Dunlap: New Football League Long Shot To Succeed

Colin Dunlap
March 21, 2018 - 1:16 pm

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know. I don’t think this thing stands much of a chance.

I could be wrong, but the guess here is it might be a pretty short-lived life for The Alliance of American Football.

The United Football League, the USFL, Major League Football and a few others were adventurous enough to try their hand at this.

All failed. And failed miserably. Miserably and quickly. 

The Alliance of American Football, in my opinion, will meet a similar demise --- even as it has the backing of former Steelers Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian and TV whiz Charlie Ebersol.

It is expected to start play Feb. 9, 2019 --- not coincidentally just after the Super Bowl. There will be eight teams in cities that haven’t been announced yet, a 10-week regular season and some quirky rules here and there but the game, for the most part, will resemble the National Football League’s product.

And therein lies the problem. No one can compete with the NFL, even if this Alliance of American Football really isn’t trying to or it isn’t the intention, no one can compete with the NFL.

Here’s why: The NFL, even with some declining viewership numbers, still has that hub audience that seemingly will always carry it made of diehards who root for their home team and then people who have a decent interest in the game but are fueled mostly by a gambling quotient --- even if it is simply their fantasy football team.

I’m not seeing the Alliance of American Football being able to capture either one of those audiences. Instead, it feels like a league that will pull in people who feel the need to watch more football just after the entire NFL season has just been played.

I don’t know about you, but after Super Bowl Sunday, I kind of go into shutdown mode for a little bit and am footballed out for a while.

So who will be the fans for The Alliance of American Football? I’m thinking diehard football fans, people who feel the need to watch a live game when there is one on no matter who is playing. But, really, how many of those fans are there? Also, I’m guessing the league will expect a spike in interest from the fans in the cities in which the teams are located. That said, until they are unveiled, aren’t we to expect teams will be in cities such as Harrisburg or Erie or Evansville or Omaha? How much of a television --- or attendance --- spike could be gained by having teams in places like that, as it doesn’t seem to make sense to have teams in current NFL cities.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking a team wouldn’t work in Pittsburgh or cities of the such because it simply wouldn’t garner enough interest as people only have so much expendable income and save it to spend on all things for the “real” team, you know, the NFL team.   

As far as a gambling quotient, it is obvious the NFL realizes a huge windfall in interest because of fantasy football. People who would not otherwise ever be interested in the game tune in or at least keep tabs because of their fantasy team and a vested interest, however big or small.

Are you seeing people clamor to take part in The Alliance of American Football fantasy leagues? Sorry, I’m just not. Hardcore gamblers will bet on the games in the league, but then again, hardcore gamblers will bet on a snail race in Liberia if they can get a line on it from someone.

Without a fantasy football attachment and grip, I’m not seeing this thing really take off.

In fact, in looking at it in totality, it’s a huge uphill battle for The Alliance of American Football, just as it has been for any other league not named the NFL. Sadly, I think, before it even starts, it is headed for a certain ending. A quick one.