AAF’s status mired in confusion, uncertainty

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The Alliance of American Football may or may not be in its final days.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the AAF currently is mired in confusion and uncertainty. And Monday’s comments from majority owner Tom Dundon, who rescued the league from potential implosion early in its inaugural season, have served only to make a confusing situation even more confusing for those operating the league.

Broadcast partners, including CBS, NFL Network, and TNT, are concerned that they’ll suddenly have gaping holes in their programming. CBS, for example, plans to televise a game between Memphis and San Antonio as the lead-in to its final four coverage on Saturday. There’s a chance there will be no game to televise.

Other partners of the AAF are concerned based on Dundon’s comments that the league will go belly up, leaving plenty of people holding the bag, financially and otherwise.

Still, Dundon has the power to walk away, if he chooses. Per the source, the current power structure of the league founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian doesn’t know what will happen if Dundon chooses to pull any ongoing funding.

It would be unfortunate to see the AAF disappear so close to the end of its first season. Apparently, it will take $20 million to push the league over the finish line for 2019. Ideally, the AAF would get through its championship game and then decide what to do for 2020.

Through it all, discussions continue between the AAF, the NFL, and the NFL Players Association regarding an arrangement that would result in bottom-of-roster NFL players being loaned to AAF franchises. Dundon believes this could save the league; others wonder whether having access to NFL players with low name recognition will be the silver bullet that Dundon seems to believe it will be.

Regardless, the situation remains precarious — and Dundon’s on-the-record remarks from Monday tend to make things more uncertain, not less.

66 responses to “AAF’s status mired in confusion, uncertainty

  1. It is too bad, enjoyed the league. I’d love to see the numbers on the books if the league really is bleeding cash that bad. Its confusing that Dundon would agree to invest 250 million and then walk away 6 weeks later. Since startups don’t normally make money, you’d wonder why Dundon would even invest.

  2. “Confusion, Uncertainty.” A clear recipe for success. Turn out the lights.

  3. Save the AAF. If they are that desperate for money, merge with the XFL. The Alliance of American Football has been great. It has made weekends that are normally dull exciting again. After the Super Bowl, it is a dull time. The AAF gave fans something to look forward to. Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian created the league. They need to do everything in thier power to keep it going. It take many years to create passionate fans bases. The NFL has been around for 100 years. One year isn’t nearly enough of a chance.

  4. Everybody thinks they want more football but really they don’t when it’s not the NFL or your college & HS programs. Minor league football only works professionally if it’s directly affiliated with the NFL team you cheer for.
    If the Ravens had a team that played in M&T stadium from May until two weeks prior to training camp, I would pay attention, heck even be a sucker a buy the team gear of that minor league team and go to at least 1 game a season.

    The only thing to compete with the NFL is to go the route of USFL or AFL and go get stars. People don’t want to watch forced professional talent. If the XFL pays for stars it has a chance, this attempt by AAF to force the NFL into a partnership is some real bad business.

  5. He just wants out of his commitment to pay. Probably doesnt want to spend anymore money now if league is toast after this year.

  6. Sounds like a power play towards the NFL to me. He knows Vince McMahon and XFL will be breathing down the NFL’s neck if a strike/lockout happens in 2020. McMahon is hoping for it. AAF knows XFL can take advantage of that and eat into NFL’s fan base. AAF wants more from NFL and this is his way of forcing the issue. They want access to lower-tier NFL talent and be the official NFL farm system. They know because of McMahon’s marketing strength and WWE ties (and a built in fan base) they don’t need NFL players.

  7. Going cable only was their first mistake. CBS broadcast week one 2 games then pushed everything else to the cbs cable channel, NFL network. These guys need sponsor money, but having the games on 3 cable and no over the air is dumb, they deserve it, I havent been able to watch it all season so I don’t much care…

  8. I don’t think anyone really thought it would last. It would be nice for a developmental league but they’re not going to get the attendance or ratings they need to make it work.

  9. I don’t think anyone really thought it would last. It would be nice for a developmental league but they’re not going to get the attendance or ratings they need to make it work.

  10. NFL could help them out some if they really wanted this to be a developmental league. Hell, $20 million to finish the season is only half of what Roger Goodell makes, and at least AAF has fans, unlike Goodell.

  11. Having low tier players from nfl teams would help. Cause every play hearing Johnson from the dolphins or patriots would keep viewers intrigued. And it would help me as a fan hearing a player from my team the bucs doing good. Man Johnson was going off in the aaf he might be a stud for the bucs. I could see how it would add intrigue to league. With every nfl fan who lets face it are on this site are die hards. Would love looking up stats and watching where there new team players rank. I think it’s a no brainer for the nfl. Your low level players are now becoming stars during the offseason and you will gain more fans. And vice versa for the aaf. Like the bucs they have Ryan griffin who has been on there roster for 5 years and never taken an nfl snap. He deserves to play in the aaf and see what the bucs have. He could end up being a super bowl mvp and it never would have happened if he didn’t play in this league.

  12. How could you decide to form a new football league without sufficient capital commitments to weather a few bad years? Those clowns barely made it past two games before they were out of cash and needed a new source of funds.

    Are the founders of the AAF really that clueless about running a startup business? It’s amateur hour.

  13. 1. How does a business like this get started, get so much support and not have proper funding in place to last a season?

    2. Let’s assume for a minute the NFLPA and NFL players agree to allow lower “tier” players to play in the AAF. Are they going to be ready to suit up and play before the season ends when they have not had a football practice since December?

    3. Vince McMahon is laughing his ass off somewhere

  14. From what i saw ratings were respectable (definitely not abysmal), the crowds were overall pretty good, and the buzz was good with increasing levels of interest, and they had a paying TV deal, and now it’s in danger and they need $20m? My big and obvious question is, what exactly was the AAF expecting to happen? what more success could they have had that would’ve kept them alive beyond one season, if what they did get was considered a colossal failure? no sense…

  15. It’s not the actual players he wants, it’s the co-branding with the NFL logo he’s after. The shield legitimizes the AAF making it more valuable. Without he has nothing and he knows it. AAF has potential, but it will take time and money to build fang interest and loyalty. He wants a jump start from the NFL, but they did not bring booster cables.

  16. Stop the bull crap. CBS acts like this programming is on the Mother Ship and it’s not. It’s not network. It’s network and the the CBS channel is in cable. What did they expect? These are good games with good teams. Great? NO? Getting better? YES. Child birth is painful. Raising a child is tough. If you make it work and the child walks out and become a great adult then that is tremendous. Now wake up and realize they monetize it. People want everything NOW. I hope Birkshire / Hathaway just steps in and buys the whole league and just says “WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD” and just stomps on the NFL. Don’t think it couldn’t happen. Mr. Buffet don’t play… but then again… maybe he does.

  17. I hope Vince McMahon is taking a good look at this unfolding debacle and closely evaluating just how well capitalized (or not) his XFL venture is.

    Why guys think they can start an entire football league under capitalized and on a shoestring budget is beyond me. There’s salaries for players, coaches, medical personnel and admin types, uniform expenses, venue rental fees, insurance, marketing costs and ten thousand other things. Who in their right mind looks at that and thinks “Eh, we’ve got enough money for the first couple weeks and we’ll figure the rest out later, we’re good.”

  18. Oh, no, how can the NFL Network possibly come up with three A Football Life replays to fill time if there’s no AAF game?

  19. This league began and has continued with all of the excitement of an 8th graduation ceremony. Vince McMahon will be the last man standing with a new football league.

  20. So who’s pocketing the money? You can’t tell me with low salaries, advertising and broadcast rights, all of it is operating costs.

  21. So let me get this straight. There whole business plan was to get the NFLPA to let players on the practice squad and rosters to come play in a league that had payroll problems from day one and was reliant on your participation to even succeed? So much wrong with their plan it isn’t even funny. Why did they think you can sell tickets for $70+ for even good seats? You have no player anyone wants to see until Manziel drank his way out of Canada. You need to pack the place with cheap seats $10 to $30 and give a break on concessions so they are buying stuff. Above all you need a product they will come back to. The NFL or NFLPA would never agree to send their players to a league so poorly put together.

  22. Interesting that Dundon went into this to begin with if he didnt think that the league could, at least, complete one full season…..I enjoy AAF and I hope that they find a way to continue….

  23. Just a dumb guy with some ideas, but here goes-

    Only way to save this is to go budget motel style and be more of a reality made for TV type of format —
    1. affiliate 10 players per team with an NFL franchise, have NFL develop 10 extra guys and give option for NFL to bring them into spring program after short season
    2. have these players wear team logos (big enough to see (of their NFL team)) on the shoulder ( this way people across the country have a reason to tune in) ,
    3. get out of NFL cities (atlanta,arizona),
    4. play in small stadiums ( HS, small college)
    5. next year start up the bye week between championship and SB.
    6. season needs to conclude 1st weekend of April, 6. 6game season then a championship game/season done.
    7. this league like all other spring football for TV won’t attract enough viewers

  24. As a business model…Nothing is making any sense.How could they start this League not knowing where they would get needed players ?…and… How could they be losing so much money that Dundon’s capital is not enough to bail them out through the first year? The accounting numbers we are not privy to and they would probably tell us the story.

  25. The AAF was and is banking on names from its league getting chances at the NFL level. The chances of that increase significantly if they get to use NFL practice squad and 3rd string players. With every one that goes to the NFL the AAF gets more name recognition and more interest as the place where these guys come from.

    More than that, having practice squad and 3rd string NFL players will hopefully give a bump to the level of play, particularly at QB, OL and DL.

    I imagine the AAFs ultimate setup would be to get access to rookie or first year QBs AND their QB coaches at the NFL level. Imagine San Diego drafts a 5th rounder to train up behind Rivers, he sits as third string for a year, then he and his QBs coach go to the fleet for the offseason. Suddenly, your late round QB is getting twice the development in a year with the same staff.

  26. As I’ve been saying from the beginning, the AAF was essentially Steve Jobs hyping up an empty shell of a PC that looks fancy on the surface in the hopes he’d be bought out by Apple (NFL). Bluff called, league fails.

    This may be news to some of you, because this site has blocked all negative realistic posts about what a farce this league was from day 1.

  27. Getting the players from the nfl is a nice-to-have, but it shouldn’t be a have-to-have. It’s a little disturbing to hear that this league was built with this supposition and yet no real agreement before starting play. Now you want to hold the burgeoning fans and the nfl hostage? Good luck with that.

  28. Well at least half the league created cool logos and uniforms. The Appollo…the Fleet…San Antonio look alot better than some current NFL teams….Tampa Bay and Cleveland come to mind

  29. How does borrowing NFL players help them get through the next few weeks? This seems like a negotiation-by-press conference strategy. This investor would not have put real money out there if there wasn’t a long term plan (unless he needed a write off). Does he think the NFL is scared of the AAF going away? That seems like his strategy if he is trying to raise the alarm on an issue that won’t be solved this season anyways. “Give us your prospects or we will go away”; I am sure everyone is shaking in their boots. Honestly, why publicize the demise of your investment when there are still games to be played?

  30. I honestly forgot this league even existed. What a dumpster fire, shut it down.

  31. Very few businesses turn a profit the first year yet the AAF’s plan was 100% reliant on that? To the degree they were in trouble by Week 2? According to what Dundon is saying they can’t even cover payroll which was a cost they set themselves and knew the exact number ahead of time. Either this was an all-time disaster of a business plan or their executives were pulling out Goodell-sized salaries for themselves. There’s simply no way they should have been so cash poor they couldn’t make it through a full season.

  32. Seems if you are starting a new league you would have prepared for 2 years of no profits from the get go.

    I don’t see how low level NFL players would mean much of anything for the leagues success.

    I think it would have had a better chance had it started after the NCAA – spring is a bit of a dead zone but people would be gearing up for NFL draft so there would be some football interest.

    I also think the marketing is awful. I don’t know when games are on and when I turn on the tv when a game is on, I spend the first 20 minutes trying to figure out what logo is on the helmets. Give something for people to root for and get behind. If the talent is sub-par, it should be sub par across the league.

    May also sound funny but I can’t stand the no extra point model. The scoring system that we’ve come accustomed to is off. It is like an old Bambino hand held football game I had (look it up). It didn’t have extra points so rather than 7-14 it would be 6-12. Just odd.

    So help fans connect to the game, make improvements to the experience and ride it out for a while.

  33. The crowds are soooo sparse. It’s almost like they should allow free attendance for the first year, just to get people in seats. You’re simply not going to make money in year 1. Accept it.

  34. They need to do a better job of marketing. I asked 3 people who are big NFL fans what they think about the AAF. They had no idea what I was talking about.

  35. Damned shame. It’s very short-sided of the NFL to not support this league as a “minor league”.

  36. The AAF and XFL should use Major League Soccer (MLS) as a model for forming a brand new league and learn from past mistakes. They had some committed owners with deep pockets who kept the league afloat in the early years. They started with low expectations and wanted to capitalize on the growth of soccer in this country after the World Cup here. MLS kept it low key for a number of years and now have started to explode with big attendance numbers and expansion.

    The two new football leagues just need to weather the storm and not be so quick to pull the plug.

  37. This is definitely bizarre. When the season started to all the fanfare with games on major networks and what looked like a reasonable plan to act as a feeder league to the NFL (including some very direct indirect support from the NFL itself) it seemed like they had finally figured out a viable model for springtime pro football.

    Then like two weeks later some guy has to throw them some $250 mil to keep them from crumbling, then a few weeks later that guy says that the league will go under unless the NFL lets the AAF use its players, and now they need $20 mil just to finish the season…

    What the hell happened?

  38. Leman Russ says:
    April 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    The looming specter of the XFL is driving the AAF towards extinction

    LOL. The XFL will follow the same path to dissolution.

  39. This guy sounds and acts like 80s Trump,he wants to be connected to the NFL so bad,he’s happy to ruin a league to do it.Let it grow naturally and see what happens,concerning NFL affiliation.You cant force it,we still might have a great spring league in the USFL,if Trump hadn’t had a boner for getting into the NFL.

  40. There was no mention of the AAF on any sports shows. The night games were on the NFL network yet I never heard any mention of the league on their shows.
    The product isn’t that bad and it seems that the NFL would want to promote this league. Instead of retaining players recovering from injury, this league could serve as a rehab stage as well as allowing marginal players to develop.
    I hope they find a way to save it.

  41. thetooloftools says:
    I hope Birkshire / Hathaway just steps in and buys the whole league and just says “WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD” and just stomps on the NFL. Don’t think it couldn’t happen. Mr. Buffet don’t play… but then again… maybe he does.
    lmao Berkshire is in the business of buying value companies..ie. great companies trading below their intrinsic value…the AAF has no intrinsic value…

  42. They just need to talk to the MoviePass marketing department. They somehow manage to keep finding people to invest!

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