The first weekend of the Alliance of American Football has come and gone, and the reviews are generally positive. The football is what it is — the bulk of the players haven’t played competitive football in more than a year, and they’ve only been playing together for a handful of weeks — but it should improve throughout the season. Elsewhere, everyone was clearly excited to be there, and it’s clear the league is being run by people who know what they’re doing.

The AAF also has one hallmark of all successful minor leagues: innovation. Remember, it was the popularity of the ABA that forced the NBA to adopt the 3-point line.

The AAF has multiple candidates for its own 3-point line. The kickoff and the PAT have been completely abolished. So has the onside kick, replaced by a 4th-and-12 play from the offense’s 28-yard line.

But perhaps the biggest innovation has nothing to do with the game itself.

The AAF put mics on a number of figures who don’t otherwise wear one on Saturdays or Sundays during the fall — coaches, quarterbacks and, as you saw above, replay officials. The latter was the biggest hit with viewers, for obvious reasons. Replay officials: they’re just like us!

And yet, in my view, that’s exactly why college football and the NFLĀ will not mic up their own replay officials. They want us to believe replay officials are the Wizard of Oz — all knowing oracles who have a superior understanding of the rule book, who can view every blade of grass, who know the players’ intentions better than they do. They’ll never pull back the curtain to reveal the Wizard of Oz is just a person, because, with all the money on the line — officially and, ahem, unofficially — with each FBS and NFL game, the Powers That Be need to believe the replay official is not human, but more than human.

At least, that’s my view on it. Hopefully I’m wrong.

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.