The NFL has been around for just under 100 years. Fans of the NFL are diehard and loyal to their teams. Many have tried to compete, but none have been successful. The NFL season begins in the fall and runs until early February, finishing with the Super Bowl. There has always been a void where no football takes place. Spring football has been something fans want but are hesitant to embrace at the same time, with good reason.
Many leagues have come and gone in the past. With the failures of the USFL, XFL, and UFL, it is not hard to see why fans of the NFL would be leery to embrace a new league. Fans do not want to invest time, energy, and especially money in something that may or may not be around in a few years.
Enter a new league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF). The AAF is different than past spring football leagues. It’s not a direct NFL competitor. The AAF season begins right after the Super Bowl and ends at the end of April. This league is meant to be a developmental league for players who just need a second chance to make an NFL squad.
The rules in the AAF are a little different. They focus on player safety and packing in more football action by not wasting time on things like the play clock and halftime. The problem with a shiny new league like the AAF is that some NFL fans may feel alienated when fans of the AAF start comparing the two leagues and making the AAF seem better.
There are a few reasons that the NFL may not look as good as the AAF. The NFL is no stranger to controversy. Many of its players have been in trouble with the law. An example of this is Michael Vick, who was selected first overall in the 2001 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. A few years later in 2007, he was indicted on federal charges for allegedly participating in dog fighting. He eventually plead guilty and spent time in prison.
There are also countless cases of alleged domestic violence. One recent example of this is a video released by TMZ of former Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman outside his hotel room. The Chiefs have since released him, and he recently signed with the Cleveland Browns.
The Colin Kaepernick Scandal
As most people are aware by now, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, started a movement in 2016 by refusing to stand during the National Anthem at a pre-season game. He continued to do this in protest of racial inequality until he became a free agent and remained unsigned in the offseason. He later filed a grievance stating that the NFL and its owners colluded to keep him out of the league. In early 2019 he withdrew his grievance and reached a confidential settlement with the NFL.
TV Package Problems
One big problem for NFL fans is that if you like a team that is not local to you, sometimes the games are not available on your TV package unless you get a premium package like DirecTV Sunday Ticket. Local sports bars and restaurants often carry these packages, but a lot of times people like to watch the games from the comfort of their own homes. The AAF games are all available to watch on several cable networks, on the Alliance app, and Bleacher Report Live. As long as you have a cable package that carries the TV stations or internet connection, you can watch all the games for every team.
The NFL has been around for a long time and many of the players are well-known. The AAF is new and a lot of the players are unknown because they were previously on practice squads or backups to the starters. The same issues could be going on with AAF players, but it’s not worldwide news. The AAF is in the honeymoon phase. As the years go on the shine will wear off and issues will arise.
In my opinion, the NFL probably will adopt some of the rule changes that the AAF has unveiled in its inaugural season. The one most likely to be adopted by the NFL is the live challenge review. The NFL has had several penalties and calls that fans did not understand. The live review allows the fans to get some insight on what the officials are seeing and why they are making the calls they are making.
Is All This Alienating NFL Fans?
In my opinion, it’s not. Fans of the NFL are diehards for their teams. They are not going to stop loving their teams and only support the AAF. The AAF is only helping the NFL be better than it already is. An example of this is the AAF forcing 2-point conversions, which is a struggle in the NFL. Since players must attempt them after every touchdown, when these players make an NFL team they will be a real asset, having a ton of experience doing them both in games and at practices.
People are also human and are going to make mistakes. At the moment, NFL players are more in the spotlight now, but as the AAF builds steam, the same could be said for those players as well.
Written by: Lindsey Underwood