I watched some action from the first week of Alliance of American Football play and didn’t hate it.
Forgive my initial skepticism about pro-football startup leagues. The mix of rasslin’ and football culture that was the XFL left me with tics. I’ll never unsee the sight of cameramen running behind ball carriers, on the field, or unhear the bombastic announcers.
Too, I’m a purist. Garish football uniforms instantly turn me off. After seeing them, it takes a little something to pry open my mind.
I’ll confess I like Birmingham’s Oakland Raiders-style uniforms. Atlanta’s duds are, well, purple and gold, and I’m a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan.
So there’s that.
The AAF’s football quality wasn’t NFL quality, but I didn’t expect it to be. Players are castoffs and second-chance hopefuls.
League officials have acknowledged that the AAF exists to give fans football after the Super Bowl and extra film for players trying to play their way into, or back into, the show.
That said, it wasn’t bad. Soon enough I found myself enjoying it in the relaxed sort of way I’ve always enjoyed Canadian Football League games, when I’ve found them on TV.
It’s good to see players like Birmingham’s Trent Richardson and Salt Lake’s Matt Asiata back at it. We all remember Richardson at Alabama, and I liked Asiata as a Viking.
As for the AAF’s alternative rules, I missed kickoffs. The possibility of returns and teams starting possessions anywhere on the field adds to the mystery and variety.
Rules that limit defenses to five pass rushers, and where they can line up, tilt the game toward offenses. It’s always 5-on-5, offensive line against rushers. Quarterbacks have a much easier reads.
It’s hard to see how playing in those rules helps a quarterback show he can handle wide-open NFL blitz packages.
On TV, however, it comes off as watchable football. There’s no naked attempt to make it football and something else. It’ll do.