At this time of year, we’re usually undergoing a football withdrawal in this country.
The Super Bowl is played the first Sunday of February (this year’s game was about as bad as the halftime show) and then we’re left without organized football until the preseason in August.
Luckily, America’s football addiction has new methadone clinic to hold it over until the fall with the Alliance of American Football, or The Alliance for short, #AAF for the cool kids on Twitter.
You and I probably saw the announcement of The Alliance a few months back and probably said “Another league? Oh, yeah. I’ve seen this before”.
Since the AFL-NFL merger, there have been several leagues that have come and gone.
The World Football League lasted one season in the 1970s. Donald Trump’s beef with the NFL eventually killed the USFL, which had a good thing going as a spring sports league before an anti-trust lawsuit and attempt to move to the fall. The XFL…well, you already know what happened (XFL 2.0 launches in 2020) and the United Football League had a decent run from 2009-2012.
While all those leagues failed, what could make The Alliance actually work?
Like other leagues, it’s a chance for guys who never reached the NFL, or those who fell out, to get back on the field and a place to play around with some rules.
The Alliance’s made its debut six days after the Super Bowl on CBS…and it was better than most probably expected. Heck, it beat ABC’s Saturday night NBA game in the ratings.
For one, there are rule changes.
Games move quicker with a 35 second clock, there are no kickoffs and teams must go for two points after every touchdown.
Also, during reviews, TV viewers get a first-hand look at the interaction between the replay official in the booth and head referee on the field. Something the NFL should have done years ago.
The league has former NFL players. Two that stood out for me were former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg and former Browns and Colts running back Trent Richardson.
After watching Hackenberg in Memphis’ first game, his performance didn’t do much to start his path back to the NFL any time soon. Richardson is one who could play his way to a camp invite (and so could several guys in this league).
Call me crazy, but I think this league could work.
The NFL doesn’t have a minor league system like baseball and hockey, or a developmental league like basketball. The Alliance, if it stays in place during the NFL offseason, can keep us occupied in the dead months and give NFL teams a chance to find a diamond in the rough or fill out their practice squads.
The Alliance only has eight teams, so there’s only four games a week. There’s also a TV deal to put games on CBS, CBS Sports Network, NFL Network and channels like TNT that fall under the Turner Sports banner.
The deaths of the WFL, USFL, XFL and UFL have all led up to this chance for football in the NFL offseason to finally stick after decades of shortcomings.
And no. I don’t have a favorite team…yet. But if you like deep handoffs and jet sweeps, Christian Hackenberg’s Memphis Express might be for you.