Football players no longer have to be in college or in the NFL to be showcased on ESPN and ABC. After becoming a minority owner in the AFL yesterday, ESPN plans to add Arena Football games to its Monday night lineup (starting after the NFL season is over, of course). At least 26 AFL games will be shown on the ABC family (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC) starting in 2007 [ESPN buys stake in Arena football].

Year-round football on Monday nights…just another way that the World Wide Leader in Sports is trying to take over the world. At the same time, this deal should bring even more prestige to a league that has been growing as of late (NBC coverage, EA Sports video game, etc) and will benefit players who cannot quite make it in the NFL. Deadspin pokes some fun at the ESPN purchase, but I think that this may be even better long-term than short-term for the AFL. The AFL has lingered around as Minor League Football for a while on a certain type of speed that did not come close to the XFL. ESPN may give the league even more legitimacy and further establish the AFL as something that will not disappear anytime soon.

For more information on the Arena Football league, check out a post I made on May 16, 2006: [Football Client not Ready for the NFL?].

Maybe ESPN will get lucky enough to catch another ref getting hit in the “wind mid-section” [YouTube – Arena Football: Ref gets taken down during TD celebration].

-Darren Heitner