Alliance of American Football.

A new spring football league will launch a week after Super Bowl LIII. Check it out for yourself:

Does it have a chance to succeed?

I think so. Most professional football leagues have tried to be an alternative to the NFL or directly compete with it. The AAF doesn’t. It was founded by someone who saw a gap that he hoped to fill.

I think starting from the beginning to appeal to fantasy football players is smart. As long as that pastime remains popular, this league might have a chance.

Can it succeed? That depends entirely on what they consider “success” to be.

They have a bunch of former NFL people lined up as coaches and executives, which isn’t a bad thing. But, they acknowledge that their rosters will be made up of players who couldn’t make NFL rosters, and I think part of what killed leagues like the XFL and the UFL (which worked with the same sort of player base) was that the quality of football just wasn’t very good.

I had to dig around on that site to really find details on their plans, but I eventually found a link to this story on from March. The executive is TV director Charlie Ebersol (son of longtime NBC Sports exec Dick Ebersol).

He acknowledges that they need to play “good football” to succeed, and he states:

“There are 28,000 Division I football players. Only 1,700 have NFL jobs,” Ebersol said. “We’re looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores, and we think we will find them.” Bear in mind that while, yes, Warner made the Hall of Fame, he was one of the very small number of players from the minor professional leagues in recent decades (such as the Arena Football League and the old World League) to be good enough to make any kind of impact in the NFL.

Ebersol also states this in the article:

“Fifty-nine million people play fantasy and 20 million people play only fantasy football,” Ebersol. “We have to be able to take advantage of the people who just stop playing fantasy when the NFL season ends.”

That’s not a bad point, but I think he’s being optimistic that (a) NFL fantasy players are willing to play minor-league fantasy football, and (b) they’ll actually watch the games – one of the issues that the NFL is actually having is that a lot of fantasy football players aren’t watching NFL games. They have a partnership with CBS Sports, but if they don’t deliver ratings, quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose it.

Also, one should note that, currently, the Arena Football League is hurting badly; they’re down to five teams (one of which is inactive).

Sure, this new league **might **succeed, but I don’t think I’d be willing to invest in it.

“Let’s play football in the off-season” has been tried before (WFL in 1974-75, USFL 1983-85, XFL 2001) with no success.

Worse, seems to be admitting his football can’t compete with the NFL.

Like the NFL will be thrilled to see their players get injured playing for another league and “support” that.

Now, neither of the links cited above tell me anything about how the AAF actually differs/complements/replaces the NFL, but the bottom line is the level of real, live play, not just what kind of stats it delivers to fantasy leagues.

I highly doubt it. For the most part, college football and minor league baseball are the only two sports which have had success without being part of the big 4 of American sport.

The last thing most people want after the Super Bowl is more American football. The NBA and NHL start getting into full swing after the Super Bowl. Die hard baseball fans don’t watch the Arizona League in great numbers.

I agree – by that point, even avid football fans may be ready for a break.

In theory, there’s a dead-ish month or so in the American sports calendar after the Super Bowl. The NHL and the NBA are just starting the second halves of their long seasons, and there’s not a whole lot else going on, other than maybe the Daytona 500. And, that’s when this league plans to start its season.

But, by the end of February, baseball spring training is starting, and then you get March Madness with NCAA basketball, which sucks a lot of the oxygen out of the room for several weeks.

I didn’t watch college football for years because I was concerned about the level of play. But I’ve been watching it casually over the past couple of years as I catch it on TV and I find that it can be just as fun and exciting to watch as pro ball.

Presumably, the AAF could have an even higher level of talent than what you’d see on NCAA teams. I’m not really that concerned about watching players not as good as those in the NFL because we already have that, and it gets viewers.

I think the smart thing to do would be to not try to present it as a national level sport. They should instead pick cities where they can work on building up local support. Then when they’ve locked in a local fans after a few years, they can start working on expanding out to a national audience.

But I doubt this will happen. The people who are backing this are going to want a quick turnaround. They’re going to want to be competing with the NFL within three years. And by reaching too far and too fast, they’re going to crash.

This is also the wrong time and the wrong climate to be trying to expand anything football-related. The only way this could succeed is if they could bill themselves as being more safety-oriented than existing football, and if anyone could figure out what good safety measures were, they’d already be implementing them in the existing leagues.

They not only have former NFL personnel behind them, they have big names. Bill Polian is a co-founder. Jared Allen, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward. Those are Hall of Fame caliber names. So on recognition, they have a chance. But I would agree, it depends on how you define their success. They won’t be the NFL. They won’t be NCAA football. But they might be able to sustain. I’ve always thought an NFL feeder league could work, especially if they allow 18 year old players. There is no reason for the best of the best high school players who have zero interest in education to spend three years in college.

I don’t think the concept is that players on active NFL rosters will play for this league, but that this is a place where Johnny Manziel and Maurice Clarett can star, and the rosters will be filled by undrafted players and special teams roster cuts. Kind of like a minor league, with a complementary instead of competing schedule.

That being said, this will crash harder than the XFL. The NFL sponsored this sort of thing with the NFL Europe, and it never really got going anywhere other than in Germany near US military bases where there was a captive audience who couldn’t go to a ‘real’ football game.

The talk of playing to fantasy sports makes me think that the rules in this league are probably going to be designed towards raising the yardage/scoring, like Arena Football did.

Speaking of which, isn’t this going to conflict heavily with XFL II?

I think it has a decent chance of success. One of the reasons is that it has chosen markets that are not NFL towns (aside from Atlanta). Their initial 8 teams stem from Atlanta, Tempe (AZ), Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Diego (the last two are brilliant as San Antonio has been angling for an NFL expansion for decades and San Diego just lost their team).

It appears they are focusing on smaller cities to build up a local base of support with some decently big names as head coaches - Brad Childress, Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson, Mike Riley, and Mike Martz.

They also have a deal with CBS. And being single entity should help weather early losses better.

Some of their rules seem interesting too:

Very much so. I think one of the two leagues is super doomed to fail (coughxflcough) and the other has a fighting chance. By putting the teams in football-centric cities that either don’t have football (here in Orlando) or have the facilities for it (Atlanta) they are filling a need without trying to do too much.

Mrs. Cups and I will definitely be there. Hell, we’ll probably be there for the XFL team too.

I was going to post the same thing. The XFL is a vanity thing for McMahon and has no chance. I think the AAF has an unlikely chance, but a chance.

My concern as well. “Football in the fall”; nobody is really interested in anything else. Okay, arena football is in the summer, but it’s “arena football” - a niche sport, not considered “real” football.

Sports for gambling sake actually exists in Europe; there is a summer soccer tournament that exists for the sole reason of giving countries with “football pools” something to bet on during the summer. (England doesn’t really participate in it, as its pools use Australian soccer in the summer.)

However, depending on fantasy football players to watch is a mistake here, as you can’t really play fantasy football with “no-name” players. How do you know who to draft?

That’s an excellent point. And, while, I have no doubt that there are many fantasy sports players / sports gamblers who only play football, for the rest of them, during this timeframe, there’s basketball and hockey (particularly the NCAA basketball tournament, which dominates the sports-betting scene in March).

I thought you were going to say in this climate the leagues only two options are either start every game with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence or start every game by burning the American flag.

Which, if you saw the press conference for the XFL, is exactly what Vince is trying to do with the XFL. He’s trying to make it more football-y, while also putting a high emphasis on safety and squeaky-clean players.

I tend to agree with you that if it’s a safety concern and it exists the NFL would be using it, but the original XFL pioneered a ton of things the NFL uses now (cable cam, sideline reporters, locker room visits) that I wouldn’t be surprised if the XFL brain trust could think of an innovation or three.

WFL was so awful a team moved during the season - NYC to Charlotte