San Diego

The AAF is Here … But Will it be Any Good?

New professional football league will only succeed if it has a compelling product

The Alliance of American Football officially planted one of its eight inaugural franchises in San Diego on Thursday. The AAF held a press conference at SDCCU Stadium, where the as-of-yet unnamed franchise will start its 10-game schedule in February 2019.

But will the football be any good?

“We will succeed or fail based on the quality of football we can put on the field,” said J.K. McKay, AAF Head of Football Operations. “I promise you that we have a lot of people who will be working towards putting the best possible football on this field and our other fields throughout the league.”

The AAF envisions football like we’re used to seeing in the NFL with a few tweaks in the rule book.

“Ultimately the game is going to be as close to the NFL as is possible while at the same time while at the same time developing something for the fans that we think represents a better opportunity to enjoy it,” said Charlie Ebersol, Co-Founder of the AAF. “Which is to say a shorter, faster game. We’re going to have 60 percent less commercials. We’re not going to have TV timeouts.”

The problem there is commercials and TV timeouts are the main revenue sources for organized football leagues. This league is not going to be around too long if it doesn't have a compelling product. But if the league is not paying players much money it’ll get sub-par football players which leads to sub-par football.

“While I’m not prepared to talk about exactly what their salaries are going to be, they’re going to be pretty good,” McKay said. “And it gives them an opportunity to get on tape and show what they can do.”

Although the AAF says it’s not a developmental league for the NFL, that kind of statement suggests it understands that’s likely what it will boil down to.

The AAF says all players will have the same base salary with the possibility for perks.

“Over the next couple of months we’ll start out player phase where we’ll really get into what the player contracts look like, the opportunity around bonusing, and then ultimately our acquisition and draft of players,” Ebersol said.

One thing in its favor is the quality of coaches the league is assembling. San Diego native Mike Martz, the architect of the record-setting Rams Super Bowl champion quarterbacked by Kurt Warner, is the head coach of the San Diego franchise.

With the thousands of major college football players that do not earn spots on NFL rosters there will certainly be no shortage of guys wanting to prolong their professional football playing careers.

“It’s the only sport in the world where you’ve got nowhere else to play,” Ebersol said.

Well, other than Canada, where several successful NFL players have spent time and former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel just went.

But that’s part of what the AAF is banking on. It wants to give players who were overlooked by National Football League teams a chance to become superstars.

“Kurt Warner exists in more than just one supermarket in the United States,” Ebersol said. “I think what we’re finding is that there are a number of players that, through no fault of their own, haven’t been able to make it into professional football that ultimately are good.”

Good enough to make people in San Diego care about professional football again? We’ll figure that out in February.

Contact Us