Aggie Sports Talk
Alliance of American Football
So last night was the inaugural season opener of the new Alliance of American Football league and I went to see my local team, Orlando Apollos vs. Atlanta Legends held at University of Central Florida's stadium. This league is billing itself as complimentary to, not in competition with, the NFL. It's a lot of players who didn't make the cut in NFL camp or maybe played a couple years and were released. The idea is they get a stage to show their stuff and maybe get another look from the big league. Of note, the teams are all owned by the league (no Al Davis characters), and all players get the same pay ($75k/year on 3 year contract) with no penalty for jumping to NFL if the opportunity comes. Rosters have some P5, lot of G5, some FCS, and even a few D2 and CC players. Main gameplay differences -
no kickoffs - ball is placed on the 25 at beginning of half and after score
all touchdowns must go for 2 PAT, no kicking for 1
no onside kick - instead you can opt to take the ball at your own 28 in a 4th and 12 situation.
Here's my review of the game experience -
Fan Friendly Pricing - Tickets are $20/game or $75 for the season of 5 home games. This is actually similar to Aggie ticket pricing and reasonable to bring the family to. Concessions were $10 personal pizzas, $7 beers, and $29 for a t-shirt. I wouldn't call those a bargain necessarily.
Stadium Operations - Even though this was held at UCF's stadium, AAF ran the operation. A lot of rookie problems with parking and traffic that could have been solved had they just copied UCF's gameday plan that's already hammered out. Hopefully gets better with time.
Pageantry - They had the Bethune-Cookman marching band. They were fun, albeit an HBCU band is very different than what the Band-uh does. If this league sticks, they need to work out what the traditions will be, like a signature 3rd down cheer, mascot games, etc. Overall had a family-friendly vibe.
No kickoffs - I honestly didn't miss this after scores, even though I thought I would. It kept the game moving. In fact, it was televised on CBS and not once did we have the dreaded media timeout so I'm not sure where they stuck the ads in. I did kind of miss the kickoff at the beginning of the 1st/3rd quarters. It was missing that kind of emotional buildup to the start.
Each AAF team has a region of universities and 4 assigned NFL teams they have "rights" to acquire players from. Players coming out of Davis would be assigned to the San Diego Fleet. The only Aggie in the league right now is Colton Schmidt on the Birmingham Iron (assigned to Birmingham due to his most recent affiliation with Buffalo Bills). The game I saw reminded me a lot of an Aggie offense run by a Maier-esque QB. If this league survives, I wouldn't be surprised to see more Aggies end up in it. What will be interesting is how much turnover there is from year-to-year of guys getting picked off by the NFL or moving on to other endeavors.
Very interesting and a great write up. Thanks!
I watched pieces of the San Diego-San Antonio game and was pleasantly surprised. Apparently the AAF had higher TV ratings than the NBA.
Interesting. I saw a little bit of that San Diego-San Antonio game while flipping through channels but didn't pause to look at it much. If I see Colton Schmidt's team on I'll stop to take a closer look.
I tuned in to the Iron game (on CBS now) and saw Schmidt is their holder. Not sure if he's punted yet.
I watched most of the SD Fleet game last night and their QB play left a lot to be desired (they benched their starter after 3 quarters, and the next guy up threw a game-ending pick in the endzone). It would be interesting if Maier gets a look from them.
Other than that, I generally liked the quality of play. The teams seem to be at least as athletic as decent FBS pro-style teams, though they're a little rough around the edges. Production quality is also really good and the mic'd up players, coaches, and review official are nice touches. Sadly not many more games will be nationally broadcast, unless you have NFL Network.
They ran ads side-by-side with the stadium feed during team timeouts and in between some plays (I think on turnovers). If felt way more immersive than NFL and national college broadcasts for that reason alone, though reddit seems to think that the usual media timeouts will return if the league gets more sponsors.
Schmidt just dropped a beautiful punt straight down at about the 5, giving it a nice bounce for the coverage team to grab.
And like that, the wheels just fell off the wagon. Too bad to see the AAF meltdown. It was a fun league. I still think there is an appetite for minor league professional football in some markets but as we’ve seen here, maybe not financially viable on its own without an NFL tie-in.
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