Prior to the professional football league’s inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football was met with criticism from many people around the country. Football fans aligned the AAF with past expansion league failures like Vince McMahon’s XFL back in 2001. Well, after an opening weekend of big hits, big plays and an overwhelmingly positive reception, the Alliance is here to stay.
One of the biggest games of the weekend came to Texas, where the San Antonio Commanders met the San Diego Fleet in a Western Conference matchup. Despite both teams struggling to find momentum — keep in mind that they’ve only been together for about one month — the Commanders’ defense shined in a 15-6 win in their first game. Not only that, but the Alamodome hosted 27,857 fans on Saturday night, which was the highest attendance of any home game on opening weekend.
Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol said the attendance around the league was “way above expectations,” and AAF co-founder Bill Polian, who famously built the Indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl winner, echoed the same sentiment after a super successful weekend.
“It was just a good scene,” San Antonio head coach Mike Riley said. “I knew this city would stand up and do a good job. It was really fun to play in front of them.”
The Commanders surprised most close to the team when quarterback Logan Woodside took the field for their first game. Many believed former West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan would lead the charge, but Riley called an audible to bring Woodside out to start the season. Woodside completed 18 of 36 passes for 255 yards and two interceptions in his first game and found his new favorite target early and often.
Former Cincinnati wide receiver Mekale McKay caught five passes for 80 yards and was targeted 12 times, the most of any player through the AAF’s first weekend. Running back Kenneth Farrow scored the game’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter while kicker Nick Rose was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts.
Despite the offensive struggles, it was the San Antonio defense that stole the show.
The Commanders picked off San Diego quarterback Mike Bercovici twice, then grabbed their third INT late in the game after Philip Nelson took over in the final quarter. San Antonio collected six sacks on the day, two of which came from linebacker Shaan Washington. The former Texas A&M Aggie, who had 20 sacks in his four-year college career, delivered the ultimate highlight on opening weekend to open the eyes of every football fan around the country that the AAF is for real.
San Antonio (1-0) hosts the Orlando Apollos (1-0) and head coach Steve Spurrier in Week Two at the Alamodome and will be aired on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. CT. Do yourself a favor and get some official San Antonio Commanders apparel because the AAF doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
With 20 players on the roster who played college football in the Lone Star State, the Commanders are poised to prove to the country, once again, that Texas football remains king.
Week 1 AAF Scores
Orlando Apollos 40, Atlanta Legends 6
Birmingham Iron 26, Memphis Express 0
Arizona Hotshots 38, Salt Lake Stallions 22