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Column: Alliance provides entertainment, intrigue in Week 1

There clearly is an appetite in America for more football. Why else would the NFL combine, draft and minicamps get almost as much attention as regular-season or even playoff games in other sports?

There also is quite the gridiron void once the Super Bowl is over and the next NFL contests to pay attention to — if you really care about exhibition matches — kick off in August.

Calling it spring football when it’s below freezing in so many cities might be a misnomer, but no matter how you describe it, what the Alliance of American Football presented to America in its debut weekend was impressive. Well, impressive enough to warrant continued attention and even anticipation for the remaining 2½ months of its initial season.

“We’re feeling pretty good this morning,” Alliance co-founder Charlie Ebersol told The Associated Press on Monday. “We’re pleasantly surprised. One of the things I said a lot in March last year was, no matter what happened on opening day, with ratings and attendance, was good football. Two things that really surprised us were the quality of play across all four games, and the adoption of our digital platform. The engagement numbers were so far beyond anything we could have expected.

“We were pleasantly surprised that people not only wanted to see football in the alternative, but they were looking for a new way to engage with it. We started to scratch that itch a little bit.”

Ebersol and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who is in charge of the overall football operations, worked only nine months to get the Alliance rolling. That might seem like a rush job, but the product on the field, while sloppy at times and definitely slower than the NFL brand, was watchable. In fact, it was entertaining for the most part, and the possibilities

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/column-alliance-provides-entertainment-intrigue-in-week-1/505693542/

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