Why The AAF Will Be More Sustainable Than Its Predecessors
I grew up in the 2000’s. It was a wild and crazy time period of my life. I was exploring my love for sports as a pre-teen and figuring out what teams should hold my attention. I remember discovering that football didn’t end after the Super Bowl in 2001. It was a cold and dreary day in my hometown of Terre Haute, IN. I turned the dial on my mom’s bedroom TV (yes, we had one of THOSE televisions) to one of the four channels we picked up from the antenna and discovered the XFL (that same league that’s making a return in 2020).
I only remember watching a couple of games here and there, but what I do remember is how loud and in your face the league looked to me. When I would tune in I was looking for the big NFL names, only to be disappointed. Although Rod Smart and Tommy Maddox went on to be decent NFL players, it was hard to entertain the league when it didn’t have any star power.
This is where I believe the AAF is going to be more sustainable than any of its predecessors. When you look back at alternative football leagues like the USFL and XFL, they both lacked a balance. While the XFL had two big corporate entities backing it with NBC and WWE, they didn’t have the star power to last more than one season. Then when you look at the USFL, they DID have the star power with names like Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly, and Reggie White, but they didn’t have the leadership to last more than three seasons.
The AAF has a mixture of both leadership and star talent that can propel it forward for many years to come. The leadership arm of the AAF contains Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersole, the former being an NFL executive with the Indianapolis Colts, among other teams, for many years. You’ll also recognize many of the coaches as having a hand in creative offenses (Mike Martz and Brad Childress) and run stopping defenses (Mike Singletary).
With the leadership having experience in various forms of the NCAA and NFL, the talented players are not far behind. Trent Richardson will be looking to make a return to his Alabama glory days as he joins the Birmingham Irons. In an interview with CBS, Hines Ward, former Pittsburgh Steeler and current AAF player relations executive, said, “How do we allocate players? We take an Atlanta team and put players from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech on there.” You’ll be seeing a lot of former Florida Gators and UCF Knights for our Apollos in the inaugural season when it kicks off in February.
Star power is what makes you tune into the NFL every Sunday afternoon while big name coaches and programs are why you plop down in front of the couch every Saturday to watch college football. The AAF is taking the best of both of these leagues and using that to its advantage. When people see names like Ward, Troy Polomalu, Jared Allen, and Justin Tuck associated with the AAF in executive roles, it’s going to draw some attention (not to mention starting the season right after the Super Bowl in February). It’s amazing to see how this leadership is using its combined experience from the NFL to create a league that will be exciting to watch from the very first game. I’m ready for the season to start. It’s time for Orlando to become a great sports city and it can start with the Apollos in the AAF!