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Cory's Corner: The AAF Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

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Cory's Corner: The AAF Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

The three letters on the lips of sports fans everywhere are AAF.

The Alliance of American Football isn’t popular simply because it’s football. (But obviously that doesn’t hurt.) The reason why so many people cannot stop talking about the AAF is because it looks and feels like the NFL product we used to know. It also shows us how NFL rules changes have made an attractive product look like something else. 

The AAF kicked off this past weekend and it has been a welcome change from the antiseptic NFL. Now I know the NFL doesn’t want to pay any more money for head traumas but the league has gotten so worried that it is making defensive players shy away from making a tackle. 

And when guys like Clay Matthews do make an excellent form tackle, he gets penalized and fined. 

Not so in the AAF. Nobody knew who the heck Earl Okine was before this past weekend. Now, he is a Twitter legend. Okine completely flattened quarterback Matt Simms on a simple first down play. Simms released the ball and made the seven-yard completion but Okine made him pay for it by making Simms’ body completely horizontal before it hit the turf. 

Was it a tough hit? Yes. Is that football? Yes. The AAF is great because it’s football at its core. The players aren’t getting paid much but they still hold of glimmer of hope that they will either make it back to the NFL or step on an NFL sideline for the very first time. And the AAF allows the players to simply play. You don’t see defensive tackles or linebackers pulling up when they are about to swallow the quarterback for fear of a 15-yard penalty. You just see athleticism jumping off the screen. 

But arguably the best move the AAF has is the SkyJudge. Allowing a referee to sit up in the booth and make instant changes to officiating errors. It’s all about getting the play right without it taking forever. The league’s goal is to play in 2½ hours. That’s a huge difference from the AFC Championship Game that was over 3 hours before regulation was finished. 

The AAF is a breath of fresh air because many NFL fans have been screaming for what the AAF currently has. The question will be how quick will the NFL be willing to change? If the AAF proves successful with going back to real tackling and the use of technology to make games more efficient, then the NFL might want to consider what has been missing from its recipe.

The AAF is brand new and it outdrew the NBA on the very first weekend. People can see an imposter a mile away and even though the AAF doesn’t have top-level talent, it has guys like Trent Richardson, Denard Robinson and Jayrone Elliott. These are guys that are hungry and they are going to play their tails off.

The AAF might not be filled with entertainment value but it’s football in most basic form. And that’s something that fans have wanted for awhile. 



Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (26) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

"But arguably the best move the AAF has is the SkyJudge. Allowing a referee to sit up in the booth and make instant changes to officiating errors."

This has been what I have been saying the NFL NEEDS to do for a long time now. I have brought it up a lot and that is a fairly easy change that the NFL needs to adopt.
If it were me, I'd get rid of the head official on the field going to review. I'd have the official in the booth make the call. He is going to have access to bigger tv's, he likely will be able to view all the footage quicker. It would speed up the game and would make for a better game IMO.

I did not watch much of it this weekend but I saw enough that I want to watch more.

What I'm really curious about is with this league, is what is the future of the league. Does this become the minor leagues to the NFL? Does the NFL and AAF eventually come to an agreement where the NFL can send some players that they want more developed. Somewhat kind of like NFL Europe.

Where is this going, is what I'm really curious to watch and see.

Lare's picture

I agree, and have also been calling for some type of officiating review for years. In this day & age, there's no reason why obvious officiating mistakes can't be corrected. And it doesn't have to take 5-minutes to review.

Didn't watch the AAF's first games, but will definitely be watching future games.

Mojo's picture

SkyJudge sounds like some kind of Roman deity.

Community Guy's picture

i watched parts of every game last weekend. i agree that the transparent Skyjudge process was hands-down the biggest positive takeaway. one follows the reasoning of the judge making the call, the call is made, play continues. most often, the judge doesn't need to take more than 20-30s.

additionally, the faster pace of the AAF games greatly improve the viewer experience. part of the faster pace is the elimination of the kicking plays, and their corresponding commercial breaks.. bravo AAF!

finally, the quality of AAF play was better than i expected. it demonstrated that the gap in talent between NFL players and the guys who just miss the league is very small.

of course, the NFL will have the best QB talent and play. the AAF organizers acknowledged this deficiency and placed a hindrance on pass rush to balance the dip in AAF QB talent.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Is it really that big of a hindrance only being able to rush 5 without the QB leaving the box? I think it seems fair beat the guy in front of you. Once the QB leaves the box send in an extra guy maybe two to hunt him down. I like their rule changes and it's been fun seeing Odom and Martini again!

Nick Perry's picture

(Roger Goodell would faint if he saw this! #AAF)

After watching that clip I remembered what the game I loved used to look like. It was a bang, bang play. It was a play that would never have been called a penalty even 3 years ago.

When I think about the 2018 season I'll rememeber the Packers weren't that good, and EVERYTIME a player hit the QB he'd get up and look for a flag before anything else. ESPECIALLY if your name was Matthews.

RCPackerFan's picture

And the penalty in the Vikings game literally cost them the game. They would have won it had that flag not been thrown.

Also the Redskins game that was a huge penalty against Mathews. In the game of football there are momentum swings and once your teams has the momentum its hard to stop. Who knows what happens in that game if that flag isn't thrown.

I hope watching this league and hearing people talk about it, the NFL will re-evolve more to its old rules.

Coldworld's picture

I didn’t watch, and wasn’t going to comment, but the remarks about the state of the NFL were simply too close to my feeling not to endorse.

Based upon the above, I have changed my mind and will check out this league. It sounds like real football where the D has a chance. In my view pure offense is getting boring. I want contested plays and players able to play hard without hesitation. It is supposed to be a contest between the teams on the field not between offenses. In reality, the NFL seems to be moving to the latter reality predominantly.

That is without the abysmal failure of the NFL to get a grip on and pay for adequate officiating. I am tired of watching games that are decided on blown calls. I thought the league realized that after the Fail Mary incident, until this season consistently showed otherwise. I have great sympathy with the Saints fans, but surely that level of rediculousness must spark a radical rethink? On past performance I doubt it.

I never took the idea of a challenge to the NFL seriously, but the state of the NFL game is such that they might have opened a door long thought closed for good. Were I an owner, I would be arguing that Mr Goodall and most of his crew should be fired for allowing the NFL to get to the point where the comments to this article as well as those in it are being openly voiced. Wake up Jerry, Murphy and co.!

Packer Fan's picture

This is good to have competition for the NFL. We will see how this league pans out. I haven't seen the game, but now I will watch to see how the game is played. The NFL is ticky tacky. Full of questionable fouls, games being decided by the refs because the called a penalty and because they didn't call a penalty. Inserting a new rule and then dropping it after realizing the players can't follow it: ie Matthews. I will watch this weekend.

Coldworld's picture

He did follow it as far as I can tell after the reinterpretation of the reinterpretation brought application into line with what he did at least. Of course the NFL never admitted that, but then they still insist the Fail Mary was a legitimate call. What is clear is that the refs could not consistently apply it it as because they did not have a unified understanding of what rule meant in practice, as one could see clearly watching different games. The evolution through bad calls and PR approach screws with the league and devalues the product.

You are right, maybe this league has come around at the right time.

pacman's picture

I agree with the sky judge concept or anything similar. But there will always be some judgement calls - could the receiver really have made the catch without that holding? Did that little tug on the jersey really slow down the receiver? Was that a push off or just an arm movement?

But regarding hitting the QB or defenseless player? Concussions are no joke. Didn't anyone see the movie? The game does not have to be 'make him pay' for throwing or catching the ball.

Here's a new idea - have the defense play without pads cause they are not getting hit. That might balance out the hit.

Spaceghost34's picture

The game does not have to appeal to those who want it to be something it isn't, either. If you're so concerned about concussions, sit your ass on the couch and bitch about it. Don't give us this bullshit about concussions and "the game doesn't". Just shut up already. These guys have played the game, they understand the risks, and are pursuing it regardless. Just because you're not willing to, doesn't mean you need to get on your soapbox and warn everyone about the risks they're willfully taking.

Jonathan Spader's picture

I was born and raised in Alaska where crab fishing has the highest fatality rate of any job. The world can live without crab meat. Yet sailors are willing to risk their lives for a paycheck. Athletes are aware of CTE & other risks involved in playing the game they love. It's their bodies and their decision whether or not they want to pursue their dream.

pacman's picture

Nobody is putting crab fishing on TV to have people cheering to see a good 'kill'!

Why not just throw them all into the Coliseum with the lions. I'll bet that would get a good audience too.

Jonathan Spader's picture

That's where you're wrong once again pacman. A few of my friends were on the show deadliest catch. The first few seasons weren't "dangerous enough" so they had to up the "danger" to stay on TV.

The point I was making is humans have free will and we can choose to do what we want profession wise with our lives. Regardless of the risk involved if we know those risks and accept them that's our decision to make.

Handsback's picture

I watched some of a game this weekend expecting terrible was the opposite. I was very impressed with what I saw. NFL might be a little nervous, not that it will replace it but make expectations that they can't reach.

freddisch's picture

After the Okine hit , my wife and I looked at one another and said “ that’s what NFL use to look like”

Big Moe's picture

Sweet, I lost all faith in the NFL this year, it is just to horrible to watch anymore, I'd love to watch real football again! Not For Long may just apply to the NFL now and not just players.

Bearmeat's picture

I didn't watch last week, but I'm sure as heck going to do so at the next chance.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I don't watch any tv except for the local news at 10 pm. While flipping thru during a commercial I noticed this AAF game was on. Only caught the last 2 mintues or so. Had no clue it was on but from all the talk here I will have to check it out. I can't believe they didn't throw a flag on that hit. I imagine watching this new league is like learning to drive on the left side of the road instead of the right.


buckybadgerbb's picture

Looks fun, sure.

But using my brain that I still have, it can not right to be paying people to develop CTE for our mere entertainment.

I support the NFLs effort to reduce concussions, even if it leads to a less entertaining sport.

Lare's picture

The NFL could reduce or eliminate concussions and other injuries if they really wanted to. In every game I see at least 5 helmet-to-helmet hits that aren't called. And how about all the facemark grabs (I counted three) that went uncalled in the Rams-Saints game.

If they quit calling the tacky-tacky non-fouls and start calling the serious fouls players will learn not to do it anymore.

PatrickGB's picture

One the problems with the NFL is inconsistent calls. Better and more consistent judgement is needed from the refs.

But, think about it, if we had won a few more games eg Clays penalty’s then we would still have MM and Zook. It worked out ok.

Lare's picture

Good point. As I've said before, if McCarthy had replaced Zook and brought in a younger OC (LaFleur?) instead of Philbin last year, we'd probably have made the playoffs and he'd still be HC of the Packers.

Oppy's picture

The simple answer to all the officiating woes we fans suffer through is to take away fan views of replays and specifically slow-motion instant replays.

It's not that officiating has become worse over the years, it's that fans now see every play from 20 different angles in high definition in super slow-motion replay. It's far easier to make a call from your couch with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight than to make a call in real time on the field of play.

Ezra's Hotdog's picture

I agree, but that cat has been running loose for awhile now and may not be easily caught and stuffed back in the bag.

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