The first weekend of the Alliance of American Football came and went and it was … a huge success? I watched a bunch of football despite the NFL season being over and the numbers show that a lot of people joined me in the process. Unequivocally, the AAF had a great first weekend with lots of chatter about the games and lots of viral moments, none of them involving Christian Hackenberg in a good way.
So can the AAF keep the success up? Is this league sustainable? To break it down, Brady Quinn joined me on the Pick Six Podcast for Tuesday’s edition — it’s our daily NFL pod, rolling out Monday-Friday even during the offseason! — and explained why he thinks the AAF is a viable football option for the long haul.
Quinn believes it absolutely is because it not only has developmental abilities in terms of helping get players to the NFL, but it is capable of developing other “positions” in the NFL community too.
“Here’s the issue: NFL Europe, it was a great league for development. You got guys like Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme out of it. There’s countless other players, but Kurt Warner is a Hall of Famer and Jake Delhomme went to a Super Bowl, so it kind of proves the point. If you can get one player out of a developmental league who goes to the Hall of Fame, you’re like, OK, this can be pretty legit,” Quinn explained. “Owners had to pay about $1 million a pop, which is the number I heard, to make that work. Maybe it was more than that. But it worked. It not only gave players the opportunity to develop, but it also gave coaches the opportunity to coach, it gave officials more reps — that helped them continue to build up their roster — and it helped broadcasts.
“I know people don’t care about the broadcast, but ultimately when you’re serving up different replays and things that are being used in the replay process it matters. To have a bunch of people who know what they’re doing on all these stages because they’ve had all these reps is important.”
Additionally, the AAF is — right now — a standalone extra football league that is proving it can be “self-sustained,” which is precisely the kind of thing the NFL wants to see. The league would love a proving ground for ideas and technology and players and coaches, one the NFL can partner with but not actually have to foot the ball for.
“They want to see someone create a model where its self-sustained, they don’t need any help from owners but they can eventually partner with them,” Quinn continued. “The reason why I think it’ll be able to sustain itself is for starters they’ve already found a partner for broadcasts in CBS, they’ve already opened themselves up to allow gambling as that continues to improve and they’ve got an app that allows you to do that, and they’ve been able to cap what they’re paying their players, so that’s a fixed cost right there.”
Having said all that, it’s not completely sunshine and roses for the AAF. The first weekend was great. People liked it. There were fun names attached to the various teams. But as Brady noted, the names and stories have to continue for the AAF to see sustained success.
If Mike Martz and Steve Spurrier and all the players who have name-brand value suddenly peel off for greener pastures (the NFL), it would be problematic.
On the other hand, the AAF isn’t stopping anyone from going. In fact, it WANTS to see players leave for the NFL, because it means that the developmental part of the program is working really well. It just needs to avoid some kind of mass exodus in terms of players and coaches departing.
Do that and the league, as Quinn noted, could be set up for success over the long haul.