Football expert Thomas von Borstel details the history and people behind the opening weekend of the AAF.
The brand spankin’ new Alliance of American Football looks to be a complement to fall football.
Spring is no longer a time of desperate depression and melancholy. Over three million raving lunatics got their fix this last weekend. Football is the opiate of the masses, and the Alliance of American Football is another new spring league.
Does anyone remember NFL Europe or the XFL? No one but old-timers and fanatics. The purpose of the league was a developmental setting for those players who fell just short of the 52-man roster but were too good to be confined to a practice squad. The majority of these gentlemen would fall through the cracks and slowly age along with their college girlfriends until they developed crippling CTE. As of Feb. 8, 2019, these athletes have a new opportunity!
Big money and whole lot of name recognition is riding on this. Gambling is a must: Michael Vick knows a thing or two. He’s the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Legends. MGM Resorts International is one of the AAF’s largest investors.
What does the AAF have that none of its off-brand predecessors did? An infrastructure created by veterans of the great American institution of football. Eight mostly-small market cities got AAF teams who will play a myriad of games until April 27. The NFL Network will televise 19 of those, on top of a pretty deal with CBS.
The whole thought process of the founder, Charles Ebersol, was to create a complementary league, backed by the will of Daddy NFL. Players are released to play in the league in the fall and the AAF in the spring. There won’t be kick-offs, but there will be tons of gambling.
The AAF makes it easy to bet on everything: there’s an app for that. Their application allows individuals to bet live on the next play: that’s the modern era, baby. I bet you in 20 years, we’ll have legal, professional gambling minute-by-minute on political races.
Here’s the schtick with the AAF: all the players have played in the league or been picked up at one point. Scouts have been frequenting the practices, and it’s clear the stars will be scavenged by the NFL. It’s still damn good football. The Head Ball Coach himself, Steve Spurrier, runs the Orlando Apollos.
There are eight teams: the Atlanta Legends, Orlando Apollos, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commandos and the San Diego Fleet. There is a new referee position that can overrule calls like the one that destroyed the Saints’ season. There is no extra point. But it’s a lot of free-to-watch football played by good players with decent name recognition. Trent Richardson lit up the Stallions on the opening weekend. Christian Hackenburg leads the Memphis Express. If you watch any college football, you’ll be sure to see some big names you’d almost forgotten about.
The game play is heavy on big plays, drone shots and “Good Night, Sweet Dreams” hits. It’s pure fun and a delight to my weary senses. Football season isn’t over. Give the AAF a shot.