Photo Credit: The Ringer
After completing only 7 weeks of the scheduled 10-week regular season the Alliance of American Football ceased operations this past week leaving hundreds of players, coaches and support staff without jobs. While the AAF would never have been able to compete with the NFL for viewership and talent as the old USFL did in the 1980s, the AAF provided the NFL an opportunity to start a minor league system.
Football seems like a strange sport to have a minor league, but it makes complete sense.
Unlike baseball and basketball who have robust minor league systems to help young talent out of high school and college develop both physically and allow them to learn the nuances of the game at the next level, but in the NFL new draftees are physically prepared to play the game at that level because of the world-class strength and conditioning programs that Division I programs currently offer. What minor league football would provide is the opportunity for players to develop their skills and understand the professional game away from the bright lights and pressure of the NFL.
The AAF provided the NFL with experienced coaches, stadiums, and training staff that would have allowed for the easy conversion into a minor league. All the NFL and NFL Players Association had to do was form a partnership with the AAF and provide some funding for the league to operate through the rest of this first season and subsequently reorganize as a minor league in the offseason. Unfortunately, Roger Goodell was much happier keeping the NFL as is and not investing in an interesting and possibly profitable venture.
I would have loved to see guys who were drafted late or went undrafted fighting for a chance to make an NFL roster. Imagine Hardknocks every year with all the AAF teams. *Sigh*