Emerald Specter 111: Are You Ready For Some Football?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t really follow anything except college sports, then you can’t possibly know that we are about to be inundated with American football… like, a lot of it.

The undisputed king of professional American Football is the NFL. They have 32 teams, 16 games per team per season, a well watched playoff system, and the most watched sporting event annually (i.e. the Super Bowl). Fans are so diehard for the NFL that they also watch the annual NFL Draft (where new players are selected from the college ranks), the NFL Scouting Combine (where said college players show off their skills), and even the NFL Schedule Announcement (where they literally just tell us the upcoming schedule for the year).

I also watch the NFL and am a fan of both the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks (I was originally just a Falcons fan but moving to the Pacific Northwest, I also joined the Seahawks fandom).

A lot of the fans who watch the NFL also follow college football (I do not follow second tier sports, and because the college players are all trying to get into the NFL, college football is by definition second tier), so there is already a monster sized addition to the already monster sized NFL.

But that isn’t the only football coming to us in the next few years.

Announced some time ago, the Alliance of American Football will begin playing games in February of this year and will provide hungry football lovers with a chance to watch more football. This is an eight team league that isn’t looking to compete with the NFL, simply add on to the existing structure and maybe, if at some point they want to, become some sort of farm league for the NFL.

I’ve already chosen the team I want to follow for the AAF, specifically the San Diego Fleet (for it’s Naval and nautical themes). I’m interested in seeing how the league does and whether or not it’s got the hutzpah to stay around for long enough to catch the attention of casual fans. The league will be running on CBS (I don’t know if this is mainstream CBS or an app).

But that isn’t even the only other league coming!

Way back in 2001, Vince McMahon launched the XFL as a “more extreme version of American football.” The concept was a decent one but the actual results were lackluster. Presentation was a little hokey, attendance at events dropped off as the season went on, and some of the rules were dangerous, to say the least. The league was built, ran, and folded in the span of two years and though word was out that there was an attempted revival in the mid-2000s, nothing popped up.

Why am I talking about the XFL? Because the XFL is reborn as a brand new league.

All previous eight teams were scrapped in favor of building something a little more stable. The XFL has a new website, they have some new goals, and Vince McMahon is only tangentially involved in the process. Though some of the hokey rules are still around, I think this version of the XFL has an actual shot at being something that lasts… except we already have the AAF.

Apparently Vince McMahon announced that the XFL would be reborn in this new fashion a while ago and I only recently heard about it. The AAF responded by making sure they would launch a full year before the XFL in order to directly compete with the XFL. Yes, both leagues will be running at the same time of the year.

Though all this wonderful football is coming at us hard and heavy, we are still probably going to see one of the two new leagues (AAF or XFL) fold in competition and the other might remain around to see if it’s possible to survive as a “Spring version of American football.” As long as they aren’t competing with the NFL, I think one of these leagues has a chance.

Competing with the NFL is the reason other leagues went out of business in the past.

I’m excited to see what is possible with these new leagues, and I’ll be watching them both for at least one season. The AAF seems to be more aligned with working with the NFL while the XFL just doesn’t want to prevent anyone from going wherever they want (due to contracting only yearly and allowing players to join any league they want).

Time will tell.