Football fans, now that the Super Bowl has ended, it’s time for your yearly offseason debates: Who will go where, who will sign with whom and for how much? That is what always has happened for every year since free agency came to the NFL in March of 1993.
This year, a whole new era of football begins, with the Alliance of American Football, or the AAF for short. Unlike the NFL which holds 32 teams, in this fresh and exciting league, which began on Saturday, Feb 9., only holds eight teams. These teams consist of cities who have been starving for football, such as the San Diego Fleet, who just recently lost the formerly San Diego Chargers of the NFL to the Los Angeles market, and the San Antonio Commanders, who within the first two weeks of the AAF’s season, set an AAF record for attendance in the Alamodome with 29,176 people according to team reporter Cole Thompson. While those two teams were well known in their debuts on CBS that Saturday, there are six other teams within the league that intend to catch the NFL’s eye.
They consist of the Arizona Hotshots, the Salt Lake Stallions, the Memphis Express, the Birmingham Iron, the Atlanta Legends and the team who has been on fire for these past two weeks, as well as my personal favorite, the Orlando Apollos. Each team listed here has consisted of many unfamiliar and familiar names from the NFL and collegiate level alike who are looking for another chance in the big leagues, or to just play football and live their dreams. Some of these include recent Eagles cornerback De’vante Bausby, who now lines up for the San Antonio Commanders, and Trent Richardson, former running back for the Cleveland Browns, now in the backfield for the Iron of Birmingham.
Besides the names and teams, what really stands out about the AAF is the different sets of rules. For example, unlike the NFL, the AAF does not have kickoffs. Instead, each team starts at their respective 25-yard line. Not only is that different, but there are no extra points (only two point conversions), both teams are allowed to have the ball once in overtime, as well as the inclusion of a “sky judge”, who can call uncalled penalties and can tell the referees to reverse a bad call. By having such rules, the AAF is more complementary compared to the NFL, not leading to controversial endings like the one in this year’s NFC Championship game in New Orleans.
With how lackluster the Super Bowl was, and how long the current offseason can be, I think the AAF will not only be good for football players, but most importantly for the fans who just love the game of football. No longer will there be any sad Sundays during the early months of Spring. Instead, there will be two football games each Saturday and Sunday on CBS and NFL Network, ready to just bring the fun and greatness of the game back to TVs. By having football on televisions this time of year, the players will only gain more exposure to audiences across the nation, which will help further their careers to possibly get back into the NFL or to just become stars in the AAF. No matter what, this league may be new, but to all of you football fans out there just reading free agency stories in boredom, give this league a shot. It’ll definitely be worth it.
Jeffrey Babcock is a second-year student majoring in Communications. JB884128@wcupa.edu