What Is the Alliance Of American Football?
Imagine football with no offseason. Imagine a place where your favorite players can have second chances. Imagine an opportunity for inexperienced football players to have legitimate football experience. This is exactly what the Alliance of American Football is. You guys might have heard of something called the "Alliance" or the "AAF" on ESPN or NFL Network lately. This is a brand new professional spring football league for players, looking for an opportunity to be a professional football player. The type of experience varies throughout the league; it can be former NFL veterans looking for a second chance such as Brandon Oliver or Nick Novak, it could be talented college players who struggled adjusting to the NFL speed such as Bishop Sankey or Aaron Murray, or maybe it's for players who've had success in the NFL but had difficulties off the field like Will Hill or Trent Richardson. The Alliance is filled with NFL talent and is being considered as a feeder league for the NFL. The Alliance is a place where players can grow their skills and develop their abilities. This past weekend, the first week of the Alliance aired on CBS and NFL Network. It not only showed great ratings, but has also offered these players a new platform to show off their talents and abilities for the world. If we look at all of the college football players who make it to the NFL, we are looking at fewer than 3 percent. Now with the AAF, we can have talented players get proper coaching, second chances, and their name out in to the world. The Alliance is filled with opportunity and redemption.
I want to go back to 2013, that was the first year I started taking NFL scouting very seriously. I was just 10 years old and reached out to one of my favorite players entering the draft through instagram. His name was Quinton Patton. I remember putting him in all of my mock drafts and posting pictures of him on my social media. Quinton was one of the first NFL players to ever respond to me and I fell in love with his game. I thought he was amazing off the line and ran his routes with precision and technique. Patton was drafted to the 49ers but never truly broke out. I knew he had talent and deserved to be on an NFL roster. Due to injuries and constant change on the coaching staff, Quinton wasn't able to have his breakout season and found himself lost in free agency. Last week, Quinton Patton became the first AAF receiver to reach 100 yards. He is a perfect example of why talent doesn't just "go away". Patton is very capable of being a high level NFL wide receiver, but just needs a chance. Patton is getting his redemption and is proving that with an opportunity, he can be an X-factor. The Alliance is giving "game experience" to players who can be very successful in the NFL and Patton is a prime example of this.
I want to go back to when I was in 8th grade, there was this football player named Tony Holly who was scoring more than 3 touchdowns a week for my future high school. Since my high school wasn't in a high division and we didn't have a coach who would help his players get recruited; he didn't get any division 1 college interest and ended up going to a smaller school. I'm fully aware that Tony was more than capable of being a D-1 football player, he just never got his opportunity. Now with the Alliance, these smaller school players can become professionals and develop into high level players. The Alliance is all about offering chances, so now these small school players with a ton of talent will get their shot at being a professional football player.
The AAF is also filled with experienced coaches. A lot of the time, talented players don't get utilized due to difficulties at the head coach position. We see it all the time in the NFL; look at the difference of how Baker Mayfield was being used under Hue Jackson compared to Freddie Kitchens. The difference is significant, and this shows how good coaching can affect how well a certain player performs. Sometimes a player can even play poorly under a great coach and he just doesn't match the system. Either way, each player gets a fresh start under a new head coach. While the AAF is a gateway for players to get into the NFL, it's also a chance for coaches to make a comeback. We see coaches like Mike Martz and Steve Spurrier who have tons of experience and can teach both unexperienced players and coaches what it's like as a professional as well as getting them use to NFL speed. The Alliance is a great opportunity for players to get coached up, and the coaches to show that they "still got it".
The Alliance also has come up with new rules to both prevent two of the biggest problems in the NFL, injuries and missed calls. The biggest change that the AAF did to prevent injuries was taking out kickoffs. The NFL has done research and has found that a high percentage of injuries come during kickoffs and the AAF is completely avoiding that issue. The Alliance has also installed the "sky judge". This is an additional referee who is watching the game in live speed. They are the similar to a regular fan watching the game on TV. The sky judge helps prevent blown calls similar to the ones we saw in the playoffs this year. The Alliance is innovative and may end up being a model for the future of the NFL.
The easiest way to describe the AAF is that it's a professional football league that was made to help NFL talent develop and grow their skill set. I expect more than 15% of these alliance football players to be in NFL camps this offseason and for this league to be a feeder for the NFL. Sometimes all people need is an opportunity and that's what the Alliance is giving them. If it's a second chance, a fresh start, or a first opportunity; the AAF is a platform for professional football players to play the game they love.