KSL UNRIVALED

The Alliance Of American Football Needs Superstar Players

Feb 27, 2019, 3:06 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm
Salt Lake Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum (6) pulls back to throw a pass against the Arizona Hot...
Salt Lake Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum (6) pulls back to throw a pass against the Arizona Hotshots at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Silas Walker, Deseret News)
(Silas Walker, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Steve Young, Reggie White and Jim Kelly. All of these names have one unique thing in common and it is not just that they are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

All of them also played in the USFL, a pro football league that existed from 1983-85. That type of star power is exactly what the Alliance of American Football, a league in a similar position as the USFL, is lacking.

It’s true, the AAF is only in its third week of existence, but so far no players have really stood out. There are still plenty of athletes with great human interest stories from their past lives that make them compelling, but for this league to thrive, it needs to have household names who put up big numbers.

People are watching these the AAF, as is shown by the opening week ratings on CBS which had nearly three million people tune in. The league also beat a marquee NBA game that same night. While the number of viewers dipped as games moved to TNT and the NFL Network, people are still watching the fledgling football league.

What will it take to be more than just another spring football league?

To make it as a legitimate and respected league, having star players is the obvious answer. Or the very least, having  names that the casual sports fan would know to give them an incentive to be invested in the AAF.

However, KSL’s Unrivaled host Alex Kirry felt that having superstars in the league may be a difficult challenge.

“I don’t know where these superstars are going to come from?” Kirry asked. “If they are superstars they are going to be in the NFL, and if they are in the NFL they will not allow them to come down and play in the AAF.”

The current NFL collective bargainuing agreement may not allow for it, but Unrivaled co-host Scott Mitchell still made the case as to how it could help backups and third-string players on NFL rosters develop, plus create buzz for the AAF.

The player Mitchell brought up was former BYU quarterback and current New Orleans Saints do-it-all player Taysom Hill as an athlete that would not only benefit from more playing time under center but also could create fan excitement to a franchise like that Salt Lake Stallions.

 

“I can tell you someone who could probably fill the stadium: Taysom Hill. If they would let Taysom Hill come back it would be the perfect scenario for him,” Mitchell said. “He can always be a special teams guy [in the NFL], but if there is an opportunity for him to go and actually play then he should. I know I did it and it was so invaluable.”

Mitchell had experience playing in a spring football league with the Orlando Thunder in the World League while still under contract in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. So he knows how valuable it was at the time to get actual meaningful live reps as a quarterback, even in a spring league

“For a guy like Taysom Hill who is kind of rough and needs some polishing, to have no pressure on you and it is not like the NFL would be so beneficial,” Mitchell stated. “You can now take all of the knowledge and all of the things you have absorbed from Drew Brees and Sean Payton. Get out on the field and go through the whole process of just being in the game, calling plays in a huddle, going to the line of scrimmage, making a decision, and living under the play clock. Those things you can never simulate and he won’t get the opportunity to do that, and they won’t develop Taysom Hill after they get done with Drew Brees.”

The most important goal for the AAF is long-term viability and creating a good enough product fans want to watch. That is a reason why the salary structure is equal across all players and positions. If there is going to be a superstar emerge in this league it will have to come from within the league’s current structure.  The Alliance will not want to have costs sky-rocket with players demanding or holding out for more pay.

Who knows? Maybe one day the NFL will become more involved or even partner with the AAF to allow lower-tier players a place to hone their craft. In the meantime, any star power from the AAF will have to come from within the current structure of the league.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.

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The Alliance Of American Football Needs Superstar Players