With the news coming down of the Alliance of American Football league suspending operation and ending its inaugural season, it’s time to reflect on the season. When the news of a brand new football league starting broke, most assumed it was a league to compete with the NFL. However, that is not the case. This is and was a developmental league, made to get players an opportunity in the NFL. While there were games where the football looked sloppy, there were games where the plays made looked NFL ready. Here are the top plats from the AAF inaugural season.
AAF Season Top Plays
Week One of the Alliance season brought immediate fireworks. When the San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet opened up the inaugural season, no one knew what to expect. Just ask Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici. When he dropped back for early in the first quarter, he had no idea what was coming. Literally. Shaan Washington sent Bercovici back to Arizona State with this vicious hit. It has been dubbed “The Alliance hit heard around the world.”
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 10, 2019
Thankfully, even Bercovici can laugh at himself.
— Michael Bercovici (@MikeBerco) April 3, 2019
There were not many special teams touchdowns in the Alliance. This was because there were no kickoffs, eliminating chances for big returns, but also for player safety. However, San Antonio Commanders Greg Ward Jr. took a 79-yard punt return to pay dirt in their week six match-up with the Atlanta Legends. It was simply sensational.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 17, 2019
Week five might have been the best weekend for football in the Alliance around the league. Three of the four games were decided by less than four points. Week five also gave us one of the best individual defensive performances. Defensive back Kameron Kelly for the San Diego Fleet finished the game with three interceptions, including returning one for a touchdown in the Fleet win over the Stallions. His last interception was his best, not only because he was diving, but because of how quickly Kelly got on his feet and returned it for a touchdown.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 10, 2019
This was a tough category. There were some great catches week in and out, but when determining what the best catch was, it came down to a tie. One handed catches are great, but so are over the shoulder catches are pretty awesome, too. Arizona Hotshots receiver Rashad Ross and San Antonio Commanders receiver Mekale McKay take the crown for best catches.
What a catch by Rashad Ross!! pic.twitter.com/uoAtiAvK9m
— 69 (@ftbeard_17) February 11, 2019
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 24, 2019
This one was a no brainer. One of the smallest players in the league, Ja’Quan Gardner, rewrote Alliance record books with this run. In the Fleet’s week three win over the Commanders, Gardner took a handoff and sped past all of the Commanders’ defenders for an 83-yard touchdown run.
— San Diego Fleet (@AAFFleet) February 27, 2019
The best team in the AAF also had the best quarterback. This comes as no surprise. Quarterback play at any level decides good teams from great teams. Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert made a heck of a throw against the Memphis Express week three. While falling out of bounds, Gilbert is able to find his man downfield for a sensational touchdown throw.
— Orlando Apollos (@aafAPOLLOS) February 25, 2019
One specific moment stands out for this category. Sometimes in back yard football, the quarterback may flip the ball or pitch it backwards to avoid getting sacked or tackled. This is a social norm in “backyard football.” Notice the quotations around backyard. However, San Diego Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson must have had professional football and backyard football confused on this play.
This may be the craziest completion ever. pic.twitter.com/6Ilyd9Sysz
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 18, 2019
Even the king of no-look passes in the NFL had to join in the fun.
They’re throwing no-look passes in the AAF ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 18, 2019
The best finish came in the action-packed Week Five. The Salt Lake Stallions and San Diego Fleet easily played the top game of the Alliance football season. A thrilling game finished with a Fleet walk-off victory, the first at the time. The Fleet had the lead most of the game when the Stallions came roaring back in the fourth. Check out the highlights below.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 11, 2019
Hopefully, this is not the last we see of the Alliance. While the news seems final, these players and coaches deserve the right to finish out the season. A lot of these players are far away from home trying to live out a dream. The fans also invested in these teams and deserve to get the full season, just as the players and coaches do.
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