Do hear that? It’s the sound of soccer or something airing (or is the proper word steaming, these days?) on NBC. I think golf may be on CBS. As for ABC? Maybe bowling.
Anyway, I don’t have much fondness for any of those sports (well, I love to bowl, but I don’t love to watch others do it), but at least I don’t have to pretend that I do.
When it comes to those spring startup professional football leagues, however, that’s another story. At least it was the past two NFL offseasons when the AAF (2019) and XFL (2020) tried hard to lure our eyeballs toward their ambitious alternatives to the National Football League.
People were so intrigued by the AAF (Alliance of American Football) that Simon Chester, the former deputy editor of Behind the Steel Curtain, appeared as a guest on KDKA’s drive-time radio show one morning to discuss it. Why they chose Simon, the guy from England, and not me, the guy from Pittsburgh, is beyond me (although, things like this article may have had something to do with it).
Anyway, the league’s debut on CBS two Februarys ago drew rather impressive ratings—2.9 million viewers, to be exact. Unfortunately, the AAF’s ratings appeared to be more out of curiosity than anything else, and the numbers soon began to decline.
Not long after its debut, the AAF folded thanks, in part, to Carolina Hurricanes’s owner Tom Dundon becoming the majority investor of the league and trying to flex his muscles with the NFL and NFLPA.
Last offseason, the XFL, the brainchild of WWE owner Vince McMahon, debuted as a reimagined version of its original incarnation two decades earlier. In other words, it was going to be real football with no wrestling shenanigans thrown into the mix.
That’s right, no “He Hate Me.”
The XFL somehow managed to strike television deals with both Fox and ABC, and when the league debuted last February, its weekend of games averaged 3.12 million viewers.
Not bad for a startup league WITHOUT Jesse “The Body” Ventura doing color commentary and WITH former Steelers backup quarterback Landry “Worst Quarterback Ever” Jones as perhaps its most known commodity.
As expected, the ratings began to drop in subsequent weeks. Not long after that, the pandemic hit and, what do you know, the XFL folded...again.
I admit I have been a bit preoccupied with career issues this offseason, but unless my last job was located under a rock, I don’t think I missed the debut of a third startup professional football league.
I am so glad.
Now, I won’t have to read articles titled: “Why I’m planning on watching the SFL (Smashmouth Football League) and why you should too.” And what about those articles about SFL players to watch? Yuck!
Thankfully for the starving football fans out there, the NFL offers a 24/7/365 menu for them to binge on from the time the Lombardi trophy is raised until the time the next Lombardi trophy is raised.
Speaking of which—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—I’ll take 10,000 mock drafts over any offseason startup professional football league any day of the offseason.
That’s right, I said it.