6 Great Things About the Alliance of American Football.
This past weekend millions of Americans watched football. Which may seem normal during the fall and late summer. This was February 9th. One week after we all watched the New England Patriots win their sixth title with Tom Brady at the helm. America was ready for something different. The Alliance of American Football gave us just that this past weekend. With eight new teams, old coaches, new coaches, different rules, and a faster paced game than college and the NFL, the AAF is here. Is the AAF here to stay?
- The Rules. Kickoffs are gone. I honestly can say after speaking with many people about this, no one seemed to care. With kickoffs gone, a team starts with the ball at the 25 and moves down the field. After a score, the opposing team simply got the ball and started their drive. All within a 40-second window. We don’t even have time to go to the bathroom or refill out plates with fresh buffalo wings. It’s actually great that the AAF is trying to keep America Healthy. Transparency in the booth review situations gives the fans a chance to know exactly what the replay official is seeing. We no longer feel trapped in a Buffalo Wild Wings Commercial. Like the NFL really does pick and choose what happens. The thought that there might be a conspiracy against some teams and for others. I don’t really believe that, but some do. The PAT? Go for two! We see some unconventional scores, but with all due respect to kickers we don’t care about your PAT. Kick field goals, that is your only job in this league. Again, we didn’t miss the PAT or the kickoff. The AAF rules and the pace of play is 1 reason to love this league after week 1. A football game in two and a half hours is glorious.
- Second Chances. While the AAF is not trying to directly compete with the NFL, they are actually partnered with the NFL Network, they are branding differently. This is a league about second chances and making something of yourself. That goes for players, coaches, officials, broadcasters, you name it. Everyone gets more football and a chance to show the world what they can do. Eighty-one percent of the players in the Alliance this year have been on an NFL roster in the last 18 months. There is TALENT. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Watch the games and you can tell. The first week of games fell a little on the sloppy side, but give each team a couple more weeks to iron out some kinks and get more familiar with each other their coaches expectations. We have legitimate, entertaining, and high scoring real genuine football.
- Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. When these two guys sat down with each other over three years ago to talk about starting another semi-pro football league. We could all see the writing on the wall. This will fail, just like the World League, the USFL, the XFL, etc. Charlie had a different approach and that was to work with the NFL and give the football fan four more months of, at the very minimum, quality football. I am quick to judge here, but it appears he may have done just that. Averaging around twenty thousand fans at each game is
good start, if that number grows, great. Charlie and Bill aren’t expecting that number to grow though, they are trying to move this league slowly into something we can enjoy for years. Slow organic growth. They won’t be out money in six months and have to fold, at least they said they won’t. I don’t access to the AAF accounting department. They said they have thought about the future, a lot. I am now thinking about the future of this league and hoping it works!
- The Coaches. Starting with old faces like Steve Spurrier, which may be one of the best press conferences a football fan could ever ask for. The “old ball coach’ is back in action and the Apollos put on an offensive display on
saturdaynight. Time will tell if the Apollos are a favorite to win the AAF championship or the Legends are just basement dwellers from the start of the league. Hearing spurrier miked up and yelling at guys in his squirrely high pitched voice made us all smile,unless of courseyou are a Georgia Bulldog fan. Three years ago on some television channel, I witnessed Rick Neuheisel playing guitar and carrying on a melody about the start of the college football season. After stints with Washington and UCLAhe was just another old college football coach. Fast forward to February 10th2019, he is the head coach of the favorites to win the league, the Arizona Hotshots. Tim Lewis,is a name we really don’t know. You might want to start. He was coaching high school football one year ago and almost out of coaching completely. Having never been a head coach with 20 years in the NFL, Tim Lewis has been begging for a chance to be the guy. Now he is the head coach of what looks like the AAF’s version of the “Steel Curtain” but its made out of Iron instead. In Lewis’s debut as a head coach the Birmingham Iron won 26-0 over the Memphis Express. The “Iron Curtain” only allowed 168 total yards in this contest. A great debut for a guy who Justin Tuck recommended to this job.
- A new Johnny Football. The one thing we are all going to ask about in a startup professional football league is the quarterback play. In a time where good QB play is hard to come by and can make some games unwatchable, quality football has to bring good QB play. Insert John Wolford. A Jacksonville, Florida native and Wake Forest product gave us the best performance of the weekend in the final game. I have known about John Wolford since high school and his athleticism is underrated and his knowledge of the game will continue to amaze all that tune into the AAF this year. Wolford completed 18 passes on 29 attempts for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns in his and the Arizona Hotshots Debut. Good enough for a 38-22 win over the Salt Lake Stallions on
sundaynight. Wolford also completed two conversions on the evening and had 23 yards on the ground, often escaping a broke down pocket to pick up a few first downs when needed. He looks like he could be a face of the league, a little undersized, didn’t get many reps with the New York Jets, and a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Just what the AAF needs.
- Sports Wagering. Whether you are a traditional sports bettor or more of a fantasy player. The AAF is going to try and give you all you can handle. From a new developed APP that has allowed you to predict the outcome of each and every play while seeing the animated players move around a field on your smartphone. Every player and the ball has a microchip attached to them. While this aspect you can only gamble money on in Nevada and New Jersey, there is a free play version of it. The only complication with this idea (because it is in real time) is it won’t cater to anyone who streams games. While constantly being a few seconds behind on streaming apps such as PS Vue or Hulu you can’t really enjoy the capabilities of the App yet. Maybe they will give a delay option at some point. Check it out if you haven’t, Itunes and Google Play store. My bookie and Bovada both have taken action on the AAF this past weekend. If the popularity continues to grow in the league, we could see the daily fantasy sites to pick up some action on this. Traditional fantasy leagues have been started at Alt Fantasy Sports, while this may be difficult due to the lack of teams in the league, only eight, I am sure a 6 team league would be fun to try. All of these give us something to do in an often dead sports season.
After Week 1, there is so much left to be desired. The AAF has made an impact early. It has to keep rolling and growing each week if it wants to pick up steam and be a league for many years to come. For now, we will rank them after one week. Time will tell after we see more games, but for now this is what we have.
Week 1 Power Rankings
- Orlando Apollos
- Arizona Hotshots
- Birmingham Iron
- San Antonio Commanders
- Salt Lake Stallions
- San Diego Fleet
- Memphis Express/Atlanta Legends
- Atlanta Legends/Memphis Express
If you enjoyed this article you can pick up more content covering the Alliance by subscribing to the ODDS ON AAF Podcast hosted by Matty Miller.