More and more NFL fans every year seem to become increasingly dissatisfied. Not with the game itself, but with the league. Or at least they say that they are dissatisfied, and even that they’re going to stop watching, but of course many of them continue to do so anyway. To be fair, it’s a hard habit to break.
But it’s probably because of this that we have seen a number of new leagues popping up recently. The Spring League is one, and Vince McMahon has big plans to bring the XFL back, hopefully as a more serious outlet than during its first incarnation.
The one with the most impressive backing though seems to be the Alliance of American Football, which has as some of its backers Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol. The latter is the son of Dick Ebersol (who sits on the board of directors) and is a sports documentary filmmaker who was also a part of McMahon’s initial XFL operation. Their intention is to hold a 12-week season beginning after the NFL season ends, hosting eight teams.
The first two franchise cities have already been announced, the first in Orlando and the second in Atlanta. Steve Spurrier has been announced as the head coach of the Orlando franchise, while Brad Childress will coach the Atlanta franchise. Mike Vick will be the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta franchise under Childress.
And former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who is also a part of the AAF, jumped on the league’s official Twitter account recently to post a video announcing that the third city awarded a franchise is Memphis. He will be in town this week to help reveal who the Tennessee team’s head coach will be.
Ward is the Player Relations Executive of the upstart league. While his biography on the league’s website doesn’t really go into any detail about what exactly that job description entails, I would gather that the role is fairly obvious.
In case you’ve forgotten, former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is also a part of the AAF, and his title is the Head of Player Relations, so it certainly sounds as though he and Ward will be working together quite a bit.
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is also a Player Relations Executive, while former New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck is involved in Player Engagement. I would imagine that more executives will be added as the league gets closer to is inaugural season.
There are still five more cities remaining that will earn franchises, and at some point there will be a draft, though clearly the league will be unable to have the same sort of labor-intensive offseasons of the NFL.
The product on the field is going to pale in comparison, necessarily, in terms of talent, but these upstart professional leagues could serve some vital roles if supported. First and foremost, they could serve a incubators of underdeveloped talent. But they can also experiment with new ideas and rule changes to see how they will affect the game.