If you read this column or website, my guess is that you saw that video.
You know, the one where Shaan Washington does his best Jadeveon Clowney impersonation and absolutely levels Mike Bercovici from the Alliance of American Football's inaugural game?
Yeah, that was a thing. A spectacular hit that really showed that the coddling of quarterbacks is left only for the NFL. For fans left looking for football without the world's biggest league, the AAF definitely looked appetizing.
Ultimately, the week only had one competitive game -- the aforementioned San Diego Fleet and San Antonio Commanders. Let's be honest, take away one good quarter from Salt Lake and that game would have been as big of a blowout as the others. But hits on the quarterbacks, eight markets in growing areas for football talent and the familiarity of the outdoor game resulted in a lot of interested folks.
So when a Bill Polian pushed outdoor league with eight teams and great logos come out, it is definitely something to pay attention to. While the XFL and CFL (until their CBA is amended) is likely the biggest losers for player talent, the indoor game has taken a couple hits like Fabian Guerra.
I've talked about it in this column before about how fans can show support to their local franchises with their hard-earned cash. Keeping teams afloat means buying their merchandise and attending games. With another league like the AAF popping up in the same time of year, things are a little harder for the indoor game.
Between the struggle for stability, the push to more regionally-focused leagues and franchises popping up and going dormant, its a hard way for a fan to grow with the sport. Personally, trying to keep up on which leagues are worth following, who has reliable information and where my favorite player is ending up this season is exhausting enough for a casual fan.
What's different about the indoor game though, is pretty much everything. Walls, nets and pre-snap movement all create some compelling gameplay and the arenas make the indoor game incredibly more fan-centric. Getting fans in the door can be difficult, but the fans that are starting to be swayed by new outdoor leagues are the ones that have been burnt by the great collapse of the AFL in 2015, the lack of consistent broadcasting and multiple relocation stories.
My goal for this column is to possibly challenge the leagues to step up in sharing their history and actually celebrating it. The Kurt Warner-Jay Gruden battle in Arena Bowl X is still my favorite indoor game ever. But it may be a tough pill to swallow for the AFL to share it since the Barnstormers are now in the IFL and the Tampa Bay Storm is needing a rumored NAL envisioning a la Orlando Predators to exist.
That one may be tough, but there are plenty of amazing plays and matchups that each league can start promoting. The CIF could be the leader in this case since they have had four straight exciting championship games. Rivalries could be more established, kind of like the college experience. The Quad Cities Steamwheelers and Cedar Rapids River Kings would be the most obvious matchup for the IFL to take charge. NAL is getting a new broadcasting director and could add some innovative possibilities in their television coverage of the games. Individual franchises in all the major leagues have done great jobs connecting at schools and nonprofits to create a culture of public service as well.
Celebrating what makes indoor football great is something I think we could all use in the waning days of the offseason. Leagues are heading to camps soon if they aren't already in it and I think it is time for us to remember that those players are going to create some great moments too.
2/16/2019 06:26:22 pm
Hi, Brice. I’ve been enjoying your new feature. Arena football needs more opinion pieces to complement the numerous news outlets. After all, what does news do if no one is out there interpreting it!
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