The Super Bowl will cap the NFL season this weekend — but professional football won't end after that.
The eight-team Alliance of American Football begins play in its inaugural season on Saturday, Feb. 9, with plenty of well-known names on the field and in positions of influence.
Also on league rosters are players known to the Peoria area, including 49 players from the Big Ten Conference and 13 from the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Former Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich is a member of the Birmingham Iron. The 5-foot-9, 204-pounder is in a backfield that also includes former NFL top-10 pick Trent Richardson and former Joliet Catholic and Michigan player Ty Isaac.
Former Western Illinois center Jacob Judd is rostered by the Arizona Hotshots, which also has a pair of ex-University of Illinois players in guard Hugh Thornton and defensive tackle Chunky Clements. Arizona owns the collegiate rights to U of I players; it recently brought in former Illini Kendrick Foster of Peoria for a tryout.
The league's head coaches are known in the world of college and pro football, including a couple with ties to the Chicago Bears. Former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary is head coach in Memphis. Former Rams coach and Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz heads the San Diego team.
Other coaches include Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake), Rick Neuheisel (Arizona), Mike Riley (San Antonio), Tim Lewis (Birmingham) and Kevin Coyle (Atlanta).
The league was founded by former NFL general manager Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol. Former NFL players Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Jared Allen and Justin Tuck also are involved in the league office.
The AAF's 10-week regular season runs through April 14 before a four-team, two-week playoff decides the league champion.