First Impressions Of The AAF

First Impressions Of The AAF

By Chris Cole

February 12, 2019

Everyone this past weekend got to see the first games of the season for the Alliance of American Football  and they have shown the people in attendance as well as in TV land that they have a viable (and survivable) football league.  The teams look great visually and the talent on the field is definitely superior to what we have seen with other less-successful ventures like the United Football League (2009-2012) and 2001’s XFL (making a comeback in 2020).

The people running the AAF have made it abundantly clear that they are not competing with the NFL and this is a development league for the NFL instead.  The Green Bay Packers even officially announced a partnership with the Salt Lake Stallions. When watching the games you should notice a handful of names that made a small impact in the NFL and want to still show they are productive players like Trevor Knight, Matt Simms, Trent Richardson, and Appalachian State alum Malachi Jones.  It is clear that these players are a cut above the college level, but aren’t quite at the level needed to be in the NFL.

The whole minor league concept resonates with me as I have been saying for years that the NFL needs a development league.  Too many players get stuck on the practice squad and basically get paid to, well, practice. I also liked watching NFL Europe as a kid even if the product on the field was inferior to their parent league and I think the strength of the AAF teams is stronger than those of NFL Europe too.  

I watched every game this past weekend which speaks volumes since I am not a football fan really.  I don’t remember watching a full NFL game this past season and that includes the Super Bowl. The AAF had everything, a blowout (Orlando Apollos 40-6 Atlanta Legends), a shutout (Birmingham Iron 26-0 Memphis Express), a defensive-minded game (San Antonio Commanders 15-6 San Diego Fleet), and an offensive-minded game (Arizona Hotshots 38-22 Salt Lake Stallions).  

The rule changes such as a 35-second play clock, no kickoffs, and two-point conversions instead of P.A.T.’s made the game faster and more intriguing to me.  A major sticking point was the lack of commercials after every change of possession. That is one thing I do not like about pro football is the amount of commercial breaks.  Knowing that they are just going to keep playing kept me in my seat to watch the game and the play on the field warranted my full attention. They also allow you to listen in to the officials when they are making a difficult call, allowing you to be in on the action.

So far, the AAF has done it’s research well and I believe in week two you will see more fans as well as higher viewership on TV for their games.  This isn’t a hokey two-bit league, it’s serious football for casual and hardcore fans alike. By first impressions alone, this league will make it to season two and give the 2020 version of the XFL some serious competition for the best off-season pro football league.