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The Greyhound

How the AAF and XFL Could Thrive


Coming off the tail end of a lackluster Super Bowl and two conference championship games ruined by controversial calls, many football fans have been left dissatisfied with the current state of the NFL. Blown referee calls have ruined great games, and the disillusionment of fans in former NFL cities has increased with the upcoming move of the Oakland Raiders. Football fans are now experiencing the general emptiness that comes with the off-season.

Looking from the distance, the executives at the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and WWE CEO Vince McMahon must see these grievances as business opportunities. With the AAF kicking off on Feb. 9, and McMahon’s XFL expected kickoff in 2020, these new leagues must find ways to rival or match the NFL. There is no doubt that the NFL is a monopoly, so it would be near-impossible to rival or outclass a thriving business without government intervention. Instead, these leagues must learn to take advantage of the NFL’s weaknesses for their own corporate and financial gain.

Since 2016, three NFL franchises have moved — or are in the process of moving — out of their former cities. The Saint Louis Rams moved to Los Angeles along with the San Diego Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas by the 2020 season. Moving NFL franchises triggers animosity toward the league, hatred for the team owners, and disillusionment among former fans.

The AAF and XFL need to see this obvious business opportunity. The AAF has done a decent job with starting a team in San Diego, but the XFL has failed to exploit this weakness in the NFL juggernaut. Each of the current eight cities proposed by McMahon already have NFL franchises currently active or moving to them in the near future. This could spell disaster for the new XFL, especially if these NFL teams in McMahon’s proposed cities become extremely successful.

Arguments about “what is a tackle?”, “what is catch?”, or “what is ‘roughing the passer?’” constantly break out among sportscasters and fans alike. What the AAF and XFL can take advantage of here is simple: Make clear and straightforward rules about basic elements of football, such as tackling, making a catch, roughing the passer/kicker, touchdowns, and downs. By developing a clear and concise rulebook, the AAF and XFL can appeal to football fans discouraged with the NFL’s poor refereeing and confusing rulebooks.

Nothing like BottleGate or the blown pass interference in the NFC championship should happen in the AAF or XFL. If the AAF and XFL want to not only attract fans but also make a profit, these leagues need to learn to take advantage of the weaknesses and shortcomings of the NFL. If they fail to do this, they will go the way of the old XFL — Donald Trump’s USFL — and the disastrous World Football League, which is another footnote in sports history.

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How the AAF and XFL Could Thrive