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Mon, Oct. 14

Williams: We hoped this day wouldn’t come

Whether on a personal or national basis, we have faced tragedies before. Part of living life is losing treasured things that make life worth living. Many of us have lost beloved family members as individuals. As a country, we’ve fatefully lost presidents before their time and have suffered reversals that have forced us to reconsider our most closely-held values.

It is at this time that we must step aside from the daily frenzy to look deeply within ourselves. It might well be a day for black arm bands and tearfully bowed heads, but it may also offer a glimmer of promise for better days ahead.

Against a backdrop of great personal agony, I pass along news that the American Alliance of Football League may be folding. In truth, it has only suspended operations, but the writing is on the wall, or more appropriately, the chalk is on the locker room blackboard that the league’s jock and chin straps may soon be hung up forever.

I remember those early days way back in February of 2019. I was ecstatic with the news of a brand-new professional league that would take the field. It contained only eight teams at the beginning, but before long, it would become a robust participant in the rapidly evolving American sports culture.

Then something went wrong. Very wrong. There has been significant concern about the major investor, Tom Dundon, who originally committed $250 million to finance the league. Although TV ratings for games already played have been “respectable,” investor Dundon pulled the plug on the league after nine games of an expected 10-game inaugural season. And he did so against the wishes of co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. Dundon pointed to the NFL Players’ Association as the problem. The American Alliance of Football League, as a proposed farm team for the National Football League, was depending on borrowing third- and fourth-string players from the NFL. These were players who wouldn’t see much playing time, if any, in the NFL. So far, the Players’ Association has not agreed to do so.

Speaking just for myself, I’m supportive of any serious new professional football league. I believe we have a serious under supply of professional football here even though we have more than in any other country. I know of at least three other people right here in Chino Valley who agree with me on this issue. In addition to the four of us, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former New York Giant Justin Tuck — and rules expert Mike Pereira — were involved in starting up the league. So, they obviously agree.

So, here’s what I think we should do. Everyone in Chino Valley who cries out plaintively for more professional football should write me an email. I’ll collect the thousands of responses I get and send them … to someone else. Write to your Congress person, too. And your clergy person. It wouldn’t hurt to write to your grocery store produce person, either. The more persons, the better. This will be a genuine grass-roots campaign, people. I can feel the swell of some great force even as I scribble these words. I think we can change national policy here. Or at least decisions regarding keeping eight football teams on the gridiron.

If we are successful with this campaign, we might just end up with a football stadium and a Chino Valley NFL franchise as I discussed in a January column of this year.

To comment on this column and/or to send in your plea for more football, email wilaugust46@gmail.com.

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