Awful Alternative Football


Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to eileenploh

While the NFL dominates football at the professional level, many alternative leagues try to become the next NFL without much success (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to eileenploh).

Football is one of the most popular sports in America, but with only a few professional football leagues, many players do not get to follow their dreams and play in a professional setting. The main and best option is the well known National Football League (NFL). Besides this league, players can play in Canada or in Arena Football, but both of these hardly lead to a real professional career. There have been many attempts to establish an alternative football league that would help develop players who did not live up to NFL expectations or who just want to get some tape in a professional league. The latest attempt at creating an alternative league was the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

“I feel like it had so much value for me. NFL coaches and organizations wanted to see film, wanted to see what I can do now. It gave me film. It gave me enough to get back to where I want to be.” said former AAF receiver Rashad Ross in a report by Bryan Strickland.

Unfortunately, the AAF collapsed before their 2019 inaugural season could finish. The AAF wanted to become a developmental league that was in partnership with the NFL. The problem was that the NFL did not want them. Due to a lack of outside funding, the AAF could not continue operating, leading to their collapse.  Once the league went under, players were kicked out of team sponsored hotel rooms, and players with injuries were kicked out hospital rooms. In addition to this, the players were told that they had to pay for their flights home. Players, some injured, were left stranded, with nowhere to go and no way to get home. The AAF was officially suspended and has recently filed for bankruptcy.

“The AAF is committed to ensuring that our bankruptcy proceeds in an efficient and orderly manner. Pursuant to the bankruptcy laws, a trustee will be empowered to resolve all matters related to the AAF’s remaining assets and liabilities, including ongoing matters related to player contracts.” said the AAF in a statement later reported on NBC.

Other professional leagues can learn many things from the collapse of the Alliance of American Football. One key mistake made by the AAF is that they assumed the National Football League would accept them as a developmental league; in reality, the NFL had no desire for a partner. In fact, the NFL did not want to allow players to sign with the AAF. Another mistake the AAF made was unwise budgeting. The AAF’s collapse lost over seventy million dollars for majority owner Tom Dundon. In addition to budgeting, another mistake made by the AAF was a lack of advertising to build an audience. Many football fans were surprised by the announcement of the Alliance of American Football a few weeks before the first game. By fixing these mistakes, the AAF could have had a better chance of surviving in the professional football world.

“I woke up to over a $2500 charge pending on my account from the Sonesta hotel our team stayed in. I called the bank and Memphis team president. My only option is to dispute the charges on Monday. The same thing happened to other players on our team.” said former AAF Tight End Adrien Robinson using his Twitter account.

The AAF is not the only league to try and claim a spot on television through alternative football. Other leagues such as NFL Europe, the United States Football League, Spring Football League, the Indoor Football League, and the American Flag Football League have tried to take a piece of the football spotlight as well as many other leagues. Many football fans have never heard of these leagues, and this is because they were either failures or irrelevant. Despite these past failures, one football league is trying to differentiate itself from the NFL and start up again.

“I think that alternative leagues will not last like the new league (AAF) failed after not even one season. The NFL is too big for other pro leagues to survive. I think that other leagues could help develop players. The NFL should have a farm system like the MLB and the NHL have for player development.” said sophomore Zachary Wilmoth.

The X-treme Football League (XFL) announced that it would be restarting in 2020. The XFL is like a combination of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and football. There are a few major changes to football played in the XFL according to its website. The XFL promises faster football that will not be stalled by gimmicks. The league is taking in fan suggestions on how to improve the game of football. Then these suggestions are run by a panel of “football experts” such as Jim Cadwell, John Fox, and Doug Flutie. If they like the suggestion they will approve it and it will be seen but if not according to the website, “it’s trash.”

“I don’t follow the WWE and I sometimes watch the NFL, but I’m not too sure that the two should be combined. I just don’t think that those two ideas really fit well with each other. I think it would be a mess.” said sophomore Ethan Reid.

This is not the XFL’s first shot at professional football though. The XFL first launched in 2001 before falling apart after a single season until it was announced that it would be returning in 2020. The XFL has a small chance of surviving, but by taking fan suggestions and differentiating themselves from the NFL, these chances increase. Most of the other developmental leagues were too similar to the NFL and were beat out because the NFL was more established. The best chance of having a long-lasting alternative league is to play a different kind of football. Even though the AAF might have collapsed, fans will still have a chance to see alternative football because the verdict is still not in on how the XFL will do.