There are 162 games in an MLB baseball season, 82 in an NBA season, but in an NFL season there are only a measly 16 games, which are played along with the playoffs.
Every summer, football fans are forced to go through a drought and have in the past looked to cheaper versions of football like the Arena League for entertainment. But now, a solution has arrived: the Alliance of American Football (AAF).
The AAF is experimenting with some established rules in the name of innovation and safety. The NFL has stated it will be watching closely to see the effect on the way the game is played.
Kick-offs have been completely removed in the name of player safety, and on every touchdown, you must go for two. Another key difference is technology, with an eye-in-the-sky camera, referee analysis in real time and balls embedded with a GPS sensor.
The AAF is an eight-team league with teams placed in markets that don’t have a pro football team. The teams are league-owned and are composed of former big-name NFL players and Canadian football players who need a second chance.
The AAF began on Feb. 9, 2019, and saw an opening that exceeded expectations. The San Antonio Commanders versus the San Diego Fleet game saw an attendance of 27,000 fans. The AAF came prepared with TV deals, and on Saturday night they surpassed the viewing numbers of the NBA matchup Rockets versus Thunder.
Here in the southern region, the Birmingham Iron versus Memphis Express matchup drew a croud of 17,000 at Legion Field. This was one of the only occasions at the legendary field where Auburn and Alabama fans alike cheered for the same team.
Former Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Novak and former Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson—an Alabama alum who fans want to see get a second chance—headline the Birmingham Iron’s lineup. The Express had former N.Y. Jet Christian Hackenberg, and he proved why he is no longer in the NFL.
The Iron put on a show for local fans as they managed to not only score 26 points, but also shutout the express from scoring any points. The exciting offense on display was matched by the staunch defense that kept the Express from scoring.
Local star Trent Richardson was instrumental in the victory, gaining 58 yards and scoring the only two touchdowns of the game. Nick Novak earned his keep as well by scoring on four field goals on four different attempts.
The game started for Iron with a catch and hurdle by tight end 80 Braedon Bowman and ended with an interception that allowed them to seal the game.
The AAF does not seek to replace the NFL in content or popularity but rather offer fans another option to watch their favorite sport. Eight teams are not a lot, but with the promising start the league has seen, the word “expansion” is already in the air. Time will tell if fans continue to support and watch, but for now, America is once again able to watch good football.