The Alliance of American Football league, a new pro football league, kicks off its first-ever season on Saturday with two games. One of which will be played by Gardner’s new team, the San Diego Fleet.
“I’m itching to get back on the field,” Gardner told Turlock’s Ceres Courier. “It definitely was a long process. My hard work is paying off now. The end goal is to get to the NFL. That’s what this league was made for. But I’m focused on this week.”
Don’t tell Ja’Quan Gardner he’s too short to be a goal-line back. He’s been a touchdown machine in short-yardage drills with the @aaffleet. He’s not short on confidence, either. https://t.co/sEAl0graHD pic.twitter.com/WBy6zVtOJK— Jeff Goldberg (@jeffgo33) January 25, 2019
ESPN reports that AAF players will receive non-guaranteed, three-year, $250,000 contracts and health insurance. Players who remain in the league for at least a year will also reportedly receive stipends to further their educations.
Gardner’s first game will take place at 5 p.m. against the the San Antonio Commanders. The game will be broadcast live on CBS in select markets, and can be live-streamed for free on the AAF app.
The Outpost reached out to the AAF and Gardner to find out if he will start in Saturday’s inaugural matchup, but hasn’t immediately heard back. According to the team’s website, Gardner will be wearing good old 32, the same number he wore at HSU.
The AAF also consists of six other teams: the Arizona Hotshots, the Atlanta Legends, the Birmingham Iron, the Memphis Express, the Orlando Apollos and the Salt Lake Stallions.
While the AAF is strategically scheduled to begin a week after the Super Bowl to avoid competing with the NFL, the new league is expected to compete directly with the rebirth of Vince McMahon’s XFL next year.