An unfulfilled promise of national coverage of the American Arena League All-Star game headlines numerous issues regarding the exhibition event.
The league previously announced that the AAL All-Star Classic would be broadcast on ESPN3 with Mick Moninghoff set to lead the announcing crew. The game was not on the streaming platform, and the story announcing the broadcast has been taken down by the AAL, but a post was left on the league official Facebook page. Moninghoff was reported to not be at the contest.
"I'm not going to say that I was disappointed, but I was feeling down," said Atlanta Havoc running back Zack Brown. "I was wondering 'would my family back at home still be able to watch it?'"
Brown was one of many players, fans, and staff learning about changes the day of the All-Star Classic. Others thought that there was improper action on behalf of the league.
“I just think that it was a sales tactic, and I do not think they had any intentions of airing the game on ESPN3,” said Kevin James, owner of the New England Calvary.
James said that the appeal of being seen by bigger leagues like the NFL and CFL, thanks to the ESPN3 broadcast, would be a big draw for many players hoping to get their shot. But according to James, many veteran players avoided the AAL All-Star game based on previous experiences.
“The seasoned veterans in this sport didn’t fall for that trick because they have seen that stuff before,” James said. “It’s called bait-and-switch -- you advertise one thing, and the last minute, when everyone is all committed and you can’t turn back, ‘oops we can’t do that anymore’ or ‘it changed’.”
A broadcast of the game was available on the AAL Facebook page, but is no longer available to watch. No box scores or game recaps of the AAL Stripes 34-29 victory over the Stars have been published on the league website. Game highlights can be found on YouTube.
The AAL website lists all the players named as 2018 All-Stars; both offense and defense, however, there is no mention of how the players were separated into the two teams.
Concerns about how players were selected, whether players were misrepresenting franchises by wearing other team helmets, and who would cover players' insurance requirements also arose as part of the day-of-event changes.
Brown was one of the people involved in defending the league given the circumstances.
"Some of the top players in the league had the chance to play, but since we weren't getting paid, a lot of the top players turned it down," Brown said. "So, that's why I think that (the AAL) had to scramble around and get other players that wanted to play to play."
Arena Football Talk reached out to the AAL for comment, but did not receive a response.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Aaron Castete was involved in the reporting and interviewing of this article. It was edited by Brice Burge and Jeff Simon.
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