McKay: We're Not Looking To Be A Developmental Football League

The Alliance of American Football wants to complement the NFL, not serve as a developmental league

The DA Show
March 28, 2018 - 12:41 pm

USA Today Images


J.K. McKay dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss the Alliance of American Football, a professional league slated to debut in February 2019. McKay will serve as Head of Football Operations for the AAF, which hopes to have a good relationship with the NFL but does not see itself as a developmental league for Roger Goodell and his 32 owners.

“We don’t want to be a developmental league,” McKay said on The DA Show. “Yes, are we looking for a good relationship with the NFL? Absolutely. I think we can be a complementary league to them, but to call us developmental – I don’t think that’s the way we see us. We see that we’re going to have the next-best players in the world, and some of them will actually be better maybe than players that got a chance.”

Better than NFL players? Really?

It’s possible.

“There’s a fine line between the guys that make it and don’t, and a lot of times the difference is they just never got an opportunity to play,” McKay said. “Some guys are better when they play in a game than they are when they run in a Combine or even at practice. So I think you’ll see guys in our league that all of a sudden get a chance to actually play, and I think there will be some eyes opened that say, ‘Wow, that guy’s better than I thought he was.’ So I think we’re a complementary league. We don’t see ourselves as a developmental league.”

Launching in February, which is when the NFL season ends, isn’t a coincidence. 

“I think there’s room for this league,” McKay said. “One thing that is important for the success of a spring football league is, first and foremost, the quality of play. We’ve got to put a good product on the field for our fans, and I think there are enough fans that want to watch football that time of year and don’t want to stop watching football as soon as the Super Bowl is over.”

McKay said that determining which cities will participate in the league is still a work in progress, but some of those cities may already have an NFL team.

“I think you’ll probably see a little bit of both,” he said. “We’re going to roll out those cities and head coaches over the next, I would say, eight weeks, starting in April. We’re a long way towards cutting deals with cities and with head coaches. We’ll be able to do that over the next eight weeks. I think you’ll probably see a mix of some teams where there might be an NFL team and others where there is not.”

Whether the league succeeds, of course, hinges on revenue. McKay said that attendance of 30,000 to 40,000 per game would be “a huge success" in 2019.

“It’s not going to turn a profit in year one,” McKay said. “It just isn’t. It takes time to build this thing, but I really, truly believe we can get that done.”

While the XFL has stated it will ban players with criminal records from participating in the league, the AAF plans on handling that on a case-by-case basis. 

“I think you got to look at it and say, ‘What was the problem? Is it something that we feel like a guy deserves a second chance?’” McKay said. “In many cases, yes. In some cases, no. So I honestly think the only way to deal with that is case-by-case."