By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
Reports came out that the AAF is in serious jeopardy of folding after this season because the NFL does not currently allow players to play in the Alliance.
Tom Dundon, the majority owner, said recently if the NFL Player’s Association does not allow NFL players to play in the Alliance, it appears the league will close after this season. If this happens, it will be not only a travesty to the players and executives who make this league great, but also make the NFL seem even worse of a league than it is already.
Football needs the Alliance, and the NFL needs the Alliance.
Right now, the Alliance consists of former NFL players looking to return and players looking to reach the NFL. Some of the biggest names in football, such as quarterback Johnny Manziel and running back Trent Richardson, have blossomed in the Alliance and resurrected their careers.
For many others, such as quarterbacks Garrett Gilbert and Luis Perez, this could be their only chance at the NFL. Many others look to get NFL tryouts or contracts this offseason. Closing the AAF would prevent players from developing into NFL caliber players, ending the dreams of hundreds of athletes who worked their entire lives for that chance. They have sacrificed it all for a shot at making the NFL, so closing the league after one season seems like it was all for nothing.
The Alliance has done everything right, from the early development of the league, to the product we see on the field. None of these players have accusations of PED or sexual assault, unlike the NFL, where a new case seems to open every day.
These players love football and want the chance to play. Fans want to watch football in the offseason, so it’s a match made in heaven. In Manziel’s debut, over 250,000 fans tuned in to see him play again. The AAF has introduced some rules, such as no kickoffs and five man blitzes, to benefit player safety, and they have been well received by all involved.
These rules aren’t drastic and don’t affect the game as much as you would expect. One rule, that the Denver Broncos proposed should be in the NFL, is, instead of onside kicks, a team has a 4th and 15 play where, if they convert, they keep the ball. This adds excitement to the game and makes the decision riskier and entertaining to watch.
The Alliance also emphasizes protecting the quarterback, allowing the most important position the security and safety to develop and grow as much as possible. They have also put teams in markets without NFL teams such as Birmingham, Alabama and San Diego, California. Fans across America love football, so to put teams in smaller markets, instead of New York or Los Angeles, helps to create a tighter bond between the team and fans.
The NFL has had controversy after controversy for the past five years and don’t appear to be disappearing soon. From the catch rule and controversial no-calls in key moments, to the National Anthem debate and domestic violence, it seems the NFL can’t avoid drama if they tried to. They are also the only major sports league in America with no official developmental league.
The NBA has the G-League, Major League Baseball has the minor leagues and the NHL has the AHL, but the most popular sport in America has none. The Alliance is the perfect league to send players who either aren’t ready for the NFL or are injured and need some game experience before returning. There is a lot of talent not in the NFL, so why not find a way to keep them under the NFL umbrella and keep the attention of fans during the offseason?
If the Alliance closes because the NFL decides to be stingy, I will be outraged. The NFL’s monopoly prevents it from doing what’s best for football and for evolving the game. Instead of capitalizing on a great opportunity to finally have a developmental league, the NFL is so money focused that the game we all love doesn’t matter.
The NFL may be a business, but in order to succeed, your consumers need to be happy and this is yet another reason not to be happy. I hope the Alliance can stick around, because, with the XFL coming next year, I believe the future of football is heading in the right direction, with or without the NFL.