Just when you thought football was over after the Super Bowl, BAM! There’s more football thanks to the American Alliance of Football. I watched some of the AAF games this weekend and it was fun since it’s football, but you can easily tell that the talent isn’t compared to the NFL and most of college football.
Let’s get this straight first, the AAF is not a competitor to the NFL. The 8-team league is trying to make a pitch as a developmental league to the NFL. Just how the MLB has the minor league systems and how the NBA has the G-league. Now, this league isn’t just developing players. The AAF will also develope new ideas in the NFL.
The AAF has similar rules to the NFL, but there’s a few differences. Some of them being is no kickoffs as the ball will be spotted at the 25-yard line, there’s no extra point attempts after a touchdown as teams must go for a two-point conversion, a fourth and 12 conversion replaces the onside kick and blitz limitations as only five players can rush. The kickoff is one of the most dangerous plays in football as more injuries occur and more severe injuries occur as you have two teams running full speed right into each other. The fourth down conversion replaces the onside kick because it’s very rare to see a successful onside kick and it’s safer as not many bodies are running into each other. Lastly, five man rushing limitation makes it safer for the lineman, running back, quarterback and defensive players. The only rule not based on safety is the two-point conversion.
Now, even though the AAF is looking to make the game safer, they still allow huge hits that if it happened in the NFL, the player would receive a penalty, fine and suspension.
The AAF also added a sky judge to the game. The sky judge is a reply official who can stop the game on their own and correct any obvious errors. I love this and I feel the NFL should instantly pick up on this. A perfect scenario for this sky judge in the NFL would have been on that obvious non-call pass interference in the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Better yet, the AAF also decided to let the audience be part of the replay. The TV broadcast will show a mic’d up sky judge and will replay the play and have the official explain what he/she sees and why is that call being overturned or being kept.
The game is also faster. Alex Kirshner from SBNATION recorded the Birmingham vs. Memphis game from start to end and it was 2 hours and 29 minutes long. Way shorter than an NFL game. This might of happened due to less commercials or since there’s no kickoffs, the teams aren’t switching new units on the field as much.
The AAF debuted this weekend and it was a huge hit as they drew in 2.1 million viewers in their first two games. It might not seem like a lot of people were watching the games on CBS and the NFL Network, but on ABC there was a marquee NBA matchup between the last two MVPs with James Harden’s Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and that drew in 2 million viewers.
I’m all in on the AAF. Again, it’s not competing with the NFL as they are just developing players, rules and ideas for the game. It also gives these smaller cities like Memphis, Orlando, Birmingham and more, the game of football, so they can finally watch and experience a football atmosphere. The people want football and the AAF is giving what the people want, up until the middle of April.