I'll admit, when I first heard about the AAFL, I was a bit skeptical. Though, it's hard not to be when you look at all of the different football leagues that have popped up and then folded throughout the years. However, the same was probably said about the AFL when they started, and look what that's become.
The more I read and hear about the league, and the more interaction that I have with the people working hard to make this league a reality, the more excited I get to see this thing kick off next spring. It's also made me hopeful that a number of former athletes will return to their former college or university to get their degree. Athletes like Eugene Gross.
Gross was a very successful running back for the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, starting at tailback all four years. Despite being able to run and catch the ball well(he holds the MTSU record of total receptions by a running back), he went undrafted following the completion of his senior season this past year. Gross views the AAFL as his way to continue playing football, but there's one problem. He doesn't hold the four year degree from his college that is required by the AAFL. So he's heading back to school to pick up the 13 credit hours he needs for his diploma so that he can continue playing the game he loves in a professional league.
Former MTSU running back Eugene Gross has an additional incentive to finish his degree. Gross wants to play in the new All-American Football League, but it requires players possess a four-year degree.
Gross, who recently earned his real estate license, lacks 13 credit hours to graduate with a bachelor's degree in sports psychology. The All-American Football League is set to start in 2008.
"I want to put the pads on again because I've still got the love for the game in me," said Gross, MTSU's all-time leader in receptions among running backs.
"My agent is trying to get a tryout set up for me, but I've got to focus on school so that I can graduate in December and keep playing."
And while getting fans to come to the games is a great indicator of the league's success, if they can motivate former student-athletes to go back to school to finish their degree requirements that might ultimately be the most successful aspect of it.