AAF may not make it beyond this weekend

AP

It’s true that the Alliance of American Football may not make it to Year 2. It’s also true that the AAF may not make it to Final Four weekend.

Per a source with knowledge of the league’s plans, games will be played this weekend, Week Eight of the inaugural season. Beyond this weekend, however, it’s entirely possible that the plug will be pulled.

The problem arises from the upstart league’s inability to come to an agreement that would result in certain NFL players being available to the AAF. The NFL is willing to allow players who sign “futures” contracts after the conclusion of a given season to play in the AAF. The NFL Players Association has not yet agreed to the terms of what would amount to a modification of the labor deal between the NFL and the players’ union.

Modification of the labor deal is needed in large part because players who are loaned by NFL teams to the AAF would need protection against serious injury suffered while playing in the developmental league. As the source explained it, those players would receive the same payment that a practice squad player receives if he suffers a season-ending injury. Players also would receive extra compensation from the AAF for games played there, but not necessarily the full salary that gets paid to AAF players with no NFL connection.

An agreement, if one were to be reached, also would allow players under “futures” contracts to play in the XFL, given the obvious antitrust ramifications that flow from allowing NFL players to play only in the AAF and not in what will be its top competitor.

Absent a deal between the NFL and the NFLPA, AAF majority owner Tom Dundon quite possibly will choose to stop funding the league. This would force the league either to find another investor who would keep it afloat (like the league did when it tracked down Dundon) or go out of business.

It’s not the first existential threat the AAF has faced this season. As a different source with knowledge of the courtship of Dundon to buy controlling interest in the league has told PFT, the AAF was “done” before Dundon signed on. If he now signs off, the AAF may indeed be out of business.

And that would truly be a shame. Beyond providing game reps for would-be NFL players who otherwise get none, the AAF gives opportunities to coaches, coordinators, executives, officials, and more. There’s currently talk of ensuring that even more former NFL players would get more of the AAF assistant coaching positions, if the league survives.

For now, underscore the word “if.” Dundon’s comments to USA Today were not posturing or grandstanding. Without a mechanism for using NFL players in its 2020 season, the AAF may not make it to the end of its 2019 season.

70 responses to “AAF may not make it beyond this weekend

  1. Sounds like he is just trying to get out of his deal. I dont think finding nfl practice squad players in future will make a difference. Just like there will be more practice players and drafted players this year there will also be players who are cut and wash out looking to play.

  2. The AAF is a great league. DON’T LET IT DIE! There are many good signs. Look at how the Alamodome is filled. Look at how the product has improved from week 1. Many milllions are tuning in to the Alliance of American Football

    EXPAND OR MERGE WITH THE XFL. KEEP PLAYING AAF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Every AAF game is broadcast on NFL Network, either live or replay. League ain’t gonna let it lock up IMO.

  4. Here’s what I don’t get. A rich guy who knows business I assume put a lot of money into this business after a small bit of operating history. I would argue that he could easily and accurately project the revenues and expenses and ROI. The only real variable I would think is ticket sales, and I would also think week 1 would be the high mark or thereabouts. He knew this was a loser yet he invested. I can only think he thought he could grow it and sell high, and missed miserably.

  5. When are Ebersol or Polian going to make a statement about the status of the AAF? This is extremely disheartening. I almost feel as if Dundon is doing the same thing Trump did with the USFL, but on a different level. The NFL doesn’t need the AAF, but has afforded it exposure via NFL Network (I’m sure they’re being paid by the AAF for the right to do so), and has acknowledged/provided news of the new league on their site. Your business plan never started out with, “work with us or else we’ll pack up and go home”. Why is it that way now?

  6. Which NFL players do they want available for the AAF? Practice Squad players? Beyond that, I can’t really think of why they *need* anyone from the NFL. For that matter, they shouldn’t *need* practice squad players, either. Want and need are different things.

    The AAF has been better than I imagined it probably would be. I have been bullish on it, but this sounds like someone up in the front office is having a hissy fit for no reason. Is the AAF trying to make up for lack of Bell/Brown drama in recent headlines?

  7. Too bad, the NFL could really use a developmental league. It would end crap like colleges having to pay players under the table or letting them attend fake classes to procure good football talent. The players that think they are good enough to be professionals and want to dedicate themselves to that craft can just skip attending college altogether, if they choose, and go play in a developmental league to focus on football and not pretend to care about their degree.

  8. Will whoever wins the Powerball tonight, please step up and fund the AAF? It’s been fun to watch and a nice change of pace from the wussified NFL.

  9. I’ve never seen a league put out a great product and get positive reviews and they themselves constantly shoot themselves in the foot via comments they make to the media about funding. This league is good and should survive and my honest suggestion would be for the XFL to immediately negotiate with them to merge and simply create one NFL offseason league that is financially secure. Seems like an easy fix if they can get together and negotiate it. As for the NFL and its players union, make it work as its a huge benefit for your players and the league.

  10. Would be a shame if the league went under.

    Depending on one guy to finance the league seemed like a bad idea from the time they announced it a few weeks ago.

    The league could also attract more fans to games by lowering the prices a bit. I looked at some tix for the Atlanta team and $30 was the cheapest they were selling in terms of direct box office purchase.

    While the games are not great football, the games I have seen have been for the most part entertaining. Plus it’s good to see some football during the spring for those of us who have little interest in basketball.

  11. What I want to know is how could this league have ever gotten off the ground if the were so financially weak they had to get a bail out less than a month into the season? With guys football minds like Bill Pokian and a tv exec like Charlie Ebersol, how the hell did they think this league would fly when they couldn’t mke payroll after only a few games? It sounds like the AAF was doomed before it started

  12. That’s a shame. I went to a San Diego Fleet game and had a great time. More mellow atmosphere perfect for families and good(not great football) for a reasonable price. As a Charger fan who lost his team due to the Spanos family greed, I hope the AAF stays.

  13. Manziel told Singletary we’re gonna wreck this league together. Who knew it would only take a couple weeks. It needs the NFL backing it to stand a chance.

  14. Where are the Doug Fluties and Warren Moons around to save this league? Without leagues like this they would have never had the NFL opportunity. They need to give back, pay it forward.

  15. Not a surprise current NFL players under contract won’t be allowed to play. Too much can happen.

  16. I watched the first weekend. Game was on over the air TV and easy to find. It was watchable for a Saturday night at 9pm. I don’t have $200 worth of TV bills and not gonna start to watch football.

  17. threestepdrop says:

    March 27, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Here’s what I don’t get. A rich guy who knows business I assume put a lot of money into this business after a small bit of operating history. I would argue that he could easily and accurately project the revenues and expenses and ROI. The only real variable I would think is ticket sales, and I would also think week 1 would be the high mark or thereabouts. He knew this was a loser yet he invested. I can only think he thought he could grow it and sell high, and missed miserably.
    ——–
    For the most part your correct but what he really saw his investment as is the technology which he still will sell high. The league itself he knew was a loss but now he’s doing what he can to try to recoup money out of it but really his main concern is being able to sell the technology they use.

  18. I hope the AAF pulls through. I think most of the people involved (not just the players and coaches) want it to, as well. But I can see several arguments as to why the obvious people who should want it to succeed would not care if it fell apart.

    The NFL-by broadcasting games and lending their Network talent, they’ve built a plausible case against monopoly claims that could arise in the future from upstart leagues that may be more hostile-such as the XFL, whose owner has been hostile in the past (and whose current iteration, though much milder, has expressed a desire to bring back traditional football). More importantly, it weakens a potential argument that the NFLPA might use in some future legal proceeding, if the NFLPA wanted to claim its clients have no other place to seek employment due to the NFL’s monopoly status. The NFL gets to validate its argument that it is not a monopoly by basically pointing to the AAFL and say, “We don’t get in the way of other leagues. In fact, we even try to support them.”

    Charlie Ebersol and the developers of the AAFL football app-When the AAFL launched, they had a television special (on NBC Sports, I believe, but I could be wrong) where Erbersol and the lead developer for the Alliance’s game app talked about the technology they had created. In fact, most of the special seemed focused on the app and its utility for fantasy…and possibly implied utility for betting. By having season with actual games to demonstrate the app’s capabilities, Ebersol now has a proven product that he can sell to the NFL or to fantasy/betting sites, or alternatively has a database he can sell information from to these parties. In addition, the microchip in the pigskin and Sky Judge and other technology might be more valuable than the league is, if Ebersol can get the NFL interested enough to buy.

    I’m not saying that these things are true necessarily, but I do think that it is possible that the league has progressed in a way that makes these scenarios possible. Even if the NFL and Ebersol completely and totally want the AAFL to succeed, I do not doubt that these considerations play into future decision making regarding the league.

  19. An agreement, if one were to be reached, also would allow players under “futures” contracts to play in the XFL, given the obvious antitrust ramifications that flow from allowing NFL players to play only in the AAF and not in what will be its top competitor.
    ———

    That doesn’t really make any sense. MLB affiliates with certain minor leagues and only allows players under contract to play for affiliated teams. There are many unaffiliated minor leagues that operate independently that have no access to players under contract with MLB teams.

    Why would this be different?

  20. There are already several AAF teams that are better than certain NFL bottom feeders. Keep playing.

  21. i have watched a lot of the AAF games and have enjoyed them. I even DVR’d one the other day that I haven’t had a chance to watch yet. My only drawback has been the ugly uniforms.

  22. How , on earth could they have started this League, knowing that this would be a major impasse going forward ?…They had to have known… up front, that they would be running into a major player recruitment problem sans NFL linkage…db

  23. There is absolutely no way that the NFL will farm out bench players to any “minor league” team:

    1. Where’s the financial interest for the owners? Why would they want to promote the league by loaning out their assets (bench players) for free? Also promising practice squad players could be lost. I don’t see the NFL owners backing this league.

    2. Football is punishing enough, even if a bench player was to start games in an alternate league, his chances of holding up as an NFL starter afterwards has to be pretty low. Injuries are a part of the NFL, meaning that today’s bench player is tomorrow’s starter. The NFL players themselves complain wear and tear of the preseason, how’re they supposed to play minor league ball, then go through the rigors of a preseason, season, and possibly playoffs? I don’t see the NFLPA backing this league.

  24. Sad to say this won’t be the 1st upstart league to fail and it won’t be the last. I remember the WFL..the USFL…the World league…the XFL..even Arena football. America LOVES football!

  25. The NFL Network needs programming 6 months out of the year. Besides the draft what else does it offer?

    The problem with minor league football is, well, minor league football. Unless these games are broadcast on NBC/CBS/FOX/ABC at best the AAF is hiding out on cable (hey, there is always the new Apple TV thingy). My weekends are taken. Broadcast this on a Friday/Saturday night.

    On second thought, it’s spring time, it’s baseball season.

  26. The leagues been great. Perfect for the offseason, just needs more NFL talent to train there.

    Be very sad if the league folds. Been very polished

  27. Here’s an idea, why won’t the NFL just buy the AAFL and set these conditions for players. If the NFL took ownership of this league it would probably become a much more popular league, in which more money would be pouring in, and thus they could play these players while protecting the NFL team who owns the rights…

  28. The hockey guy who invested millions two weeks into the season isn’t looking overly bright right now.

  29. Why does minor league Baseball work but minor league Football doesn’t? I’m telling you it’s because it’s played in the spring and not the fall. This league needs to be in the fall and work with (but not against) the NFL’s schedule. The NFL gives you games on Monday and Thursday and people watch. Friday is for High School and Saturday for College – So put this league (or any minor league football league) on a Tuesday or Wednesday and it will pull better numbers than a mid-season NBA game on TNT.

    The spring is for MLB and March Madness and the NBA Playoffs – Not for football.

  30. Why can’t it be a stand-alone league? 3 teams had their attendance over the weekend, TNT picked up another game, TV viewership beats MLS and MLS has a $90mil tv contract. Why wouldn’t the AAF be able to secure something like that?

    If their main objective isn’t being a developmental league, they could start the season after March Madness. Maybe get rid of poorly supported teams that are competing for attention with NBA/NHL/MLS/MLB teams.

    I watched most of these guys in college and I’ve enjoyed watching them in the AAF. It really seemed like things were going well. Guess we’ll find out before the weekend.

  31. Here’s a thought.

    Did they try to secure a partnership with the NFL before starting the AAF season, or even before announcing the league for that matter? If they were so dependent on that happening for the league to operate successfully, well as Florio would say, it seems they put the cart before the horse with this one.

    It’s a shame, really.

  32. Doolin Danger says:
    March 28, 2019 at 9:33 am
    Why does minor league Baseball work but minor league Football doesn’t? I’m telling you it’s because it’s played in the spring and not the fall. This league needs to be in the fall and work with (but not against) the NFL’s schedule. The NFL gives you games on Monday and Thursday and people watch. Friday is for High School and Saturday for College – So put this league (or any minor league football league) on a Tuesday or Wednesday and it will pull better numbers than a mid-season NBA game on TNT.

    The spring is for MLB and March Madness and the NBA Playoffs – Not for football.

    ———————-

    Reason a development league works in baseball is because you can play baseball much longer in your life. Football isn’t a game where you can bring a 28 year old in and have lots of good years left. If you do 3 years of development football you have taken 3 years off your career and most careers in football don’t last that long. Football and baseball are totally different.

  33. Ask eminem to invest and let him move a team to Detroit. He was just tweeting about it last week and is a fan.

  34. realitypolice says:
    March 28, 2019 at 8:29 am
    An agreement, if one were to be reached, also would allow players under “futures” contracts to play in the XFL, given the obvious antitrust ramifications that flow from allowing NFL players to play only in the AAF and not in what will be its top competitor.
    ———

    That doesn’t really make any sense. MLB affiliates with certain minor leagues and only allows players under contract to play for affiliated teams. There are many unaffiliated minor leagues that operate independently that have no access to players under contract with MLB teams.

    Why would this be different?

    —————

    if you look at injury rates and length of careers you will see why football is different.

  35. So, now the players’ union gets to determine what we watch during the NFL offseason? Yeah, makes sense. They don’t have enough power yet. Geez!!!!

  36. Which NFL players do they want available for the AAF? Practice Squad players? Beyond that, I can’t really think of why they *need* anyone from the NFL. For that matter, they shouldn’t *need* practice squad players, either. Want and need are different things.

    The AAF has been better than I imagined it probably would be. I have been bullish on it, but this sounds like someone up in the front office is having a hissy fit for no reason. Is the AAF trying to make up for lack of Bell/Brown drama in recent headlines?
    _________________________________________________________

    The issue at hand is two fold. First, they want to be the developmental league to the NFL. That was their stated goal all along. By hitching their wagon to that, they are trying to become the place where roster bubble guys come to make a name for themselves and earn their way in to the NFL. This also affords some amount of name recognition. You watch an AAF game now and you recognize like 2 names per roster. They want people watching to go , oh yeah wasnt that the preseason star for the Rams last year? Or, I remember that guy from training camp last summer, lets see what he can do. With teams sending players down for training and some minorly recognizable names and maybe even a future NFL HC job hire comes more NFL support. Funding, more advertising, more promotion which brings in more dollars.

    The Second part of it is, there is a significant talent problem in the AAF, just like the NFL, at certain positions, namely QB. The AAF wants access to those #3 or practice squad QBs to develop into potential stars for the league instead of having to rely on the poor name recognition and “washout” status that now comes with Christian Hackenberg, Matt Sims, Josh Woodrum and Aaron Murray. Same goes for the OL and DL players. Any quality on the market is locked up on practice squads and as third stringers. If they can improve the quality of the product on the field, more people will watch.

  37. BuckyBadger says:
    March 28, 2019 at 11:46 am
    realitypolice says:
    March 28, 2019 at 8:29 am
    An agreement, if one were to be reached, also would allow players under “futures” contracts to play in the XFL, given the obvious antitrust ramifications that flow from allowing NFL players to play only in the AAF and not in what will be its top competitor.
    ———

    That doesn’t really make any sense. MLB affiliates with certain minor leagues and only allows players under contract to play for affiliated teams. There are many unaffiliated minor leagues that operate independently that have no access to players under contract with MLB teams.

    Why would this be different?

    —————

    if you look at injury rates and length of careers you will see why football is different.

    I don’t think you understood what I was trying to say. My point had nothing whatsoever to do with injuries or career lengths. I was commenting on the idea that if the NFL allowed players to play in the AAF, they would also have to allow them to play in the XFL. I’m saying I don’t think that’s true because baseball picks and chooses what minor league organizations get their players and which don’t.

    I guess you just saw “MLB” in my original comment and assumed I was comparing football to baseball. I really wasn’t.

  38. That would be a shame. I’ve enjoyed watching AAF games.

    But it’s not surprising, given how they’re running the thing. Tickets are crazy expensive, like $150 for 30-yard-line seats. They should be $25. Fill up the stadium, sell tons of concessions and make it an event.

  39. Thats sad. I have enjoyed watching the games especially the sunday night game. Has definitely filled the NFL void. Better than NBA or MLB. Games have improved each week as offenses starting to gel. I think its a better watch than college football.

  40. weepingjebus says:
    March 28, 2019 at 8:34 am
    There are already several AAF teams that are better than certain NFL bottom feeders. Keep playing.

    YOU’RE OUT OF YOUR MIND

  41. Why should the NFL care about the AAF when we all know college football is their football factory?

  42. It would be a “shame”? You just spent the past few weeks practically mocking the idea of the AAF. And it’s a good idea.

  43. nyneal says:March 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Why should the NFL care about the AAF when we all know college football is their football factory?
    ==============================
    Because there’s a time limit of eligibility for college. What happens to players who were injured their last year of eligibility and missed the training camps? Late bloomers (Kurt Warner), wrong circumstances, etc. This is very short sided if the NFL doesn’t invest in one of the two leagues as a “minor league”.

  44. I love the AAF, I hope they survive.

    JK, just checking the censorship of this site, to see if they are only letting positive messages about the AAF through, because everything that is realistic or negative is blocked.

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