Football is Back? No, it Never Left!
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Wednesday, August 14, 2019
With the return of the NFL for its 100th season, it seems that everyone in sports media is joyously proclaiming that “Football is Back!” But that is simply not true. Yes, the NFL is back, but football itself has never gone anywhere.
When Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was over back on February 3, NFL fans went into their annual offseason funk for the next six months. It’s only natural to mourn the end of your favorite sports league’s season, but football continued to be played almost immediately in several different forms.
AAF – The Alliance of American Football debuted on February 9, the weekend after the Super Bowl. There were eight teams in Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Orlando, Arizona, San Diego, Salt Lake City and San Antonio. Almost every game was televised nationally and the quality of play was not too bad for a startup league. It had some different rules like no kickoffs and no extra-point kicks. Never mind the fact that the league died an untimely death in April after just eight games of a planned 10-game regular season. The fact remains that football continued without missing a weekend after the NFL was done for the season.
Indoor – Several indoor leagues like the Indoor Football League and Champions Indoor Football played the 50-yard indoor game across the country. The IFL season began on February 22 and the CIF season kicked off on March 24. Both leagues ended their respective seasons in July.
AFL – The Arena Football League kicked off its 32nd season on April 26. The AFL began back in 1987 and folded after the 2008 season. Its developmental league, called arenafootball2, continued to play in 2009. The af2 eventually purchased the assets of its parent league following the AFL filing for bankruptcy and the af2 rebranded itself the Arena Football League in 2010. It has been playing ever since. They had six teams this past season including two new teams; the Atlantic City Blackjacks and Columbus Destroyers. Their season came to an end this past weekend with the Albany Empire defeating the Philadelphia Soul 45-27 in ArenaBowl 32. The league is planning to add two more team in 2020.
CFL – The nine-team Canadian Football League has been around officially since 1958, but a number of teams can trace their histories back to the late 1800s. The CFL Draft was held this year on May 2, their two-game preseason kicked off on May 26 and the 18-game regular season began on June 13. The 107th Grey Cup championship game will be played on November 24 in Calgary. Teams are located in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, Calgary, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Edmonton and Winnipeg. All their games are available in the United States on ESPN + or the ESPN app. The CFL is looking to add a tenth team, the Atlantic Schooners, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2021.
Women’s Football – A number of women football leagues also played during the spring and summer. League like the United States Women’s Football League and the Women’s Football Alliance. The USWFL began play on March 30 and the WFA began on April 6. Both leagues crown champions in July.
XFL – 2020 will bring the return of the XFL, which played one season in 2001. The XFL season will kick off on February 8, the weekend after the Super Bowl in Miami. There will be eight teams in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Tampa Bay. It will once again be owned by Vince McMahon.
Wake up people! There is football being played all year long. Take off your NFL blinders and you will discover an entire world of football just waiting to be explored. You will find new teams, great players and exciting football action that will make the loss of the NFL for six months much more bearable. For a true football fan, there does not have to be a break in football action.