans are passionate about having continuous access to entertaining football content all year round,” said Mark Quenzel, NFL Senior VP of Programming and Production. “AFFL games on NFL Network will give viewers a chance to experience a new kind of football competition in the summer months, and we’re excited for the opportunity to deliver more live programming that fans enjoy.”

What you might have noticed if your were at the games:

7 on 7 wide open football. There is no blocking; instead, a “Go Clock” indicates when the defense can rush the QB (after two seconds) and when the QB must release the ball or cross the line of scrimmage (four seconds). LED lights on the quarterback's belt, alert players of this rule. How wide open is AFFL action? There is no blocking and the field is divided into four 25-yard boxes, where first downs are awarded as teams reach the next box. Big plays are encouraged and rewarded as touchdowns over 50 yards earn seven points and under 50 yards get six. Teams can lateral once, per play.

The AFFL has a "light up" physical first-down marker used on the field, so that it digitally displays the down, play clock, game clock, and possession arrow. The system also emits an audible alert when the rusher can break the line of scrimmage after two seconds and when the quarterback has to throw the ball after four seconds.

The players have no choice, but they are adapting to these rules.

"I'm enjoying the process," said quarterback of the victorious Godspeed team and a 10-year NFL veteran, Seneca Wallace. "This is something, but it is something we are familiar with, we are getting used to it."

The USOF, a multimillion-dollar single-elimination tournament, began with 132 teams back in March and only four pro teams and four amateur teams will still be alive. Coming out of this weekend, just two teams will remain to play next week for a shot at playing NFL pros in Houston on July 19 in the winner-take-all $1,000,000 Ultimate Final on NFL Network.

More AFFL action from Indy this coming weekend. I expect even better play as the teams work towards the championship and $1 million.

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