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The AAF: Too Much of a Good Thing
The Super Bowl just happened. Do we really need more professional football? That's what the Alliance of American Football thinks. Don't know what the Alliance of American Football is? You're not alone. Until this week, I wasn't even sure exactly what AAF stood for. Maybe it's an insurance company, or a smaller branch of the military? I've seen "af" used as a sort of adverb/adjective hybrid modifier by illiterate posters on social media, as in, "Hard to prevent collisions on the runway as an air traffic controller when you're high af. lol." So maybe "AAF" was a new version of "af", like "absolutely as .." you know the rest. But getting back on track, AAF stands for, in this particular case, the Alliance of American Football. Initially, the AAF was touted by some as a patriotic rebuttal to the NFL, when the league wasn't acting against players kneeling during the national anthem. Even as someone who was particularly irritated by the kneeling scandal, I rolled my eyes at the thought of a new league being the answer to a lack of leadership from Goodell and the rest of the NFL brass. The kneeling controversy faded, the NFL regained some of its viewership, people argued about the Super Bowl halftime concert, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won another ring (at this point you think they'd have to start hanging them on carabiners like custodians do with keys). In other words, everything in the NFL was going back to normal. Up until this week, then, the AAF has mostly been an aafterthought. (See what I did there?) If the NFL was gaining some of its former glory back, why did we need more football? Because, as great as the NFL is, it stops in February! And we should have football year-round! Football in the mornin', football in the evenin', football at suppertime! Football football football football!! How many Americans actually want to watch football all year? The NFL regular season is 16 weeks long. That's already almost 1/3 of the year. Not including pre-season play, September through February (assuming you watch through the Super Bowl), is a long, long time. And that time is already (in my not-so-humble opinion) nearly over-saturated with football. I know it's the same amount of games being played, but with the big TV events of Sunday night and Thursday night football, it feels like a lot more games. Remember back when almost every football game was played on Sunday afternoon, and then there was one special prime time match up every week played on Monday night? It seemed so important and intentional. Now, I can't even remember the last network to carry Thursday Night Football. Maybe it was on Bravo! after all those shows featuring the wealthy pukes who have nothing better to do than sit around and complain about each other on camera. Or maybe it was TLC airing the Thursday night games, following their exploitation of morbidly obese people on "My 600-lb. Life". The point is, there's already a lot of football. And I, for one, as a somewhat casual fan, like the break between February and September. We need a chance to miss the teams; absence does, in fact, make the heart grow fonder. Too much football, like too many trips to Golden Corral, can be bad for the heart. (Just ask the people featured on "My 600-lb. Life".) I realize a lot of people disagree with me, and are more than happy to watch football year-round, especially in the South, where a lot of the AAF teams are based. It's also smart for the AAF, and to its advantage, to avoid competing with the NFL for viewership by starting their seasons after the Super Bowl. But the NFL is king because it's attracted people who aren't diehard fans. And those "casuals", like me, see the spring as a time for golf, baseball, track and field, cursing the IRS while preparing their taxes, pretty much anything but football. I don't want the AAF to fail. If it were cheap and a game was being held close by, I'd be willing to go check it out for myself. But I'm not going to make a road trip or pay for an extra streaming service just to try it out. Maybe the AAF will be a good minor league of sorts for the NFL (although we already have the SEC in college football), and enough people will want to watch to sustain it. But I, for one, am not going to give my time as a sports fan to the league. My TV time is already so limited (small kids are awesome, but they're like a free-time black hole in your life, demanding what can feel like just about every moment of your day), that I'm reluctant to risk it on a new pro sports endeavor. And most of all, I need that break in my life. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and football is a good thing, so I don't want to ruin it.
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craigcal56updated
LT was a GAME CHANGER
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mjlandmesserupdated
The True Genius of the NFL (Super Bowl LIII brief recap)
About ten days after what many have considered to be the most boring Super Bowl in recent memory, much talk has been made about Brady getting his 6th ring, Gurley being completely obsolete (for reasons unknown) and McVay’s genius being stymied. But true students and fans of the game will know the truest take away from Super Bowl LIII is that the true genius of the NFL resides somewhere inside the hooded sweatshirt of Bill Belichick. Now, he may not have been wearing that trademark, self-cut short-sleeve sweatshirt, but he proved once again that he is one of the best, if not the best, coach of all time. And how has he done that? By doing the thing that every analyst who has ever covered the Patriots says he will: take away his opponent’s best offensive option. I refrained from saying player, because this Super Bowl was strange in the fact that the Rams didn’t use their best offensive player. I’m not going to speculate on any mysterious injuries or whatever might have kept Gurley out (especially because the Rams have been adamant about Gurley being healthy), but the Rams didn’t use their number one option. Plain and simple. Todd Gurley had his second straight All-Pro year, rushing for over 1200 yards, and had 17 touchdowns in 14 games. In order to have any shot in this game, the Rams needed to rely heavily on the run, given that they were the number three rushing offense in the league during the regular season. Now, CJ Anderson is no scrub. Prior to this year where he bounced around between teams, he rushed for over 1000 yards on a bad Denver team. And in the playoffs, he rushed for 167 yards in two games. But they needed Gurley to be that All-Pro. And the glimpses of him on the sideline, watching as his team struggled to gain any momentum on offense, was difficult to watch. For all the brilliance of McVay’s offensive mind, he looked like a middle schooler that wandered into a calculus class. Yet, through all the dilemmas of the Rams offense, it really comes back to Belichick and the Patriots defense. Gurley or not, the emphasis for the Patriots was twofold: stop the run, and pressure Goff. That might sound obvious and creating a game-plan is easy to do from the locker room, but executing that game-plan in the biggest game of the year, maybe even these players’ lives, is a completely different animal. As for the carrying out of the game-plan, the undeniable presence of the Patriots’ defensive line was impressive to watch. Overall, the Patriots held the Rams to 62 yards on 3.4 yards per carry. And even more impressive, when the Rams tried to run to the left, where Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn reside, they only gained 18 yards. Speaking of Clayborn, he was a wrecking ball in the pass game too, with an average separation from the quarterback of 3.62 yards (league average is 4.49 yards). Continuing with the second part of their game-plan, my MVP Donta Hightower made Goff’s life a nightmare, with 2 sacks and an average of 3.93 yards from the quarterback. Goff was obviously confused on most drop-backs by the consistent pressure Belichick was able to get from his defense. There was one singular play which was a living embodiment of how Belichick’s defense completely took control of the game: Duron Harmon on a blitz made a beeline into Goff’s chest, which led to a Stephon Gilmore interception. This game was not pretty for the fans. It wasn’t the flashy performance of gunslinging offense that the NFL has promoted. But it was a perfect example of the Belichick way. He is going to beat you by taking away what you do best and force you to adapt. In McVay’s case, he may be a genius but…well let’s just say he’s no Doug Pederson. If you enjoyed this, have any suggestions or any topics you'd like to hear my thoughts on, reach out to me at mjlandmess@gmail.com
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