The Alliance of American Football has made no secret about its desire to be seen as a complement to the NFL.
Unveiled in March 2018, the league is looking to replace the former NFL Europe as a feeder system to American football’s most popular league and has avoided making radical rule changes so the game is still recognizeable to NFL fans.
But it was apparent Saturday in the AAF’s season debut that there is one big change that many NFL fans may be happy to see — less protection for the quarterback from being hit just like anyone else.
During the game between the San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet, quarterback Mike Bercovici took a five-step drop and had his eyes downfield when the Commanders’ Shaan Washington blitzed from the right side of the offense and simply teed off on Bercovici, knocking his helmet off.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 10, 2019
Both Bercovici’s helmet and the football went into the air at the same time as Washington delivered what was once considered a textbook tackle to the quarterback.
In today’s NFL, this play would have likely been a penalty as Washington would have been flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit, launching at an offensive player or unnecessary roughness.
Shaan Washington isn’t on an NFL roster but just was suspended three games
— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) February 10, 2019
But in the AAF, it was none of those and considered a legal hit. One of San Diego’s lineman recovered the fumble and the net result was a loss of 12 on the play for the Fleet.
An angle from behind Bercovici allows us to see what he didn’t see — and that was Washington coming right at him.
MY GOD pic.twitter.com/98FH9Zs3Iw
— nick (@nick_pants) February 10, 2019
The fact that this wasn’t a penalty delighted many old school football fans who miss plays like this in the NFL. A large segment of fans on social media praised the AAF for allowing hits like this without a penalty.
— Aidan (@JustSomeTexan13) February 10, 2019
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) February 10, 2019
Shaan Washington with the biggest hit in pro football all year. AAF off to a hot start.
— Deke Zucker (@Barstool_Quotes) February 10, 2019
As that hit indicated, defense set the tone in the Commanders-Fleet game as there was just one touchdown scored on the day as San Antonio won 15-6.
It wasn’t the most graceful football played as the quarterbacks combined for five interceptions and zero touchdowns.
But it serves as a nice alternative to the NFL and something to hold over fans during the offseason.
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