In the AAF, defensive lineman are teeing up quarterbacks. It’s a strange sight to see. Quarterbacks are losing their helmets and are lucky not to lose their limbs, and yet the officials’ flags stay in their pockets.
The AAF (Alliance of American Football), a new league for developmental prospects and second-chance players, boasts a significant rule change from the NFL. The AAF doesn’t coddle its quarterbacks in rulebook bubble wrap. The NFL has written up countless rules to prevent their quarterbacks from taking big hits or hits that might cause injuries. The AAF clearly hasn’t.
Here’s a look at quarterbacks getting lit up from the weekend.
When was the last time you saw a quarterback get hit like that?
This divergence from the NFL is all about value.
In the AAF, the quarterbacks don’t carry cache like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or even Sam Darnold. The teams have a no-star quality. The AAF’s best known quarterback might be Christian Hackenberg, and he’s well-known because of how bad he is. Ever heard of Mike Bercovici and Matt Simms? Didn’t think so. They are the slain quarterbacks shown above.
So the AAF will let the boys play and likely watch their quarterbacks suffer concussions and torn ACLs. Another quarterback will sub in at replacement level, roughly on-par with the starter.
It’s a throwback to the days of football’s past. But that begs the question of whether that’s a good thing. These players are desperate for another shot in the NFL, and they’re hoping their play in the AAF can propel them into the league. But for the quarterbacks — and really all players — that second chance could come at a significant physical cost. The NFL at least goes through the motions of protecting their players. The AAF seems to be selling a product where they will not do the same. This new league is operating with the understanding that their players aren’t very good or valuable as individuals. Instead, they may end up selling teams and leagues — not superstars. The shock factor was fun for football junkies, but it’s fair to wonder whether it’s sustainable.