To thrive, the AAF needs star players

AP

The Alliance of American Football has generated plenty of interest, thanks to the curiosity factor. If the AAF hopes to thrive, however, it needs star power.

To get there, the AAF can hope that it will cultivate stars organically, which may or may not happen. Alternatively, the AAF can hire players that have acquired star status elsewhere.

So which star player would get you to plan the weekend around watching his team play? It’s a question posed earlier today on Twitter, generating more than 500 responses, many of which were real — and many of which weren’t.

The most common real response pointed to Colin Kaepernick. Although the AAF has never ruled out signing Kaepernick, there’s no evidence that the AAF has ever pursued him. While there’s no reason to think Kaepernick would accept the standard three-year, $250,000 contract with the AAF, the AAF could deviate from its standard compensation package, if it wants to.

Look at the attendance (lack thereof) in Arizona on Sunday night. If Kaepernick were playing for the Hotshots, there definitely wouldn’t be fewer fans in attendance.

Tim Tebow also received plenty of suggestions, but he supposedly has already declined an invitation to play for Steve Spurrier in Orlando. Johnny Manziel’s name also came up, but he’s currently committed to the CFL.

Other interesting names: Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Tony Romo, Chad Kelly, Trevor Lawrence (the AAF has said it will adhere to the NFL’s three-year rule), Aldon Smith. Tongue-in-cheek suggestions included Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Jared Lorenzen.

Regardless, the league will need more (any) sizzle to survive, and to thrive. While NFL fans will tune in for uniforms, helmets, and logos, the AAF is a long, long way from that. To build in that direction, the AAF needs stars.

46 responses to “To thrive, the AAF needs star players

  1. Agreed. Look at Trent Richardson. He clearly outclassed everybody on the field yesterday and was fun to watch.

  2. Well, the AAF needs to generate its own starts – it can’t just be about NFL stars, who will likely never agree to the limited pay offered by the new league. It would be interesting to see what Kaepernick could do, but I don’t know why he’d risk his health.

  3. I love it that the 3 most media frenziedly figures were the 1st mentioned Kapernick, Tebow, Manziel. It is also an excellent idea the go around the price structure just for Kapernick. That sounds like discrimination to me. Why would the league go out and change to fundamental set up of the league just to hire a media darling. Oh I know Romo is a sexy name and might even be added to help generate interest but I assume that you did not see the interview with him saying he has NFL teams calling him still. But why play in the NFL when you can leave a #1 spot in broadcasting for the new upstart football league that pay for the season what he makes in a game.

  4. It doesn’t need star players, its FOOTBALL. It does need to be entertaining and not boring. There was some really good play by some players. And also there were players playing, that you could see why they didn’t make the NFL. Plus, the rules that are slowly killing the NFL don’t exist in the AAF. I will watch it to keep from watching NBA any day.

  5. They just need to play solid football, and not gimmicky XFL or Arena League football. They’ll likely never get NFL talent, because why would someone risk their body and brain for $250K a season? No one wants to see a bunch of washed up has beens either.

  6. So….you just listed off old players (T.O, Ochocinco, etc), bad players (Tebow), or players who wouldn’t even be eligible. I don’t think that is star power. At all.

    Arizona was light on fans. Seemed San Antonio might need a new stadium. The league was fundamentally started two days ago, average fan says they liked it. A bit premature on how they can improve. They’re already better than Arena, XFL, or WLAF. In. Two. Days.

  7. The Alliance doesn’t necessarily need “stars” as evidenced by the fact that the Sat night game outdrew the NBA in tv ratings. It fills a niche perfectly for those who love football and want to watch it almost year round.

    If you think it’s going to rival the NFL in terms of ratings, you’re out of your mind.

  8. Luis Perez looked pretty good in the little bit I watched. Christian Hackenberg unfortunately did not.

  9. I watched the Birmingham / Memphis game, and a few players flashed. Shemar summers a corner, Brown a linebacker, Anthony Johnson a d lineman, Patton a wide receiver, Perez a qb. Some players flashed, while others just looked like average joes out there.

  10. Other interesting names: Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Tony Romo, Chad Kelly, Trevor Lawrence (the AAF has said it will adhere to the NFL’s three-year rule), Aldon Smith. Tongue-in-cheek suggestions included Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Jared Lorenzen.
    ________

    How did you draw the line between “interesting names” and “tongue-in-cheek suggestions”? Why would anyone seriously think Tony Romo would give up a great job in broadcasting to play football again for little money in a league nobody cares about?

  11. This could be the gateway to NFL Europe. Won’t a ‘star’ be snatched up by NFL after one season? Hopefully AAF makes it so they can bump pay to keep enough guys from hanging it up.
    Watched 2.5 games. Not bad, though, for playing together for a month.
    But, what’s up with the ref’s uniforms? Looks like they’re wearing a tight vest over a beer gut.

  12. This presumes the league is most interested in becoming an NFL-Lite experience – and everything they have said indicates that’s not the case. Bill Polian is quoted in their media guide as saying the intent is to complement the NFL and serve as a developmental space for fringe level NFL talent – specifically at the QB position, where we can all agree even NFL teams lack good answers.

    Maybe this would be a good TV product if we got to watch more Tebow, Manziel, or Kaepernick. Or maybe it would stunt the growth and development of other young players who also didn’t cash several NFL paychecks earlier in life.

    To thrive (as a television product) the AAF needs star players. To thrive as a developmental league that complements the NFL for talent evaluators to scrutinize? It doesn’t.

  13. This league will never survive through its own revenue generation. It MUST play nice with the NFL to the point where the league sees value in creating a formal relationship for player development and provides investment money.

    No alternate professional league in any sport has survived and thrived in the modern era without a formal relationship with the main player in its sport, as the USFL, XFL and UFL found out (and the XFL is about to find out again).

  14. The best thing about the AAF is they don’t have star players and it’s about football. Who wants distractions because the media needs them to stir up the flock and be like the NFL, where the media thinks they are a part of the game.

  15. why in the heck would hall of fame NFL players go play for this leauge in retirement?? Some of the names being thrown out there are ridiculous!! This league is for young guys who either never made it through an NFL camp or flamed out after being drafted. It’s not for old men who had brilliant NFL careers and want to enjoy retirement.

  16. If they really want stars, they need to increase the salary. $75k/year is not worth it for some NFL veterans to play the game unless they’re really desperate for money. But I’m assuming salary will increase with popularity so it might be a few years before there’s a significant increase.

  17. Star players mean divas and constant complaining. I didn’t see any of that, just football. I wouldn’t change the pay structure just for star players.

  18. Quinton Patton looked like a stud. Would be fun to see these stars come out organically, truly resurrect their career through this league.

  19. This IS a NFL league…lets not kid ourselves. Kurt Warner MC’ing…The NFL NETWORK broadcasting games. It’s about time.I like they’re trying new cities like San Antonio and Memphis and Birmingham. I like the numbers on one side of the helmet. I like that Nike is not involved with the uniforms. I like that the HIT that knocked off the QB’s head was legal! (San Antonio vs San Diego). I’ll keep watching.

  20. Because broadcasting is going to be there for Romo no matter what. I hate the cowboys but I wish romo called every one of my teams games, he’s that good/entertaining compared to everyone else. Now, why he would go to that league when NFL teams still call, THAT would make zero sense. I think it’s clear & obvious that he’s put playing behind him so alll this conjecture is moot. Getting T.O. would be entertaining though

  21. If you have $3M in savings your money should make you more than the take home of what these guys are playing for. The taxes that get levied on these players (you have to pay in each state you play in) at this tax bracket is pretty significant.

    This league will need better QB play to “thrive” and it simply won’t get it. For football the fall off at QB play is far more dramatic than it is for other positions. The players that can man CB and LB are far more plentiful to pick from and will end up playing vs QBs that can’t make an NFL roster. Look at your team’s 3rd string QB. You want to watch him play? Only Saints fans don’t cringe at that thought.

    If you are going to be a developmental league you have to allow kids out of H.S. to come play. Football isn’t like baseball where you can spend 3 years in college and 3 in the minors and have your health to have a long career. Most careers don’t see a 3rd year in the NFL.

  22. By all means sign Kaepernick…so he can be exposed as the terrible QB he really is. I’m all for Kaepernick taking the field.

    But, something tells me that Kaepernick wouldn’t play no matter how much the AAF offered him. He knows he would be exposed and he’d rather keep the victim myth alive than have to prove to the world that every NFL team was right to not want him on their team.

  23. For the league to survive, the people who watched the games need to have a reason to continue to watch the games. For that to happen, they need professional TV people who have an ability to talk about the players and create stars. I didn’t think they paid nearly enough attention to the players. The folks watching this league are generally the football geeks. The draftniks. The dynasty Fantasy football league guys. We’re interested in finding players who can play in the NFL. Guys like Kurt Warner. We’re not going to turn on out TV’s because we like Marvin Lewis, or Maurice Jones-Drew. Those aren’t the big names we’re interested in. It’s the guys on the field, and they need to be hyped up as guys who have NFL talent. That’s what we want. They need to hire Mike Lombardi, and let him come up with a strategy of how to do this. The guy is a walking football genius when it comes to this stuff. He’s worked for Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, and others, and has the credibility, and the intelligence to figure out how to create stars. There are actually a lot of players in this league who can start on NFL teams, but the announcers don’t know who they are. Lombardi does. He can tell you what each player needs to do to get signed by an NFL team, etc. Football geeks aren’t necessarily tech geeks too, so we don’t care about watching the replay guy mumble, and then get the call wrong. We just want the call to be right. I don’t need to hear what they’re saying in the huddle. I can’t figure it out anyway. I don’t need sideline interviews. I’m interested in seeing guys get a second chance, or a first chance if they’re a guy like Luis Perez who went to a small school. That’s why guys like Tony Romo and Kurt Warner didn’t get drafted. Forget about the Christian Hackenberg’s of the world. If I see him again, my TV is getting turned off. Don’t try to B.S. us with bad players, just because you think they have big names. Remember, we’re football geeks. We know better.

  24. I think this league can be a game changer. If they put off the start of the league 2 weeks after the sb, it will help. Think about it, the Indoor Football League is starting up in a few weeks. If you are player trying to get back into the NFL, where would you rather play; in a league whose games are on YouTube or on actual television, on real networks where you can be seen? No brainier really.

  25. Why do they need stars? They’re a developmental league. They need to provide solid entertainment at an appropriate price and prove they can successfully feed players into the NFL. There are no star players in minor league baseball, but the model works. It’s a fun local event without the hefty price tag and if you’re a hardcore baseball fan it’s fun because it’s a developmental league for next year’s major league players.

  26. I have to give Vince Mcmahon credit…. he was actually a couple years too early on his league.. i think if he had waited a few more years (like when thurs. Night football) became a thing, he would have been more successful. He wouldnt have gotten all desperate and cheesey Nd went tonwhat works for him at wwf.

    I enjoyed what i saw of games, it will be interesteing to see which players breakout, or id trent richardson is the mvp at thenend of the season.

  27. charliecharger says:
    February 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm
    need to hire Mike Lombardi, and let him come up with a strategy of how to do this. The guy is a walking football genius when it comes to this stuff. He’s worked for Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, and others, and has the credibility, and the intelligence to figure out how to create stars. There are actually a lot of players in this league who can start on NFL teams, but the announcers don’t know who they are. Lombardi does.
    ________________________________________
    The very same Mike Lombardi that castigated the Eagles for hiring Doug Pederson, right before Doug led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory? A “genius” he is not, which is why the NFL gave up on Mike Lombardi a long time ago!

  28. I was the AZ game. I think there were little more fans there are being given credit. They had a large block in 1 endzone and some in the other endzone. It looked to me that some other teams didn’t sell endzone tickets at all(Birmingham). It was also a Sunday night vs Sat night. And from I saw from looking at some replay, NFLN didn’t really show good shots of the areas that had fans. Let’s see how it goes going forward.

  29. rkt4mayor says:
    February 11, 2019 at 12:37 pm
    By all means sign Kaepernick…so he can be exposed as the terrible QB he really is. I’m all for Kaepernick taking the field.

    But, something tells me that Kaepernick wouldn’t play no matter how much the AAF offered him. He knows he would be exposed and he’d rather keep the victim myth alive than have to prove to the world that every NFL team was right to not want him on their team.

    ——————-

    Hate hate hate. He proved he can play in the league. To say differently is just to be a hater. No he isn’t elite but of course he should be on a roster.

  30. Romo could be a walk-on starter for any team in the NFL, period. No way he would waste his time with any AAF nonsense.

    But in response to your headline that AAF needs star players to thrive: GIVE IT TIME. They’ve played one week of football. Let them play a few games and inevitably there will be sand-outs, who will inevitably become fan favorites.

  31. Also, Maurice Jones Drew may be the worst color analyst I’ve ever heard. They have to be able to find someone better than him. And shockingly (to me anyway), Marvin Lewis wasn’t all that much better.

  32. Agreed, it is an NFL league in that, the plan is to play nice with the NFL league. The contracts are 3 years with an escape to the NFL clause. thus not, an escape t the XFL clause. This is also a set salary, so as not to be used as a bargaining chip by the agents who in the 80’s played the NFL and USFL against each other.

  33. Agreed, the future will hold many stories of this is how he started out, in the AAFL… let’s support it and watch the future unfold.

  34. I think you a largely correct, however, this does have a chance because it is a development league. I think the product will improve each year, and there will be expansion teams to support all the NFL teams at some point-3 to 5 years…this would make better football in the fall of 2020 or 2021, but also potentially entertaining football and opportunity in the Spring- but not at NFL prices- so a possible affordable escape for your family of 4, etc.

  35. Part of the reason why the USFL failed was need for cash that new franchises brought to the league, so they expanded too quickly… this league, if expanded intelligently could have long term benefits because it is centralized and the charter for the league stays solid without greed driven or desperate activist owner intervention-which killed the USFL

  36. I think there will be more runway for the marketing of the talent, once the league is up and running. Let’s see how the development of the players goes after 6 to 8 games this year. If it progresses, we may have Spring football for awhile.

  37. A developmental league needs stars? That’s almost an oxymoron. Stars play in the NFL. If they’re not good enough for the NFL, they’re not stars. They’re either has-beens or curiosities.

  38. cardiovascularendurance says:
    February 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm
    Also, Maurice Jones Drew may be the worst color analyst I’ve ever heard. They have to be able to find someone better than him. And shockingly (to me anyway), Marvin Lewis wasn’t all that much better.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    No disrespect to MJD, but this league would ot only develop better players to be ready for prime time one day, and coaches and GM opportunities, but as you point out … better announcing eventually for the games – CBS sports doesn’t have the access to Keith Jackson, like previous leagues did (at ABC)…

  39. ***
    If Kaepernick were playing for the Hotshots, there definitely wouldn’t be fewer fans in attendance.
    ***

    Are you sure about that? I’d hand my tickets off in a heartbeat.

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