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Usually, the day after the Superbowl signals the long wait until August, when football once again kicks off. Not this year, though, and the AAF are the ones to thank. The Alliance of American Football kicked off this past weekend, and other than the fact that they have the official backing and blessing of the "NFL," they might be here to stay. Here's why:
Names! Names! Names!
No matter the product, one of the first things a customer does when trying a new one is to search for things associated with the product to give it relevance. These things can range from reviews, brand association, popular culture, or simply people. Although with most products, people think of "endorsers," but with a product like "football," there is no better endorser than someone that is associated with a higher or more well known league or brand.
As pictured above, when seeking out coaches, there couldn't have been a better choice than former NFL and college coach, Steve Spurrier. "The Old Ball Coach" is just one of a few notable names in the league as Gary Danielson, a very popular college football broadcaster, also calls games for the league on the CBS broadcast. From Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, to former NFL players hoping for one more opportunity like former Dallas Cowboy TE Gavin Escobar, this league is ripe with names that many around the football world already know.
Although there were those who believed the NFL was beginning to experience a decline last year based on the ratings, the ratings for this past season were not only back to normal, but up quite a bit. Although things are still seemingly on the "up and up" for the NFL, there are quite a few fans who still find faults in America's #1 sport.
Often times, one of the first things you hear people complain about are the amount of flags thrown in any one game. Some would even go as far as to say they expect to see at least one flag per drive, maybe even two. Another issue most people seem to have with the NFL are the inordinate amount of commercials. At the end of the day, this all boils down to the "pace" of the game.
These complaints are tied in a bow by many who simply say games shouldn't regularly approach four hours long, as quite a few have over the past few years. The AAF won't be having these same issues, however, as they built rules into their game to accelerate the pace of play. The play clock in the AAF resets to 35 seconds every play, as opposed to the 40 in the NFL. Although this may seem like a small change, it really speeds things up.
There seemed to be a moderate amount of flags being thrown, which was to be expected in week 1. However, the games were still officiated pretty well. Another factor, but one that could be evolving, is the fact that they had limited to no commercials during the game. This could be a permanent thing but more of a wait and see, because one tends to believe if eyeballs really are watching, commercials are soon to follow. These things really helped to move the game along though, and that is definitely a plus for the AAF.
First and foremost, safety should always come first, and it is a good thing to try and prevent injury of all kinds. With that being said, though, people enjoy the football that they like. Along with things like pace, people have also recently criticized the NFL for becoming "softer" or more "powderpuff." Well the AAF won't seem to have that problem.
No people, it's not "Blitz 2000" out there on the field either, but the league and officials are seeming to let them play a more appreciated form of football among hardcore football fans. Take the hit above for example. This hit would not only have been flagged in the NFL, but the tackler would have definitely had a fine if not being suspended. To further that notion, one commenter on the video noted how NFL sack artist Clay Matthews would have definitely been fined for a hit like the one above, similar to a situation he's faced in reality over the past few seasons.
People actually enjoy the hits. The controlled violence orchestrated by two opposing sides of the ball, from two different teams whose sole mission on that night is to crush the opponent is a reason many are drawn to game. That's the football that most diehard fans miss.
Say what you will about this up-start league, but they have a few things going for them. Another in that list that didn't get as much attention here but is definitely worth a mention, the production value of the television broadcast was at minimum a 7/10. Not too bad, not too bad at all. That, along with the other mentioned reasons, are why the AAF might just be here to stay. Give them a try. They won't disappoint.