The NFL has dominated professional Football since its inception. But things appear to be changing, the XFL and AAF specifically are getting a lot of attention as we approach the Alliance’s inaugural season.
At the very minimum we expect to be entertained with a standard of football at least on the par with the CFL and College ball.
In the short term I hope the AAF can be a consistent platform to get young, inexperienced and undrafted talent onto NFL rosters, but in the long term I hope it develops into a legitimate alternative for the professional football player.
Player Development is Crucial
The expectation is that the AAF will be a feeder league for the NFL – Whether that actually happens is a different though however. The chances are in the first 5 years or so we’re likely to see older players and those passed upon in the draft given a chance to prove themselves at a pro-level.
The player recruitment system in the AAF has allowed fans to link existing ties to the leagues
For me, seeing the likes of Chad Kelly, AJ Johnson, Lorenzo Doss, J.T Barrett, Quinton Flowers & J.J Dielman have an opportunity to showcase their abilities would only be a plus.
It will be interesting to see how many players and/or coaches are able to perform in the AAF and get a chance in the big leagues. All of the other major professional leagues in America have a “minor-league.” The NFL may have found theirs in the AAF.
I want to see players become stars in the AAF and force the front offices at the next level to look at them. The chance of these players making an impact in the NFL will also give fans another reason to watch the new league to see the next generation of ‘don’t sleep on me’ guys.
If we lose the development league tag, which in my opinion cheapens the image. I expect and hope to see games that will captivate our attention with the brilliance of their playmaking ability.
Having a constant player turnover isn’t something I’m keen on and it’s incredibly important that the league manage to keep their talent year on year to at the very minimum provide a consistent level of football.
Seeing something that resembles XFL V1.0 won’t last more than 2 years, it has to be taken seriously and treated as a competitor to the NFL not just a reserve league.
America loves football. Even if this isn’t the level of talent that fans see at the NFL level, good, competitive football will draw the attention of everyone.
Obviously, this isn’t the way most college players envisioned their pro career would go but, it is still professional football and the initial impression that at the very minimum it will receive more exposure than the CFL.
In the short term this league doesn’t have to compete with the NFL or college football. It has a monopoly on football in the winter and early spring for at least 12 months let’s see what they do with it.
Going the Distance
A lot of leagues that take on the NFL fail within the first couple of years if not months. The USFL and XFL both failed, NFL Europe – although not direct competition failed. In fact the only league that was a relative success with Arena Football and how many of you remember it fondly?
If the AAF is to survive it needs to create a enough intrigue through high level competition and differences in the rules.
So far they’ve made a good attempt to help fans find their team but there has to be something truly unique to keep the long term interest of the fans.
As fans we want to be connected to a team, we want to feel like we play a part in the winning and losing. I cannot stress the importance of making sure there is a real connection off the field with their local communities and their existing fanbase.
Football has been missing an alternative to the NFL for some time and the AAF can certainly be that in the long term.
To state the obvious, financial security is also incredibly important to stop the teams from folding within months (looking at you XFL). It’s an area another competitor league the Freedom Football League will struggle with.
The AAF cannot afford to be a gimmick but it also cannot afford to be so bland that it forces fans to turn the TV off. The fact the league will make games 30 minutes shorter on average, have fewer less adverts and does away with special teams (an area of the game the average NFL fan doesn’t care for or appreciate) should help the league to keep fan interest but at the very foundation it needs strong, competitive, pro-level football.
We all want to see the NFL succeed. The months following the Super Bowl are some of the longest and most boring for any Sports fan out there. I tend to follow the CFL out of sheer desire to see some gridiron action.
We need to enjoy watching the AAF and the AAF needs to prove it can be enjoyable. There is an opportunity here to enter a market as a feeder league but there’s also a fantastic long term opportunity to give player a credible alternative.
If the Alliance of American Football started 10, 15, 20 years ago we could be experiencing a very different football landscape. The likes of Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick could still have their talents on display whilst the likes of Brock Lesnar and Justin Gatlin could have also had opportunities – I don’t know about you but I would have loved to see Gatlin running a post and Lesnar rushing the Quarterback just to say I’ve seen it.
Whatever the fate of the Alliance of American Football may be, I know I’ll be sitting there popcorn in hand on February 9th when Orlando Apollos host the Atlanta Legends and the San Diego Fleet pay a visit to the San Antonio Commanders.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the AAF covering schedules, free downloadables, team backgrounds, key players and rule differences.