clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Alliance of American Football: bringing football back to the masses after six long days without it

Just six days after the 2018 NFL season came to a close, the Alliance of American Football league debuted on CBS. How can we miss football if there’s always football?

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images

When I first began mourning the end of the 2018 NFL season that was put to bed by the Patriots 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII on February 3, there was no way in heck I thought Steelers fans would soon find a football fix that didn’t involve mock drafts, the upcoming free agency period, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell or a continued preoccupation with “FireTomlin!”

However, Friday morning, my mom (or mum in both Pittsburgh and England-speak) called to inform me that BTSC writer and Great Britain native Simon Chester was on the KDKA Morning Show to talk about the Alliance of American Football Fan Guide he had recently published.

When I first heard about that, the first thing I thought was, “Wow, why didn’t Larry Richert ever have me on to discuss one of my annual Super Bowl Roasts? "

After I got over that disappointment, the next thing I thought was, “Really?” I couldn’t believe there was an actual buzz for the newly-created AAF, a sort of developmental league founded by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol and headed by former NFL general manager Bill Polian.

Later that day, my cousin texted me about the league, and that’s when I realized the buzz was real. But was it real enough to sustain the excitement all the way through until the start of the 2019 NFL season (or, at least the start of the NFL Draft)?

As for me, personally, was this something I wanted to care about? I was intrigued by some of the rules Simon listed in his fan guide, such as no kickoffs and no extra points, which tells me the disdain for the foot part of football is growing—we may be about five years away from having to come up with another name for the sport (seriously, without kickers and punters, calling it football would be like calling the Bee Gees the Bee Gees once Barry Gibb retires). I actually laughed at the very strict overtime rules which include just one possession from the 10-yard line for each team (if there’s one thing sports fans want more of, it’s ties). I did take an initial liking to the idea of forcing a team to convert a fourth and 12 in lieu of an onside kick. Then I thought about how that would translate to the NFL, and unless it was a fourth and 40, in most cases, it would be like Tony Romo putting a golf ball into the giant hole in that one commercial.

Now equipped with at least some understanding of the AAF, I decided I was going to try and watch the league’s debut on CBS on Saturday night. Unfortunately, I got about halfway through the pre-game show before I decided I didn’t want to watch the actual game. There was nothing in particular that forced me to change the channel. It’s just that, well, I kind of want to miss football for a few months. I believe half the fun of enjoying something is not having it around for a while. It’s like what Barry Manilow told his good friend Suzanne Somers regarding the dwindling audience for her ongoing Las Vegas show, “How can you give them a chance to miss you if you never go away?”

I mean, aren’t you always going on and on about the over-saturation of the sport of football? Don’t you continuously complain about the length of games, the numerous commercials and about how the NFL practically force-feeds you match-ups on Thursday nights? Aren’t you someone who is ready to throw fists at the mere suggestion of expanding an NFL regular season to 18 games?

How can you be so frustrated by all things football, yet excited about more football—just six days after football ended?

I do like the fact that the AAF will give many fringe players—particularly quarterbacks—a chance to develop their skills and perhaps get noticed by the NFL. I also like that so many areas without NFL teams—including Arizona (Cardinals humor, Ar Ar)—will get a chance to see a level of football that’s at least slightly greater than college (well, except for Alabama where the quality of college football is better than 75 percent of the AFC East).

I may try and find some AAF highlights online. I may take in some action if a game is on at some bar I happen to be at. I may even get excited about the prospect of Zach Mettenberger of the Memphis Express finally developing into the next Ben Roethlisberger. But I don’t see myself going out of my way to watch this new football league.

When I was 12 years old, I was watching a baseball game, when a player tried to dive into the stands to catch a foul ball. The announcer joked that he didn’t get both feet in bounds, thus the catch didn’t count. When I heard that, I got that warm and fuzzy feeling because I knew football was right around the corner. That was 35 years ago, and just about every summer since then, something happens or is said that makes that warm and fuzzy feeling return.

I want to continue to have that feeling every year, and I may not if I forget how to miss football.

Sorry, AAF.