The Alliance of American Football, AAF, is set to kick off this Saturday night and the new league will have a few familiar faces that New York Jets fans might recognize.
The NFL season may be over but the newly formed Alliance of American Football, AAF, is set to kick off its inaugural season this coming Saturday night, February 9th. The league has generated quite a bit of buzz and will give fans wanting more football a chance to continue watching the sport they love.
It will also give players looking to receive another shot at the NFL, or in some cases just a shot at all, an opportunity to showcase their talents in actual in-game action. As such, there will likely be quite a few recognizable names for avid followers of the NFL.
Former notable players such as Trent Richardson, Denard Robinson, and Zach Mettenberger will all take the field in just a few days for the first time to prove that they deserve another chance in the big leagues. For New York Jets fans, there are also quite a few former members of the team who will be competing in the league.
Perhaps this list could be used to help select a favorite team to follow or simply as a stroll down memory lane. Regardless, here is every single player/coach currently on an AAF roster that is a former member of the Jets.
Eastern Conference Notables
Michael Vick (Offensive Coordinator) – Atlanta Legends
Vick is one of the most notable names to be involved with the AAF, albeit not in an active competitor role. The former NFL quarterback will be returning to the city where his professional career started to serve as the official offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Legends.
This isn’t Vick’s first run on a coaching staff as the former Atlanta Falcon served as a coaching intern under Andy Reid during the Kansas City Chiefs 2017 training camp. This came just a month or so after he had participated in the newly formed American Flag Football League.
Vick’s time with the Jets was short-lived playing in 10 games during the 2014 season and starting just three. Expect the Legends to be a heavy bandwagon team with the noteworthy, hometown hero Vick running the offense.
Matt Simms (Quarterback) – Atlanta Legends
Vick will be coaching an Atlanta offense that will have another former NFL quarterback on it. Former Jets signal-caller Matt Simms is one of three quarterbacks on the Legends roster and enters the league with prior professional experience.
Simms played with the Jets from 2012-2014 appearing in just four games during his time with the team. Many feel that Simms wasn’t given a fair shake with the Jets as he never actually received an NFL start despite the various struggles of first-year quarterback Geno Smith.
Unfortunately, Simms will enter the season as the backup to former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray so the Tennessee product will have to fight to earn a starting spot once again.
Christian Hackenberg (Quarterback) – Memphis Express
With the positivity surrounding the Jets quarterback room now in 2019, it’s hard to believe that we’re under a year removed from Christian Hackenberg being on the team’s roster. In fact, not even nine months ago, Hackenberg was still a member of the New York Jets and a year ago, some even believed he still had a future on the team.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The former Penn State standout is now a member of the Memphis Express after being released from three different teams since his departure from the Jets. Incredibly, Hackenberg is expected to start Week 1, although nothing official has been announced, over former Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The Express take on the Birmingham Iron on Sunday the 10th at 4:00 pm ET if Jets fans are interested in watching Hackenberg’s first official non-preseason game since college.
Next: Western Conference Notables
Western Conference Notables
Dexter McDougle (Cornerback) – Arizona Hotshots
There was a time when McDougle was considered a potential starting cornerback of the future and was in the Jets plans, both short-term and long-term. Various injuries and inconsistent play later and McDougle now finds himself as a member of the Arizona Hotshots trying to earn a spot back in the NFL.
The Maryland product entered the league back in 2014 as a third-round pick and 1/12th of the infamous “Idzik 12.” A torn ACL cost him his entire rookie season but he rebounded strongly and played 14 games in his first real professional season.
Unfortunately, McDougle was never able to elevate above a special teams role and was finally traded in August of 2017 to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for safety Terrence Brooks. Here’s to hoping McDougle can stay healthy and turn his career around in the AAF.
Nick Folk (Kicker) – Arizona Hotshots
It’s absolutely crazy how some kickers can go from being considered one of the best at their position to out of the league in a blink of an eye. We’ve seen it in the past with players like Billy Cundiff and Blair Walsh who just seemingly lose it overnight.
The latest victim of the kicking disease is former New York Jets placekicker Nick Folk.
Folk put together a relatively solid career in Dallas with the Cowboys before falling apart in his third season. Luckily, the Arizona product was able to rebound and perform well with the Jets spending a total of seven years altogether with the franchise.
The team opted to move on from Folk following a 2016 season in which he made 87% of his kicks. This turned out to be the right move as Folk would play just four more games in the NFL after being released/put on the injured reserve by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a dreadful collection of games.
Folk will look to turn his career around in the AAF and with plenty of NFL experience under his belt, teams will likely be keeping an eye on him to see if he could return to his previous Pro Bowl-caliber form.
LaMont Jordan (Running Backs Coach) – San Diego Fleet
Vick isn’t the only former Jets player coaching in the AAF. Former running back LaMont Jordan will be taking his first coaching job since retiring from the NFL in 2009. He will serve an apropos role with the San Diego Fleet as the team’s running backs coach.
Jordan spent nine years in the league first starting his career as a second-round pick of the Jets back in 2001. He lasted four years as Hall of Famer Curtis Martin‘s backup serving as the powerful alternative to Martin’s bell-cow abilities.
It’s great to see Jordan back in the game even if it’s serving as an assistant coach for an AAF franchise. Perhaps he could parlay this position into a future NFL coaching career if he so desires.
Next: Eastern Conference Others
Eastern Conference Others
The Eastern Conference is chock full of former New York Jets, both players and coaches alike. Players like Dylan Donahue, Charles Johnson, and Jalin Marshall were on the team as recently as this past offseason/preseason while players such as Zac Stacy and Anthony Johnson had short stints with the Jets a couple years back.
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Marshall and Donahue are probably the most significant each seeing sizable playing time during the 2016 and 2017 seasons respectively.
The Memphis Express clearly dipped into the former Jets coaching pool with four former Jets coaches holding positions on the staff. The most notable of which is Dennis Thurman who served on the Jets coaching staff for seven years from 2008-2014 first as the defensive backs coach before being promoted to the defensive coordinator.
This list included players that spent time with the team in any fashion including those who may have just been on training camp or preseason rosters. Essentially, if they signed a contract with the Jets at any point then they are eligible and were included.
Dylan Donahue (OLB) – Atlanta Legends
Jeff Luc (OLB) – Atlanta Legends
Quinton Patton (WR) – Birmingham Iron
Braedon Bowman (TE) – Birmingham Iron
Nick Novak (K) – Birmingham Iron
Zac Stacy (RB) – Memphis Express
Damore’ea Stringfellow (WR) – Memphis Express
Anthony Johnson (DE) – Memphis Express
Frankie Hammond (WR) – Orlando Apollos
Charles Johnson (WR) – Orlando Apollos
Jalin Marshall (WR) – Orlando Apollos
Drew Ferris (LS) – Orlando Apollos
Ted Cottrell (LB Coach) – Birmingham Iron
Ray Hamilton (DL Coach) – Birmingham Iron
Dennis Thurman (DC) – Memphis Express
Pepper Johnson (LB Coach) – Memphis Express
David Lee (QB Coach) – Memphis Express
Steve Marshall (OL Coach) – Memphis Express
Donnie Abraham (DB Coach) – Orlando Apollos
Next: Western Conference Others
Western Conference Others
While the Western Conference doesn’t have as many former Jets players and coaches on their rosters, there’s still a handful of others to talk about, aside from the three notables previously mentioned.
The majority of the former Jets players are linebackers who all spent time on the team’s active roster in one way or another. The most notable listed is Utah product Trevor Reilly who spent two seasons on the team after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Outside linebacker Obum Gwacham of the Arizona Hotshots was a Jet as recently as this past preseason as was kicker Taylor Bertolet of the Salt Lake Stallions.
Another player that played with the Jets in the 2018 preseason is quarterback John Wolford who saw action in the team’s last preseason game. He will back up former Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight in Arizona. Lastly, longtime NFL tight end will be coaching with the San Diego Fleet as the team’s tight ends coach. He joins LaMont Jordan as a former Jet during the early 2000s coaching on the Fleet’s staff.
Much like the Eastern Conference, this list includes players who spent time on the Jets roster in any fashion, be it main roster, preseason, etc.
John Wolford (QB) – Arizona Hotshots
Obum Gwacham (OLB) – Arizona Hotshots
Edmond Robinson (LB) – Arizona Hotshots
Trevor Reilly (OLB) – Salt Lake Stallions
Taylor Bertolet (K) – Salt Lake Stallions
Deion Barnes (OLB) – San Antonio Commanders
Nick Rose (K) – San Antonio Commanders
Kendall James (CB) – San Diego Fleet
Donnie Henderson (DC) – Salt Lake Stallions
Bill Bradley (DB Coach) – San Antonio Commanders
Anthony Becht (TE Coach) – San Diego Fleet