When the announcement of the Alliance American Football league was made in the spring of 2018, there were plenty of groans around the sports world. The United States Football League had its brief day in the sun, the WWE owned XFL was a joke, and the World Football League wasn’t sustainable. So, why should the AAF be any different?
A lot has changed since the NFL had its last rival league. So far, the AAF has found some success on and off the field, and the NFL has taken note. Now, questions are being asked whether or not the NFL will bring the AAF onboard as a spring feeder league.
AAF and NFL Relationship
The two football leagues have a unique relationship. It is one in which the NFL never had with any other rival league. AAF games are shown on the NFL Network giving them an outlet to the world. It also gives the NFL Network much needed content for the spring.
In addition, rumours are the NFL is interested in adapting AAF rules. AAF games do not have television timeouts and the game is faster paced. The NFL’s ratings drop over the last few years have been blamed on several issues including Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the Nation Anthem. Yet, the one thing that hasn’t been blamed is the obvious, which is NFL games take too much time to play out.
The AAF is addressing this problem. If the league can successful shave off 30 minutes or more per game as planned, then everyone should expect the NFL to jump onboard. The AAF has also instituted several rule changes that the NFL is reportedly looking into including replay challenges, reduction in play clock time, and head-injury protocol.
AAF and Technology
There is no doubt the AAF is benefiting from technology. Of course, previous rivals the XFL, WFL, and USFL couldn’t benefit from cable and Internet providers due to the technology just not being as advanced as today.
Along with the NFL Network broadcasting games, CBS, Bleacher Report Live, and TNT have all shown games. In fact, ratings for AAF games have been so impressive that TNT picked up addition games to air on the network.
Despite questions being asked about the financial backers of the league, ratings show the AAF has potential. The league’s week 1 CBS ratings of 2.9 million viewers should be taken seriously, but it may take more than people watching it at home to keep the league around for the future.
The Future of the AFF and NFL
In late February, there were reports of immediate investment being made into the league. In addition, insurance and worker’s compensation problems forced the Orlando franchise to practice in Georgia.
The AAF could be saved by NFL investment. In the league’s short existence, it has shown it could be the best development league for the NFL’s 32. In addition, it is just enough football to whet the appetite of gridiron fans until the fall.
The NBA adopted the D-League (now G-League) in 2001. Players have benefited greatly from it. Baseball, ice hockey, and soccer also have development teams and leagues. In addition, those sports are all played in other parts of the world, giving players more opportunity to get professional play time. The NFL does not have that luxury.
According to the USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, the NFL is considering loaning players to AAF teams. This would allow players to gain experience ahead of the next NFL season.
Next season, the WWE-backed XFL will return to play. The AAF will need plenty of help to ward off the XFL gaining popularity. The NFL’s backing would help immensely. Not only would the AAF have loaned NFL talent, but it would also be shown on the latter league’s network.