Monday, July 22, 2019
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Column: Alliance offers entertainment, intrigue in Week 1

In America, there is clearly an appetite for more football. Why else would the NFL combinations, draft and mini-camps receive almost as much attention as regular seasonal or even playoff games in other sports?

When the Super Bowl is over, there's also a pretty empty gap, and the next NFL contests to watch out for, if you're really interested in show games, start in August.

Calling spring football, if it's below freezing in so many cities, could be a misunderstanding, but whatever you describe it, what the Alliance of American Football featured on its debut weekend America was impressive. Well, impressive enough to expect continued attention and even anticipation in the remaining two and a half months of the first season.

"We're feeling pretty good this morning," Alliance co-founder Charlie Ebersol told archys on Monday. "We're pleasantly surprised One of the things I said a lot in March last year was good football, no matter what happened on opening day, with ratings and ratings … Two things that really surprised us were the quality of the game All Four games and the launch of our digital platform: The number of engagements was far beyond our expectations.

"We were pleasantly surprised that people not only wanted to see football as an alternative, but were looking for a new way to deal with it, and we started scratching that scratch a bit."

Bill Polian, Managing Director of Ebersol and Hall of Fame, responsible for all football activities, worked just nine months to get the alliance rolling. This may seem like a rush, but the product on the field was sloppy at times and definitely slower than the NFL brand, but was observable. In fact, for the most part it was entertaining, and the opportunities for the league and its players are fascinating.

Enough of the country felt it too: A rating of CBS's Saturday's 2.1 and CBS stakes for San Diego in San Antonio should not be ridiculed, especially if an NBA game on ABC had a similarly large audience. As Ebersol noted, digital participation was strong. Soon, betting lines will come out of Las Vegas.

The alliance consists of eight teams – the others are located in Birmingham, Alabama. Memphis, Tennessee; Orlando Florida; Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Tempe, Arizona, next to Phoenix – are not fooling themselves and trying not to fool the fans with the caliber of the game. Almost all of the nation's best footballers are in the NFL. Ebersol and Polian say otherwise.

They are wise and accurate in insisting that there are hundreds of other quality players who are still looking for their shots at a great time. If the Alliance helps develop a talent pipeline for the big boys, it's a valuable thing. A necessary thing, really.

Spectators and fans in the stadiums should recognize this and the athletes of the Alliance should see what they are: guys who are eager to explain their case as a football player. They all believe that the next step is the NFL and that this three-month season can catapult them there.

"It was the extraordinary effort that was expected," said Polian, who has been building championship teams in the NFL for three decades. "These are guys who are looking for ways to show what they can do, they knew that America and the NFL were watching all season, they gave you everything they had, and I think that will move on safely. "

Polian noticed that after week 1 he received congratulations from many people in the NFL.

"They said it looked great, it was a real football, more than a few people said that, and they saw no gimmicks," he said, adding with a laugh of special. "

With Steve Spurrier training in Orlando, that's a given.

"What they saw was real professional football, with a capital P."


AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson from San Diego contributed to this report.



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