Have you been watching the AAF? Have you heard of the AAF? It is the Alliance of American Football. It is a new league, kind of a developmental league. More importantly, it is football in March. No, it is not as polished as NFL football or even Division 1 football in most cases, but it is football. It is eight football teams made up of players who either did not want to stop playing organized football or those who are trying to get to (or back to) the NFL.
You will recognize some of the players’ names like Trent Richardson, Aaron Murray, Denard Robinson, Will Hill, and Zach Mettenberger all of which were stars in college and spent at least some time in the NFL. The team rosters are tilted heavily toward the team’s geographical region so local fans will recognize the names they hear, which is a smart move for a league that will fight an uphill battle for ratings and followers. This is especially nice for fans in the Atlanta area since the Falcons seem to be opposed to drafting from the local universities.
You will also recognize many of the coaches. Steve Spurrier, Mike Singletary, Dennis Erickson and Rick Neuheisel all coach in the AAF so the league is not completely obscure. A lot of planning and effort was put into this endeavor. It most definitely is not the XFL 2.0. These are solid staffs teaching and at least attempting to implement sound fundamental football. There are a few quirky rule differences like no kick offs or extra-point kicks, but overall it is the same football you know and love. Did I mention it is March and I’m still watching live football?
Four weeks into the inaugural season, the Atlanta team, the Legends, has been a little dysfunctional. Mike Vick was dismissed as offensive coordinator right before the season started. The head coach bailed not much later. The team began the season 0-3 going with Matt Simms at quarterback instead of pulling in the local fans by starting University of Georgia star Aaron Murray. I am not suggesting that a team should play their second-best quarterback to please the fans, but when you are 0-3 and your offense is floundering horribly, you might want to take a chance and throw the fans a bone. They are Dawg fans. In week four, Simms suffered a hand injury early in the game and Murray got his chance. The offense
immediately responded by moving up and down the field only to stall in the red zone each time. In the end, the Legend won their first game and Murray’s overall performance was impressive with 254 yards passing and zero interceptions. Hopefully, the Legend will stick with Aaron moving forward.
Currently, the best (and only undefeated) team in the league is the Orlando Apollo led by the Head Ball Coach. Spurrier has his team rolling offensively and is clearly having fun drawing up ball plays as he would call them. I must admit to enjoying watching the greatest Gator of all time pull trick plays out of his visor. As a brand-new league, all of these teams are early in their learning curves and the play often displays such, but Spurrier has his team more in sync and prepared than his competition in the first season which is why he is undefeated. He will get his biggest test yet in week five.
The games are televised on Saturdays and Sundays, usually on the NFL Network or CBS Sports Network.
This week’s game between Orlando and second place Birmingham has been moved to TNT, a sign that the league is picking up fans and attention. If you are rained in with nothing to do, watch some football.
You will be pleasantly surprised. And it is football and it is March.