Here we go again.
Almost 18 years to the day after the XFL made its debut … we have another professional football league trying to keep its head above water. The Alliance of American Football kicked off its inaugural season last weekend.
The AAF, like the XFL, is an eight-team league that will play a 10-game season followed by the top two teams from each division playing a playoff game before a championship game takes place.
But do we really need this?
Last weekend, there were three of the four games of the opening weekend of AAF on cable TV and I turned in for probably a combined 30 minutes between all three matchups.
It was cool to see the “Ol Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier roaming the sidelines again and leading his team to a blowout win, but, overall, I just wasn’t that drawn into it.
The Memphis Express has eight former LSU players on its roster, but I didn’t even watch five snaps of their game, mainly because it’s NOT football season. That ended with the Super Bowl.
The one thing that makes football so special is that it is played during a window of fewer than half of a calendar year, and then it’s over and you have to wait for it to come back around.
How exciting would Christmas be if it took place on the 25th of every month? What if we celebrated our birthdays every day for the entirety of our birth month? What if you could take a two-week vacation every month of the year? It would make all three of them a lot less important and special because it just wouldn’t hold the same amount of meaning since they all occurred so often.
Part of the allure for football, as with most sports, is that it takes place over a specific period of time during the year, and when it’s over, then we have to sit patiently and wait for it to come back around again.
Now, don’t get me working, I think there is a place and a much-needed demand for a minor-league football organization to be established. There needs to be a minor league for professional football, but it doesn’t need to take place in late winter through the spring. It needs to follow baseball and take place at the same time as the NFL is going on.
Baseball has the perfect model. Have minor league teams in mid- to small-market areas and leave the big cities for the big clubs. If they set it up right, then each NFL team would have its own minor league team somewhere across the vast landscape of this country, and when a starting offensive tackle or defensive back goes down, the organization doesn’t have to scour the free-agent wires. They can call up their monitor league team and pull a player up to the big club.
The XFL is set to make its return in 2020 and I am not enthused at all. I am less enthused by this notion than I am of the current state of the AAF.
It’s mid-February, and what I care about as a sports fan is that college basketball is motoring along to March Madness, and college baseball gets under way this weekend.
I am looking to watch and see which 68 teams will make the Big Dance and who will cut down the nets in early April. Then I will solely switch my attention to baseball in the SEC with anticipation brewing for the College World Series.
That’s how it works.
High school football kicks off in August, followed by college and pro football in September, and the football season culminates in early February with the Super Bowl, no matter if I watch it or not. Then it’s on to the college hardwood and the diamond.
There is no need to muddy up the sports calendar with a startup pro football league this time of year. If you can’t make it a minor league for the NFL that coincides with the playing of the NFL season … then, we don’t need it.
This can be fixed, but likely it won’t. The AAF might make it a couple of years and the “new” XFL might do the same, but neither will last long term.
We have to have the break from football for six months in order to enjoy it that much more once it comes back around. Football is not a year-long sport, and if it becomes that way, it will make it as exciting as a fart in a fan factory.
Plus, I don’t need football right now. It’s college basketball’s prime time and college baseball is now under way.
The AAF is taking place during the wrong part of the calendar.
Hey, football, see you again in August.