81 percent of AAF players have been under contract to NFL teams

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

So the Alliance of American Football launches in two hours, and you may be asking yourself whether you should watch the game that will be broadcast on CBS. (For most of the country, it’s San Antonio at San Diego.)

I’ll be watching Bohemian Rhapsody with family tonight, but I’ve set the DVR — something I didn’t plan to do as recently as Thursday. Which counts as progress, I suppose.

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For those of you who remain undecided, consider this: According to the AAF, 81 percent of the players on the league’s eight teams have been under contract to NFL teams. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ve played in NFL regular-season games; but they at least have worn an NFL helmet and participated in NFL practices and, for many of them, at least played in preseason games.

Consider the number of major college football programs, and how few NFL teams exist in comparison. There are plenty of guys who can play who never get the chance to show what they can do and/or develop better skills at the NFL level.

Having lower-level leagues is good for these platers, but not necessarily good for the guys who currently have spots on NFL rosters. Those extra practice and game reps could make plenty of the AAF (and, next year, XFL) players better suited to compete with guys who otherwise would keep NFL jobs.

That’s the one inescapable truth that gets forgotten whenever we root for a Hard Knocks underdog to make an NFL roster. For every upstart who makes it, someone else doesn’t. Still, if the idea is that competition leads to better quality, more football leads to enhanced competition leads to, in theory, an improved product.

And that’s the best case I can make for giving it a look. If the games aren’t interesting, if they aren’t presented in an intriguing and engaging way, and if they don’t produce highlights that make those who didn’t watch the games feel like they missed out on something, nothing I can say will allow any alternative pro football league to ever make it.

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