The Alliance of American Football started play today. I caught the end of the San Antonio/San Diego game (San Antonio won); it was pretty much as billed: like watching a bunch of NFL backups play each other. That’s not bad, but it’s kinda like post-NCAA football instead of high-flying NFL football.
I was sorry I missed threat of the game as I’d have liked to see some of their rules in play, particularly the “no kickoffs” thing. In NCAA football, the fair catch is called something like 95.75% of the time (citation needed) and even when they don’t the ball rarely moves more than 5 yards upfield on the return. IMO it just makes sense to do away with an injury-prone nearly useless special team play in favor of just letting the offense get to work.
My only complaint with the league so far is that the team names and logos are terrible. Worse than clip art, even. They seem like they were going for “stalwart, grandiose sounding” names but IMO they should have taken note of what minor league hockey teams have done and gone for “interesting, possibly humorous & ludicrous” names and really cool gotta-have-a-sticker-to-put-on-something logos.
Personally, I hope they find an audience and make a go of it. I think their rule changes sound like good ideas and I like the pay structure a lot. I’d like to see them dent the NFL and initiate some change there, if nothing else.
On the other hand, Mrs. Cups and I attended the Orlando/Atlanta game and it was fun as hell. It always helps when your team beats the other by 40 points, but it was still fun.
There is a rule change on defense (presumably to protect the QB) that you can only rush 5 guys at a time. This lead to a few illegal formation penalties on defense which confused the hell out of us in the audience. The other rule change is a shorter playclock and the teams musn’t have gotten the memo because there were three or four delay of game penalties in the first quarter alone.
As far as gameplay goes, Orlando certainly looked good. Atlanta’s team got into some turmoil in the last few weeks losing both their O-coordinator and their head coach in the span of a few weeks, so they could be feeling those effects. That being said, Orlando’s D-line was stunting and confusing the hell out of Atlanta’s O-line and their QB forcing a few INTs and constant pressure.
The league is billed not as competition to the NFL, but as a sort of an advanced minor leagues. The video they played before the game literally said “we’re here to make these players look good and if they get a call from the big leagues we’ll shake their hand and wish them luck”.
We didn’t spring for season tickets because we have other random things that will prevent us from going to most of the home games, but we went to this one and we have one other to play with.
I think it’s awesome that y’all went to the opening game! That’s an opportunity, to see the start of a new sports league, that shouldn’t be passed over lightly, IMO.
I definitely don’t think the league will compete with the NFL (they don’t even play at the same time of year, for one) but I do think it can help change the NFL. The AAF offers a chance to try new rules in a setting where if things don’t work, 100s of millions of people won’t be pissed off and trillions of dollars aren’t at stake.
Whatever one thinks about the viability of the AAF, I have to say this; their rule changes were clearly made based on actual evidence, statistics, and common sense. They aren’t just random nonsense or Vince McMahon looking to get more people hurt. They actually thought this through.
The only part of the kicking game fans like at all are long field goals. Anything done to eliminate kicking is a good idea in principle, and the AAF’s getting rid of kickoffs is objectively brilliant, as well as a lot of other stuff they’ve done.
If you think about it, EVEN IN THE BIG LEAGUES, many of the best names are silly, no longer relevant to the franchise after they moved, humorous, or oddly modest:
Boston Red Sox / Chicago White Sox
Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Phillies (perennial winner of the “Least Thought Put Into A Name Award”)
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Dodgers
Green Bay Packers
Any team named after a songbird
San Diego Padres
For a long time the CFL had one team called the Rough Riders and another team called the Roughriders. Eventually, the Rough Riders died and left the field to just the Roughriders, but later that city, Ottawa, got another team, which is now called, I swear to God, the Redblacks. They are called that because their colours are red and black. Attendance has been great. Who knew?
Honestly, I think what makes a name great is just time. “Philadelphia Phillies” is an objectively preposterous name, and “Sox” and “Leafs” aren’t even words, but over time fans love the team and those names became words and images and histories of their own.
I did watch the some of the San Antonio/San Diego game and it struck me as being akin to the second half of a NFL exhibition game where the vast majority of the players on the field will not make the final roster…but, it’s the first game of a new season in a new league with slightly different rules, so sloppiness is to be expected…I like the concept of the league, i.e., a AA/AAA development league for the NFL, it’s a great laboratory for trying out new rules without sending NFL or NCAA fans into a revolt, and I really like the concept of showing the review process live…I didn’t actually see one live, but watched a replay of one from the SA/SD game…if the NFL did this, it would really demystify the process and show the difficultly of make those decisions in a very short period of time…
Didn’t look into this until this thread, but one of the new rules is pretty intriguing: “The officiating crew includes a ninth referee who sits in the booth and constantly reviews game action. The sky judge has the power to make calls or overturn penalties in case the on-field officials miss them.”
The only issue I have with this is that one could probably call holding on 90% of the plays run, and no one wants a game full of penalties. I would hope this would be used for glaring referee missed calls/miscalls such as the no-call during the NFC Championship game and overruling really bad calls rather that greatly increasing the number of penalties…
I’ll probably make a point of sitting down to watch a whole game to see how it works.
Now that Week 1 of the AAF is in the books, how do you feel about the league? Do you think it’ll succeed, or will it go the way of the original XFL?
I think the AAF has a lot of good ideas, like the sky judge and the no kickoff rule, which helps with the flow of the game. I also like how you can see and hear the process of a challenge being decided. But, the quality of play is a bit iffy, and every game I’ve watched so far has had audio problems.
The odds are the AAF will fail. All rival leagues fail. The XFL failed, the USFL failed, the CFL’s foray into the USA failed, the WLAF failed. Even arena football is an ongoing series of failures. The AFL was eaten by the NFL but that was a dramatically different situation.
It’s not the rules. The AAF’s ideas are in many cases really fantastic, but in a lot of respects CFL rules are better, too. It’s jut that people only have room in their hearts and wallets for so much of a given sport, and the perception of the AAF (or whatever previous football abbreviation you want to mention) as a minor league is impossible to overcome unless you’re willing to lose a fortune for years and years and years. Decades, even.
Hell, I’m not even sure quality of play is a big deal - people watch college football, after all, which is sub-AAF quality but has a century of tradition to keep it going and a wildly different business model. Triple-A baseball teams have attendance a fraction of major league teams despite ticket prices 75-90% lower, and the quality of play is, to most fans, indistinguishable from major league ball. Even in cities that are low-MLB size like Charlotte, Indianapolis and Austin, attendance is below 10,000 a game; were in not for their development relationship with the majors most minor league teams would die.
I really wish the AAF could serve the function the minor league serves for MLB. College is not the ideal place to prepare for the NFL; the pace is slower, linemen don’t play the same, and after your senior year you’re in the NFL or on the steeet. And it’d be nice if players could be “sent down” from the NFL to AAF and promoted from it.
IMO, that’s the AAF, or any alternate football league’s main competition. People aren’t generally watching college football for the stellar, high-level play, but rather because it’s regional in a way Texas, all the New Mexico schools and that the NFL isn’t- even in wide geographic stretches between NFL teams, there will still be college teams who locals and alumni can follow. And even in places where there are NFL teams- like say… Houston, there’s also a lot of latitude for people to follow U of H, A&M, Rice, UT, Sam Houston or even LSU.
I’d think the best thing that could happen for the AAF would be for it to become an official NFL minor league. It worked fairly well in the World League/NFL Europe days as far as player development was concerned, and I’d think that the NFL could subsidize teams in order to develop players.
Too bad all these teams are in the South and Southwest. I’d be much more interested in attending a game than watching on TV. It’s something I’d tune into for maybe a quarter, but can’t imagine I’d watch an entire game on TV. That said, I really hope this league sustains. It’s obviously not competing with the NFL, but it’s nice to have some kind of alternative.
I believe that that was an intentional choice on their part, to make sure that they were playing in cities in which they had a better-than-average chance of the weather not being particularly horrid at this time of year.
Except AAF isn’t a rival league and is, in fact, a bit of a minor league for the NFL.
The reason I suspect this league has at least the slightest chance of succeeding is because of two factors: Who started it and its intentions.
Bill Polian has a lot of pull and respect in the NFL and even the other former-players-turned-execs of Heins Ward and Jared Allen mean that REAL football people are behind this. That says a lot. I imagine that’s how the league has gotten as far as it has. They secured TV deals and deals with former coaches (Spurrier, Martz, Singletary) probably on Polian’s pedigree alone.
It’s intentions are to be a feeder system to the nfl and to give guys who couldn’t cut it another chance for REAL football. The pool of players will only grow each and every year and they have provisions in the contract for players leaving for the NFL. The old AFL and XFL (and probably even the new XFL) were created to be rivals to the NFL, AAF is not that. I’m not going to declare victory for the AAF just yet, but it has a chance.
As for the first week being done: You can tell the teams who are good from the teams who aren’t right now…but I suspect all teams will get better as the season progresses. I’m interested to see next week’s Orlando/Birmingham matchup because from what I saw out of the Apollos, their D-line is great and really good at stopping the run, and B-ham has a really good running game with Trent Richardson.
I watched a bit of last night’s game (SLC-ARI) and it looked a lot like a pre-season game. Which should be expected, I suppose given that A) a lot of these guys are the types of guys you’d see playing the bulk of a pre-season game and B) they really haven’t had time to work out a lot of their timing in actual game environments yet. It’ll probably get a bit better later in the season. I was confused about what they meant by illegal formation on the defense (WTF is that?) and the guys in the booth were no help in explaining that. Sounds like that has to do with rushing more than 5 guys. It was kind of confusing, and it seemed to get called pretty frequently in the part I saw, including once from the “sky judge”.
I may go see a game later this year down in San Antonio, it’s only about a 90 minute drive down and the tickets are pretty reasonable. They have some good seats at around $36.50. They also have seats I saw as high as $235.50, which makes me wonder who the hell would pay that much money to go see what is effectively minor league football.