Back in January, WWE owner Vince McMahon announced the return of the XFL in 2020, his failed football league from the early 2000s created in conjunction with NBC and their president of sports, Dick Ebersol. Now, right on the cusp of McMahon’s return to football it’s Dick’s son Charlie who’s undercut him, creating the Alliance of American Football (AAF) that will play in the spring and beat XFL to your television screens and local stadiums by a full year.
Is there room for two spring football leagues? The short answer is no. The long answer is, every player, promoter and agent is going to put a lot more trust in Charlie Ebersol’s product than McMahon’s, since it doesn’t already have the stink of failure on it.
Unlike McMahon’s announcement that had few details and a lot of patented Vince antagonism and horse shit, Ebersol’s league is ready to go. Charlie has cut deals with CBS and CBS Sports Network to broadcast games and the league will kick off a week after Super Bowl LIII in February.
While McMahon will likely be pulling a Donald Trump-ian crew of cronies and ass lickers to run his league, Ebersol has put former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian and former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Universe safety Troy Polamalu in charge of his.
— AAF (@TheAAF) March 20, 2018
While they’ve not selected logos or nicknames yet, the AAF has teams set up in Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Tempe and Salt Lake City. More than that, they already have their head coaches of those franchises lined up. Ultimately the league will field eight teams in its inaugural season.
Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress will run the Atlanta team. Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary will coach in Memphis, former South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier will coach in Orlando, former Seattle Seahawks head coach Dennis Erickson will coach in Salt Lake City and on Friday the league announced former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisal will wear the whistle for the Tempe, Ariz. team.
— AAF (@TheAAF) May 18, 2018
McMahon made it clear when he resurrected the XFL that his league won’t be a minor league feeder system for the NFL. Ebersol has made no such decree, which means if there’s a competition over players, the AAF will most certainly win since every guy taking the field in either of these leagues is trying to land on an NFL roster.
The AAF also hasn’t publicly, at least so far, stated they’ll punish protests or keep guys with criminal records out of the league. McMahon made it clear that neither are allowed. While nobody wants to see a violent offender suit up in anything other than an orange jumpsuit, keeping guys with minor or drug-related brushes with the law out of your league is a recipe for disaster. NFL and NCAA cast-offs will be exactly the men who could be come AAF or XFL superstars.
Of course, with the good comes the silly too. The AAF is tinkering with its rules. There are no extra point kicks and no kick-offs. To replace an onside kick, a team can run an offensive play from their own 35. If they gain 10 yards, they keep the ball.
— AAF (@TheAAF) May 10, 2018
The playclock will be only 30 seconds and there will be no television time outs and “60 percent fewer” commercials.
What difference will any of that make? No one will really care. What we will care about is the quality of play, coaching and player talent. Pro Football has needed a minor league since the World League shut down. If the AAF embraces that role, it could have a nice, life.
The XFL? Not so much. In fact, at this point I’d be surprised if McMahon’s league doesn’t fold before it even starts.
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