Why else would the NFL combine, draft and minicamps get almost as much attention as regular-season or even playoff games in other sports?
There also is quite the gridiron void once the Super Bowl is over and the next NFL contests to pay attention to — if you really care about exhibition matches — kick off in August.
Calling it spring football when it’s below freezing in so many cities might be a misnomer, but no matter how you describe it, what the Alliance of American Football presented to America in its debut weekend was impressive.
One of the things I said a lot in March last year was, no matter what happened on opening day, with ratings and attendance, was good football.
Ebersol and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who is in charge of the overall football operations, worked only nine months to get the Alliance rolling.
The Alliance, which has eight teams — the others are in Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Tempe, Arizona, next door to Phoenix — isn’t fooling itself or trying to fool fans with the caliber of play.
The nation’s best football players nearly all are in the NFL.
Viewers and fans at the stadiums should recognize that, and see the Alliance athletes for what they are: guys eager to state their case as football players.
“They said it looked great, it was real football, more than a few guys said that, and they saw no gimmicks,” he said, adding with a laugh, “the only gimmicks are the once the coaches draw up, like the Orlando Special.”
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