The Orlando Apollos already are moving. Sort of.
Starting in March, the AAF’s only Florida franchise will practice in Georgia, according to Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. The move results from differences in workers’ compensation laws between Florida and Georgia.
As explained by Bianchi, workers’ compensation coverage doesn’t apply to professional athletes in Florida. This requires professional sports teams to find their own insurance coverage. The AAF has yet to do that, which means that the team will be practicing in a place where the state-run workers’ compensation structure includes pro athletes.
“We really need to make sure we take the necessary steps to take care of our players,” AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol told Bianchi. “Our responsibility is always to do what we must do to make sure our players have the best available coverage.”
The move also takes care of the AAF, providing immunity from most potential lawsuits arising from workplace injuries in exchange for the no-fault coverage provided by the workers’ compensation system.
As a result, players who currently are living in a Jacksonville hotel will take a bus across the Georgia border for practices at a high school in Kingsland. The Apollo’s home games will still be played in Orlando.
It’s hardly an ideal situation for the 2-0 Apollos.
“We tried to call some big shots in Tallahassee to get it worked out, but I never could get through to the Insurance Commissioner,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’re not crazy about the set-up, but it’s all we can do. When you’re in a new league, sometimes you just have to make adjustments.”
It’s an unusual inconvenience for the team and its players, but it’s one of the realities of life in a football league that is still trying to get off the ground.