Steve Spurrier might be the biggest name in the AAF. Getty Images
Pro football hasn't been gone for long and we have the newest incarnation hitting our television screens this weekend. Now, they might have benefited from waiting until the post-NFL feelings of depression really set in but they are here and these are questions we need to have answered.
Can the rule changes make that much of a difference?
No more kickoffs is a welcome addition. The NFL kickoff has been watered down and rarely is it worth more than a few extra yards. Forcing teams to go for two instead of extra points will be awesome. The play clock is five seconds shorter and the onside kick is convoluted but it in involves the running of an offensive play instead of kicking the ball.
The goal here is to get the game shorter and this, along with less commercials and fewer TV timeouts, should help. The goal is a broadcast that runs two and a half hours and they should achieve that. Knowing football won't stretch into nearly four hour marathons is a nice notion. If the game stinks though, it won't matter how long it takes to play the game.
Will it look slow?
Inevitably the NFL is the fastest version of the game of football. They hit the hardest and the they move at top speed. Some big college games look fast but even a large portion of the college game looks slow compared to the worst NFL game. If this game is slow you will notice it.
The few weeks away would have done them good in this sense. Even with some former NFL talent on the field it is still going to be a drop off from the NFL. The speedy players will stand out and have a decent advantage over the others on the field. If the rules and styles of offense keep the game moving and hide the lack of speed they could have an appealing project.
Who will we recognize?
Well, we will recognize some names. There aren't a ton of NFL games played among the players of the league but there are some names you will recognize from their college success and bouncing around the NFL. The coaches have some star power associated with their names. Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Mike Martz (San Diego), and Mike Singletary (Memphis) will all be patrolling the sidelines.
Former Browns top pick Trent Richardson has plenty of name recognition as he plays for the Birmingham team. Matt Asiata was a frequent fantasy touchdown thief in the league. A few of Houston's finest Cougars will suit up in San Antonio with Greg Ward Jr., De'Marcus Ayers, and Kenneth Farrow all appearing as Commanders. Kennan Gilchrist and Kurtis Drummond are former Texans players who are on the team in San Antonio as well. Longtime NFL kicker Nick Novak will kick in this league as well.
The quarterbacks will be the most interesting names. Josh Johnson is fresh off his few weeks quarterbacking for the Redskins. Christian Hackenberg and Zach Mettenberger, he of J.J. Watt Selfiegate, battled it out to see who will take snaps for the team in Memphis. Former college standouts Aaron Murray and Trevor Knight are quarterbacks for the Atlanta and Arizona franchises respectively.
What will success look like?
I am not sure what the Alliance of American Football will deem success but this one seems a lot like the threshold test for obscenity in the landmark Jacobellis v. Ohio case from 1964: I know it when I see it.
It is really that simple. Almost from go we will know if this is a viable entity worth our time and eyeballs, and eventually our money for fantasy sports and gambling. If it isn't we will see right away. If the answers to the three previous questions are no, yes, and nobody then the league is doomed. They have big backing but no one likes to lose money. This opening week will catch plenty of eyes but after it isn't on CBS anymore and it is filtered to the various other ways to watch, will it hold up?
We will know when we see it. And I know we are going to see live football on our screens this weekend.
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!