Well the AAF was fun while it lasted. All 8 weeks of it.

As of yesterday the league has suspended all football operations. The games this week will not occur. The league hasn’t folded…yet…but I don’t know how anyone can take this as a sign that things are going to get better. The AAF lasted two months and I am eternally grateful and I will miss it. Lifelong Apollo fan here, just gutted they won’t get to officially hoist the…whatever trophy. Stoked to grab those 5 dollar starter jackets on clearance soon though. Hell yeah. Might grab a Memphis Manziel Jersey cuz why the hell not.

I am legit bummed out about it. While I didn’t expect the AAF to last, I certainly hoped it would. I’ve watched at least one game every weekend since it started. It wasn’t perfect football but as an alternate spring league offering some diet cola of my favorite sport, it seemed pretty solid. There were even storylines to follow. Johnny Manziel! The absolute clusterfuck that was the Memphis Express! Steve Spurrier out of nowhere to lead the dominate team in the league! Trent Richardson! There were players that were performing well enough that we might even see them in the NFL again one day, and it was a great way to play “I remember that guy”. They had fun rule differences that for the most part made the game better. I am still flabbergasted by how much I enjoyed the skyjudge and seeing the review process happen live. If nothing else, the AAF was worth it for this play alone.

In retrospect the warning signs were there in week 1. I remember being stunned at how legit everything felt. The presentation, the games, the quality of the product…all of it was far higher than I anticipated. I expected Arena Football 2.0, and arena football is trash. The AAF looked legit. Now it looks like they poured all their money into making that first week look legit and hoping it would catch enough fire to carry it all season.

I actually think the biggest failure might have been the broadcasts themselves. Week 1 showed me something very interesting. A professional production team really makes football more watchable than it might otherwise be. Week 1 felt like I was watching the NFL. The graphics, the commentary, all of CBS’s presentation was on par with the usual NFL game. After week 1 though, the games not only got much harder to find (as they were on about 5 different places), but much less inviting on watch. The quality of production dipped and while we were watching the same level of football (honestly better, it felt like the league play improved as the weeks went on), we were watching it worse, if we could find a place to watch it at all. I knew TV was vital to the sport’s success, but the stark contrast of the AAF in week 1 to week 7 despite a higher level of play really showed how important TV is to making this sport the juggernaut it is.

Which makes me honestly kind of more hopeful for the XFL? Vince “Swole Grandpa” McMahon understands the value of presentation if nothing else. I still doubt the XFL will matter, but if it can secure a good TV contract and stay consistent in presentation, it will likely do a better job retaining viewership and potentially gain interest. I hope it does. I was so hopeful for the Alliance because an alternate league would be so refreshing.

RIP AAF. At least we finally got Christian Hackenberg starting and it was as hilarious as I always imagined it would be.