Delighted or disturbed, the Alliance of American football (AAF) is off and running after their inaugural debut on Saturday. It was a wise choice by AAF founder Bill Polian to launch their season the week after the Super Bowl. In fact, an entire nation outside of New England would probably like to personally thank Mr. Polian for providing a distraction from the ongoing nauseating autopsy of the Patriots winning another NFL championship.
So with a full heart and a sense of desperation – as the winter winds of Wyoming whipped around me – I turned on the pregame coverage and watched the San Diego Fleet at the San Antonio Commanders game on CBS Saturday evening. The Orlando Apollos at the Atlanta Legends was televised for a smaller audience and both provided a wild welcome to the AAF.
Bleacher Report does the best write up of both games, so click here to read about how the Commanders defense ruled the Fleet – and how the Apollos blew the doors off Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta and beat the Legends on Saturday evening.
Here are some of my twisted impressions of the NFL’s latest attempt to form an entertaining and useful developmental league:
– This league is run by a bunch of old men
But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as a member of the geriatric crowd it’s nice to see a bunch of old people launch a league using their considerable experience. With coaches like Steve Spurrier, Mike Martz, Bill Riley and others… there must be at least 500 years of combined coaching experience growing this tadpole of a football league.
-Games already flow smoother than NFL games
The AAF will be a terrific resource for analyzing how changes in rules might be implemented to improve the quality of NFL games. The Fleet at Commanders game provided some insight about what the NFL might like to do to tweak their product.
I like the shorter play clock a lot. It speeds up the game and forces players to stay on alert mode. Hopefully the result might be fewer pre-snap penalties.
You would expect any debut of a new league to have a few snafus along the way and the AAF launch was no exception. During the Commanders/Fleet game, the clock was stopped due to a penalty. When the referee asked for the proper time to be reinstated on the clock, either the clock manager was in the bathroom or they didn’t have one at all because it took waaaaay too long for the clock to be readjusted.
However, If that’s the worst you can find to laugh about, I’d say Mr. Polian’s group did more than an admirable job putting this developmental league together right from the get-go.
AAF appears to want zebra control
I also noticed – especially during the first half of the game – a few penalties were missed, but nothing super egregious. In fact, if anything I’d state that there seemed to be a reasonable effort to keep the referees from taking total control of the game, which is a welcome relief.
However, they may want to revisit how they call roughing the passer in the AAF after this play:
Imagine (as I do quite often) Tom Brady taking a hit like that.
There’s little doubt my first impression of this league is biased by several factors – not the least being locked in the current polar vortex – in search for anything to distract me from the current state of the Buffalo Sabres – and last but not least of all the on-going nausea-inducing Patriots-licking – all of this conspiring to put me in a state of abject desperation for distraction. It’s a set up for Polian’s AAF success and he knows it.
I liked what I saw from the Commanders/Fleet game. Being a gal who loves the fatties, this league may become very important for the development of NFL caliber offensive linemen. Right now the leap from the college game to the NFL is nearly insurmountable in a read-option laden NCAA.
I’ll also be keeping a close eye on who the Bills might want to poach from the AAF. Having another resource to find players with an ax to grind (yes I do love me some AZ Hotshots) can only help the Bills find players who want to play in Buffalo for a reasonable price.
We’ll see what the rest of the inaugural weekend of AAF matchups bring later today. If the games are similar to what we saw yesterday, this could be a fun league to watch.
In the meantime…
Bill Polian, you’re a genius at creating a brand. I do believe this developmental league will succeed where all else failed. Stay tuned.
Editor’s babble: We all know how Polian put together a team for the ages in Buffalo. I do believe in the end, he will enhance his legacy with his latest venture in branding the AAF. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO. Huzzah.