If you were watching Saturday night as the Alliance of America Football made its debut, you no doubt saw some things that would work at the NFL level. If you didn’t catch one of the prime-time games offered up on its inaugural night, let’s go over a couple of things.
First and foremost, kickoffs. If you happened to catch the pregame show featured on BucsReport between Mr. Tony Rossi and yours truly, you already knew this was a point of debate. Although yours truly does agree with Mr. Rossi that the very term “kickoff” is associated with the start of every NFL game, I must admit, placing the ball at the 25-yard line to start each drive, avoiding the chances of a holding or illegal blocking call on every kickoff, played very well with me. The flow of the game was neither interrupted nor lacking.
Another rule that seemed so obvious yet has not been addressed at the NFL level is the extra point after touchdown. We have moved the usually automatic extra point back to the fifteen-yard line, making the extra point, in effect, a thirty-three-yard field goal, but the AAF rule of automatically making it a two-point conversion was very palatable. The place kicker was still available for the needed field goal attempts, but making the one (1) point conversion obsolete seemed almost natural.
Another difference between the NFL and the AAF that seemed as natural as it was obvious was the listening in on the coaches and quarterbacks while the offensive calls were made. Look, like everybody else out there, I love seeing Sean McVey hiding his mouth like he is calling in the secret recipe for Colonel Sanders chicken on every call. But really, to be able to know that the next call is a 35-run—meaning the 3 back runs through the 5 hole—doesn’t feel like somebody just gave me the secret recipe for Coca-Cola but allows me ponder for a moment if the run call will work and allow the offense to move the ball three (3) yards and pick up the first down. This was really entertaining.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the instant replay. Now every football fan including yours truly has known for some time now that we could make these calls based solely on the video evidence we see during any given call on any given play. The AAF gets us inside with the official replay, hearing how they watch it, how they reason out their call, how they watch, re-watch, and search for the correct answer on any given split-second call on the field. This felt like something we should have had all along. This is surely something that will transfer to the big leagues as soon as it becomes obvious that this is something that we as fans expect given our superior vantage point and excellent deduction skills.
There were other aspects of the AAF experience that could possibly find their way up to the NFL level at some point. But one thing is obvious. If the AAF is to operate in some type of subservient capacity to its older sibling, the NFL, that doesn’t mean that there can’t be breakthroughs, innovations, or technologies that won’t scale up as well as they play at the AAF level.