The 2018-2019 N.F.L. season ended two Sundays ago now, but has all football ended? After the N.F.L. season ended, a part of me seems to be gone. It happens every year, and I still get this sinking feeling whenever an N.F.L. season ends.
But this time, something is different. Football is still on, because the Alliance of American Football (A.A.F.) debuted this past Saturday. The A.A.F. is a professional football league that has eight teams from cities without N.F.L. teams like San Antonio and Salt Lake City. The A.A.F. season started on February 9, and will be continue until April 27.
In 2016, Charlie Ebersol decided to create a national football league. He wanted the league to be successful, and gain viewers, so he hired former N.F.L. players and many other people to grow the league and help it become successful. The A.A.F. officially began less than one week ago. Have the founders of the league, Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, saved football fans for a few months? I think so, and I have five reasons why.
First of all, it’s still football. What’s not to love? If you’re a football fan, and you love watching high-speed, high-intensity games, then the A.A.F. certainly won’t let you down. Even though there are only 8 teams, the A.A.F. is still the professional football that we know and love. The athletes are similar to N.F.L. athletes, and bring the same intensity and love for football to each game. For example, in the Orlando Apollos vs Atlanta Legends game, Orlando ran a trick play previously run in Super Bowl LII (The “Philly Special”): a touchdown pass to the quarterback.
Secondly, the games are faster paced. The play clock, instead of being 40 seconds like the N.F.L., is only 30 seconds in the A.A.F.. And the league is looking to remove commercial breaks completely. Reducing the game clock will force the game to have a quicker pace, packing the action in, and keeping the audience intrigued.
There are also a few twists in games in the A.A.F. in comparison to the N.F.L.. In the A.A.F., there are no extra points. Teams are forced to go for two-point conversions, adding more action, and making games more interesting. Overtime is also different. Unlike the N.F.L., both teams will have one chance to possess the ball overtime, as each team will have an opportunity to score from its own 10-yard line. This new type of overtime should allow for a more fair outcome to the game since the N.F.L.’s overtime is often decided by a single coin toss.
Additionally, the A.A.F. is a safer game. The league plays without the most dangerous play in football: the kickoff. As of 2018, 17 percent of injuries occurred on the kickoff, even though kickoffs are only about 6 percent of the game’s plays, according to a study conducted by new Patriots Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano. This difference will hopefully allow A.A.F. players to be healthier after their career is over.
Finally, the viewers get to listen in on the referees during a replay review. In the N.F.L., viewers don’t have the opportunity to hear what the referees are saying during a replay review. But in the A.A.F., the viewer can listen to what the referee is saying about the play, and know his or her reasoning behind a particular call. This aspect of the A.A.F. will greatly improve the viewing experience because fans will be able to understand why a referee is or is not making a certain call. And on plays where a referee makes an error, like the infamous missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship, the fans can hold officials more accountable.
The next set of A.A.F. games are this Saturday and Sunday. Watch a game for a little while, and maybe you will be football-satiated until college football and the N.F.L. returns.