NFL’s potential loaning of players to AAF could create legal problems

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The NFL probably needs to tread lightly.

A burgeoning affiliation with the Alliance of American Football seems to be moving toward an arrangement that would allow NFL teams to loan certain players to the AAF. But unless the NFL also is willing to loan those players to the XFL, things could get interesting. And possibly ugly.

Under the standard player contract, NFL players cannot play football in other leagues absent the written consent of their teams. So if the league directs the 32 teams to authorize certain players to play for the AAF but, at the same time, prohibits teams from authorizing any players to play for other leagues — like the XFL — that becomes a potential if not likely antitrust violation.

The league consists of 32 independent businesses. If the league directs these businesses to exercise their contractual rights in a certain way as to one alternative league and in another way as to a different alternative league, that’s a major problem.

Basically, the teams must decide independent of any arrangement with the league office whether to loan players to the AAF or the XFL. Any other approach could give the XFL an opening to pursue litigation.

Unless, of course, the NFL buys the AAF. Which would be the only way to have a direct, mandatory pipeline from NFL teams to AAF teams, at the exclusions of XFL teams.

12 responses to “NFL’s potential loaning of players to AAF could create legal problems

  1. Except according to the Sports Business Journal (Dec 14, 2018) XFL commissioner Luck stated the XFL won’t become a developmental league for the NFL, as doing so would diminish the XFL’s control over player allocation. They’ve specifically structured their contracts as single-season, allowing guys to move on to the NFL after. Clearly they are targeting FAs and the undrafted. And don’t want loaned players.

  2. It might take some negotiating with the union but why couldn’t the NFL follow what the NHL and AHL do. Both are independent leagues. NHL teams assign or loan players under contract to an AHL team. If the union was on board, I would think the NFL could do the same (or something similar).

  3. If anything is going to result in the NFL becoming entangled in a legal quagmire, rest assured the NFL will choose that path.

  4. This shows there are to many ways to Sue someone. To me if 3 Companies provide same services but 2 want to work together What/Why Should 3rd Have A Right To Be A Part Of It? As to NFL buying/being a partner of AAFL I doubt that would happen,since we know NFL Owners DON’T like to pay for developing non-stars/3rd String Players when it’s cheaper to keep drafting them in 5th-7th(NCAA Free Agents) Rnds yrly.

  5. Why on earth would any player, even taxi squad player, on an NFL Roster, want to go play in the AAF? So they can play even more games, have even more practices, doubling, tripling their risk of injury? The AAF doesn’t pay enough to warrant the risk, even for a bubble player.

  6. The NHL/AHL or NBA/G-league or MLB/MiLB all have those set ups of loan players/ flex players/ what-have-you players built into the CBA. If this is gonna happen, 1. the AAF is gonna have to last & 2. the owners will have to concede something to the players. Which we all know, isn’t gonna happen.
    It’s an AAF pipe dream & a smart business move putting this out there. Invest in league, build brand, sell to NFL, stay on in some executive capacity. This rumor came from an AAF guy, not an nfl guy.

  7. So you think the NFL wouldn’t change their by laws to allow teams to lend players to the AAF? The NFL is the only Major sports league in North America NOT to have a developmental system the way MLB and The NHL do. MLS does, too. Even the NBA has the G-League.

    So, why NOT have players from the practice squads or even the second string go to the AAF for further development? And why would it cause issues with the XFL? There’s nothing that says the NFL would have to do business with BOTH!

    Maybe the XFL can be a feeder league for the CFL.

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