- Ronald Cortes/AAF/Getty Images
- The first weekend of the Alliance of American Football was a solid success.
- The biggest highlight of the weekend was a huge quarterback hit from San Antonio Commanders linebacker Shaan Washington.
- It was the type of sack that would be illegal in the NFL.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) had a stellar inaugural weekend.
On Saturday, the debut game broadcast on CBS and reportedly posted better ratings than the NBA game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder that it was up against on ABC.
Fans might not have known what to expect from the secondary league, but, through four games, the AAF didn’t embarrass itself and even provided some pretty good football for those who had some post-Super Bowl cravings for the sport.
The biggest play of the weekend came from San Antonio Commanders linebacker Shaan Washington, who lit up San Diego Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici with a huge sack in the first quarter of one of the debut games.
Shaan Washington can BRING IT. pic.twitter.com/7VqYNk3DwD
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 10, 2019
It’s the type of hit that football fans haven’t seen allowed in some time, given the protection that is now provided to quarterbacks in the NFL.
Some astute Twitter observers were quick to point out the apparent differences between the leagues with how defenses can pursue opposing quarterbacks.
Here it is. AAF VS NFL. pic.twitter.com/vkt8kLkDgw
— Trash Talk NFL (@TrashTalkNFL) February 11, 2019
This video will undoubtedly be one of the main reasons this league will be here for good. A hit like this with no flag will bring in football fans from all walks of earth #TheAAF #JoinTheAlliance pic.twitter.com/q9DpusIdCR
— AAF Insider (@aafinsider) February 10, 2019
Overall, fans seemed thrilled with the play.
Me watching these hits in the AAF football game and not seeing any flags pic.twitter.com/pBOFTB19NK
— Connor Heatherly (@ConnorH51) February 10, 2019
Really enjoyed the debut of the AAF. I like the pace of play with the shorter play clock, these players are hungry for a shot or another shot at NFL, some new rules are intriguing, and it’s nice to see good hard hits not flagged. Look forward to more games.
— Mike Golic (@espngolic) February 10, 2019
OH MY GOD THE AAF LETS THEM HIT
— Mello (@melloesquire) February 10, 2019
This hit single handedly put AAF on the map!! https://t.co/ustI0KMhBR
— No Limits 26 ???????????????????? (@BrickByBrick_KS) February 10, 2019
The XFL, a defunct football league, branded itself as more hard-hitting, frantic, and gritty than mainstream professional football in an attempt to out-macho the NFL, but it failed after just one season.
In contrast, the AAF didn’t lean into big hits as a selling point and is not billing itself as a competitor of the NFL, but as a supplement to it, even partnering with the NFL Network for broadcasts.
Still, with quarterback hits not yet officiated out of existence in the AAF, plays such as Washington’s might be an unexpected attraction for the league.
With just one week on the books, it’s still far too early to tell whether or not the AAF will become a success, but the league is certainly off to a solid start.