AAF: How I chose my team
In all my years of following American sports as an English man, I have never had the opportunity to be there at the birth of an association.
It’s a special project that the American Alliance of Football have put together and to show how different it is off the bat, its title points to the addition by subtraction. There is no “league” in the name.
Leagues are owned, leagues have finance at their core and that means that in the end all the players are beholden to the league which really means they are employees for the owners and the owners run the show. No one is saying that AAF won’t seek to make a profit but there’s something pure about what they are looking to accomplish while doing so.
Funnily enough, the only other “league” in America where the players are given so much consideration is the National Basketball Association, again the word “league” is nowhere to be found. Sadly in the NBA it seems to have gone too far the wrong way. It’s great to have a union but once the union runs the show, things can go wrong pretty fast.
I hope that AAF have found an equilibrium here. Not to get too political but it is ironic that a country that prides itself on capitalism is showing all the hallmarks of socialism with how they are coming together in solidarity to achieve what is best all around.
Anyway with the introduction out-of-the-way, there’s only really one reason I would remain loyal to any team and that is the people who support them. I’ve been lucky enough to find a community in Columbus, Ohio. The people who support Columbus Crew will forever be number one in my eyes but there is no Columbus based team (smart move obviously as you’re not competing with the Buckeyes) so how do I pick my team?
Well let’s start with the arbitrary reasons
Why not eh?
Introductory videos (all available on YT on the AAF channel)
Arizona Hotshots – I swear I have nothing about this team but come on. The beginning of this video is so cheesy I thought I was watching a commercial for heartburn. Also excuse my ignorance but who are the two people featured on the video?
Orlando Apollos – the possibilities here were endless. It starts strong; “god of the sun, conqueror of the moon”, a shuttle launched into space and man walking on the moon. I like it. Then for some reason the least intimidating image of someone firing an arrow and then a few stock images of downtown Orlando and it fizzles. This one upsets me the most given what it could have been.
San Diego Fleet – We begin “Fire power, Teamwork, Ingenuity”. I can only imagine the creative team were watching How I Met Your Mother before they put this one together. “Linketivity, Connectitude, trasformatation.” It is saved from a lower ranking by the other two being worse and by the fact it actually mentions Football, has some nice rolling shots of the Navy and San Diego and says that Football is back in San Diego which is great.
Memphis Express – one of the more disappointing videos given how many incredible sights there are in Memphis but it isn’t terrible. Decent shot of Beale Street and BB Kings before it all goes wrong and shows a time-lapsed video of someone loading an airplane and a freight train. Extremely uninspiring for a city that brings to mind such great visuals. Oh and I’ll never forgive you for not going with a freight train logo and calling yourselves the Memphis Night Train, which would have been the greatest name in sports.
Atlanta Legends – Marked down for including well-known puppy botherer Michael Vick (offensive coordinator of the Legends with the emphasis on offensive), ATL trot out the Legendary events, players and people who call or called Atlanta home. From the ‘96 Olympics to Hank Aaron and Dr Martin Luther King, they make you want to be a part of something.
Birmingham Iron – like the uniforms it’s a no-nonsense approach from the Iron. A focus on the working class people of Alabama who provide “the foundation of America’s strength”. There’s nothing glamorous about this video, it’s a throwback to when “men were men” and a tip of the cap to those that still go out and earn an honest day’s pay for an honest week’s work. I’m off to not shave and drink beer, grrrr!
San Antonio Commanders – When you hear “Texas” you have a certain picture in your mind of what will come next, this video certainly does not disappoint on that score. From the military, to the wild west, to how San Antonio has been responsible for the defense of the realm for over 300 years. They certainly know their audience and on that score along they’d be number one.
Salt Lake Stallions – look horsies. Seriously though, there is something about the imagery of horses running across an open plain seemingly wild and free. It taps into that great American ideal of the frontier spirit and you want to add mountains, Lakes and snow to that? Great use of rhetorical questions and ended with “Wild and untamed like the land… the Stallions of Salt Lake City.” You had me at “How do we measure power?” ‘Murica, fuck yeah!
Arizona Hotshots – sorry but not my cup of tea at all. The color scheme is makes them look like the Green Bay Packers got into an altercation with an Oscar Meyer wiener. Respect to the firefighters of Arizona, but pass.
Atlanta Legends – I’m not sure why a team from Atlanta decided to go with what I can only assume Prince’s sleeping quarters was draped in. There may well be an American Football revolution in the ATL but it won’t be off the back of sales of this uni.
Memphis Express – Red and Blue are hardly complimentary at the best of times but as if that’s not bad enough you use a logo that screams “Jets”. All the incredible iconography of that wonderful city in Tennessee and you go for a cheap Met Life rip off? For shame.
Birmingham Iron – It seems poignant and ironic that a team from Alabama would be dressed all in black. It’s pretty slick, but at the same time just personal preference wise it’s a bit dull. Hopefully black was chosen deliberately as a progressive statement, I somehow doubt it but would be pleasantly surprised.
San Diego Fleet – now we are into the uniforms I like. Right off the bat, I should point out that I support Army in the Army Navy rivalry thanks to a friend from Columbus so I am doing my best to remain neutral here. The color scheme isn’t the best around but that logo is quality. It stands out a mile and while not my favorite, that leads to them getting the nod at.
Salt Lake Stallions – I prefer the Fleet’s logo when it comes to the helmets but not in general but what swings it is those Detroit Lion-esque color rush jerseys. They are cool and the only reason the Stallions didn’t make top 2 is because they let themselves down with the helmet design.
Orlando Apollos – It’s a strange one for me this because I don’t like the uniforms more than I do the Stallions. I prefer Salt Lake’s Detroit rip off more than I do Orlando’s disappointing Denver rip off but the one thing that is strong, unique, memorable and tips them over the edge is that Apollo logo.
When it comes down to it, that’s a great logo and it deserves acknowledgement. It’s a shame they didn’t put it on the uni itself or that the uni didn’t have a better color scheme. Overall though in a league that won’t be remembered for the start it made fashion wise, it’s enough to get my number two spot.
San Antonio Commanders – this isn’t even close. Yes red is my color given the teams I support but they’ve done their own theme on the red and it works. The two-tone with the grey reminds me of a play on Ohio State and that’s a winner for me. Taking away my previous team bias though, the reason that San Antonio wins hands down is that they have created the best helmet in American Football. I want to own one of these bad boys!
The logo is every bit as good as the Apollos but then you factor in how relevant it is to the city of San Antonio with the historic significance of the Alamo and you have a clear winner. The touch of the Alamo on the back of the helmet and the letters “SA” printed on the back just take it to another level. Hands down the best out there. Props to the SA marketing department, I absolutely love what you have done here.
Who the team are associated with is important to some people, given that Ohio State don’t feature I’m not too bothered. If you want to read more about who the teams are associated with then head over to https://lazyfansports.com/whos-your-aaf-team for Jordan Lombard’s excellent rundown.
So with all of this said, who are going to be my team? Special mention to the Apollos for their great logo and more importantly having Steve Spurrier as a coach whose innovative offensive schemes should be a joy to watch in this league but I’m going with the San Antonio Commanders.
Nowhere in the world is there more passion for American Football at all levels than in Texas and seeing San Antonio get a team is great. The Commanders is a name I like, they play in red which always helps and their marketing team blew it out of the water and as a writer, that really appealed to the creative side in me.
People will point to failures to make Football teams a success in San Antonio before, but that’s because they were up against the NFL and the Cowboys, this time they are working alongside them not to mention the Texans, Chiefs and Eagles.
Mike Riley wouldn’t be my first choice as coach, aside from anything else I think he’s too nice for a Texas team but time will tell. Having Hines Ward involved is only a huge plus also.
So there you have it, just in time for Saturday. Go Commanders, take command!