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The Case For Being Cautiously, Stupidly, Optimistic About The Newest Pro Football League

Regardless of your feelings on the Alliance of American Football, at least it doesn’t include Roger Goodell.


I would like to claim that the reason I don’t watch many NFL games is that they’re boring, but that’s not the truth. Though the games are slow and often predictable, even in their unpredictability, the formula isn’t what drove me away. No, the main reason I don’t watch is time. It’s a precious commodity. With three kids and a busy schedule, 3.5 hours is an act of devotion. Those are hours I could spend taking my offspring to a museum they don’t really appreciate or otherwise directing them to burn energy away from the home in a way they could have easily done in the back yard.

But, also, the NFL is boring. Really boring. There are always underdogs, upsets, surprises, sure. They are predictably unpredictable. Even if we don’t know how the unpredictability will shake out, it always follows some pattern, one we’re accustomed to. Or were accustomed to. For here comes the Alliance of American Football, which might just prove to be a sport rather than a business that has been focus-grouped and analyzed into the realm of sad reboot, season after season.

Granted, my optimism is unfounded. And there’s still the new and theoretically improved XFL to contend with, though it’s been less forthcoming with details or even a marketing strategy.

Which would make it consistent with the former XFL, which was definitely not a farm league for the NFL, a fact Jared Lorenzen can attest to, Super Bowl ring notwithstanding.

Okay, it’s true Lorenzen played arena football, which is distinct from the XFL and from whatever the Alliance of American Football is promising. He may not have even been drafted into the Alliance of American Football had it existed in his heyday. But what about Tim Tebow? Maybe they would sign him as a quarterback. He never fit the NFL mold, but he possibly could’ve worked in a chaotic new venture. Of course, we’re applying a time machine because that’s how boring the NFL is, but he’s still got some years left, probably.

Or probably not. I really don’t know. I’m not up to speed on all the could-have-beens, or even the playing nows, because of the aforementioned boringness. What I do know is that I didn’t think Tebow should play quarterback in the NFL when his time came, because the formula is the one ring. But what if there were a league that welcomed his unorthodox style of play?

Which is where the Alliance offers hope, much like the faction of the same name in “Star Wars,” but without the predictable plotline. Or lasers. At least as currently announced.

This alliance, predicated on recruiting all the local talent left hanging after the NFL draft and limiting games to two-and-a-half hour broadcasts and likely not incorporating lasers, maybe, just maybe, might deliver delicious chunks of high-performing and quality football in short bursts. Bursts which allows those of us who have other things to do to recline, watch some explosive plays, and then head out to take our kids to art museums that they don’t appreciate.

Or it may be a flop, another example of predictability, much like its predecessors. It may be an unwatched flameout, a failed attempt to dethrone the NFL from its dominance.

If that happens, it will be deserved. Markets are still efficient, though they’re unpopular. Until such time, though, we should hold out hope. Maybe even a new hope. Maybe those undrafted players, who — regardless of what the Alliance’s founders are saying — are definitely playing for a shot in the NFL, will innovate and offer us some true excitement.

Maybe it will offer them the opportunity to play for a win for the team, and not to play for the win because it might aid their next career move. Maybe it will offer us the chance to watch those efforts and legitimately cheer and actually wonder about the outcome.

Or maybe it will suck and be a gimmicky nightmare that makes us appreciate the NFL again. As of now, though, in an era of disaggregation and disruption, we shouldn’t assume that. We should be cautiously, perhaps stupidly, optimistic and hope that professional football is on its way back and that Roger Goodell is silently weeping as he ruminates upon what his death star could have been.