Sport: NFL only stands to gain from upstart leagues like the AAF - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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SportNFL only stands to gain from upstart leagues like the AAF

21:25  12 february  2019
21:25  12 february  2019 Source:   yardbarker.com

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NFL only stands to gain from upstart leagues like the AAF © Sam Greenwood/AAF/Getty Images

One of the more accepted precepts of American life is that competition spurs innovation. It might be a stretch to say the Alliance of American Football is actual competition for the NFL — especially since their seasons don’t currently overlap — but the AAF just might end up making an impact on how the NFL conducts its business.

The AAF began play this past weekend and can already tout outdrawing the viewership of a prime-time NBA game as an achievement. That’s probably a testament to the country’s love affair with football more than anything, but given what a disaster Super Bowl LIII was and what a persistent PR nightmare the NFL seems to always exist in, it’s remarkable to see any pro football league have what many are describing as a positive debut.

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Many hope that the AAF eventually becomes a developmental league for the NFL — kind of the football equivalent of the G League to the NBA. This seems to be the fate of every upstart league to some extent. It was the plan for the short-lived UFL that began 10 years ago but only lasted until 2012. The AAF has some prominent backing, so even if significantly cutting into the NFL’s dominance is unlikely, it seems like it may hold on a bit longer.

NFL only stands to gain from upstart leagues like the AAF © Sam Greenwood/AAF/Getty Images

For the time being, though, most are concerned with how the AAF will affect the NFL. Being an incubator for talent is nice, and there are certainly plenty of examples players moving to the NFL and becoming stars after playing in other leagues for a while. But the more lasting impact may very well be the slight rule or procedure changes the AAF can inspire in the NFL.

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For example, having a transparent review process was a huge hit among viewers — though thankfully this wasn’t a thing when the NFL had such a difficult time defining a catch, as it probably would have made people more and more angry about the shifting, incomprehensible standard that even the NFL barely understood.

Why this is so important? Presently the only way the NFL arrives at change is by outrage at its mistakes. There will likely be some alteration to what plays can be reviewed this offseason, but that’s only because there was a catastrophic officiating mistake that likely changed the outcome of a conference championship and possibly did lasting damage to the rooting interest of one fan base.

This is how it’s been for the NFL for quite a while. It arrives at evolution through growing pains. That will still happen to some degree even if new leagues keep popping up, but for once the NFL gets the chance to sit back and improve without mistakes that anger and sometimes alienate fans.

As with many things, this growth depends on whether the NFL can get out of the way of its own arrogance. Unfortunately, more often than not, that’s not the case.

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