Don’t blame NFLPA for demise of AAF

AP

The sudden death spiral of the Alliance of American Football has been blamed, by some, on the unwillingness of the NFL Players Association to loan bottom-of-roster players to the upstart league. That’s a flawed argument.

The AAF failed not because it didn’t have access to NFL-caliber players but because it started its only season without enough money in the bank to finish its first season. Sure, Tom Dundon has tried to link his decision to stop paying the bills to the inability to borrow fringe NFL players in 2020. But would that have really made a difference?

The AAF still would have consisted of little-known at best and completely unknown at worst football players, and that’s not the way to get people to make a football league appointment viewing, especially during months that don’t overlap with traditional football season.

The fact that 15 AAF players already have been signed by NFL teams shows that plenty of guys fit to occupy spots on the back end of 90-man offseason rosters already were playing in the AAF. And it didn’t matter.

This doesn’t mean that Dundon didn’t subjectively and genuinely believe that a deal with the NFL was critical to the AAF’s survival. The more accurate reality, however, seems to be that the AAF wasn’t going to make it, regardless of whether 2020 rosters would have featured players who would have finished the 2019 NFL season on a practice squad.

30 responses to “Don’t blame NFLPA for demise of AAF

  1. In order for people to blame the NFLPA, they would have to actually care that the AAF went out of business. Best I can tell, nobody does….

  2. “But would that have really made a difference?”
    —————————-

    ABSOLUTELY YES. One Dundon got majority ownership of the AAF, he had the FINAL say on league matters, regardless of what other people think.

  3. Target NCAA players and PAY them. No NFL affiliation. Allow them to leave when/if the NFL is willing to draft them.

  4. “but because it started its only season without enough money in the bank to finish its first season.”
    ————————

    Ridiculous. That’s how EVERY business venture starts. Nobody sinks or commits millions of dollars without seeing the product working and meeting various targets. It’s called tranches and is NORMAL business investing. Investors will only inject more capital if goals are met, and for majority owner Dundon, it was securing the fringe NFL players as a development league.

  5. There was no buy in by fans because there was no player affiliation. If you don’t think people would watch how some of the players on their favorite teams would do I think you are wrong. NFL Europe was around for many years. The reason that it went under because people in Europe at that time didn’t care about football. If the teams played in smaller markets in the U.S. it would’ve been able to survive. Some great players came from that league like vinatieri. The NFLPA is run by idiots but so was the AAF so it seems like a perfect marriage. Too bad.

  6. thefiesty1 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    Unions ruin everything!

    You have to be really rich or really stupid to believe that. My guess is the latter

  7. The NFLPA doesn’t want a developmental league,period! Agree, leadership of that Union is terribly flawed, just a collection of ex ballers collecting a serious salary in the name of player representation!

  8. akira1971 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 3:19 pm
    “but because it started its only season without enough money in the bank to finish its first season.”
    ————————

    Ridiculous. That’s how EVERY business venture starts. Nobody sinks or commits millions of dollars without seeing the product working and meeting various targets. It’s called tranches and is NORMAL business investing. Investors will only inject more capital if goals are met, and for majority owner Dundon, it was securing the fringe NFL players as a development league.

    ————————

    Rare is the business that doesn’t lose money for several years before turning a profit. Pretty sure Amazon didn’t post a single profit for 15 years. You need money in the bank to make sure the business lasts long enough to see if it’ll survive or not. Without knowing more it’s impossible to say what happened. Perhaps Ebersol and Polian are far more incompetent than we already know and Dundon had no faith in their ability to make this happen once he saw what was really happening. Flaw on his end for leaping before he looked really.

  9. blaming the union is an easy way to suck stupid people into your corner

    there is literally zero logic going on here.

    what, the union was supposed to let it’s players leave a guaranteed money situation in the NFL, in order to go to the AAF where players are now out of a job and supposed to provide for their own healthcare/transportation costs??

  10. spartanlegend says:
    April 6, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    thefiesty1 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    Unions ruin everything!

    You have to be really rich or really stupid to believe that. My guess is the latter
    ———————————

    Detroit Michigan

  11. I don’t get it…no NFL caliber talent? There is NFL caliber talent in the NCAA. And doesn’t NFL talent imply they would be in the NFL? I find it hard to believe there aren’t guys coming out of college that aren’t boarder line NFL talent.

  12. Dundon wanted the aaf to get bought out by the nfl. The first step was get the players to buy into going to the aaf. Since they did not, he probably saw the nfl was not going to buy the league.

  13. Investors do many strange things for very different reasons. If I was going to try a start up football league, I would plan to use my money for a least a year before I would think about making a profit. I would have some long range goals in mind that I would have to meet and a few short range goals as a guide post to how I was doing in my long range goals. I wouldn’t thing about shutting it down with a few games left in my first season. To me that’s inexcusable. You don’t just walk away for your obligations for the teams, players, coaches, and league employees.

    To many times investors turn into bean counters. Look at Eddie Lampert with Sears Holding. Instead of building up stores to meet customers expectations, he shuts down stores that don’t make enough profit in his mind. He never updates his stores. I have to think that’s because he doesn’t want to spend necessary money to compete. You can’t build a national chain by shutting down a lot of stores. Hence Lampert and Sears Holdings keep filing bankruptcy.

    It looks like Tom Dundon is another bean counter. He should have finished the season, then reavaluated his his funding of the AAF. To me it makes him another scumbag like Lampert.

  14. Cleon Ross said:”
    There was no buy in by fans because there was no player affiliation. If you don’t think people would watch how some of the players on their favorite teams would do I think you are wrong. NFL Europe was around for many years. The reason that it went under because people in Europe at that time didn’t care about football. If the teams played in smaller markets in the U.S. it would’ve been able to survive. Some great players came from that league like vinatieri. The NFLPA is run by idiots but so was the AAF so it seems like a perfect marriage. Too bad.”

    ===

    The best name you can come up with is a kicker? LOL.

    Yeah, I want to invest my time in watching a start up league where a kicker can eventually make it to the NFL.

    If NFL Europe was a money maker it would probably still be in business. It was a bad idea from the start. It doesn’t matter how large of an audience there is, if the audience isn’t interested in the product.

    The same reason why having two NFL teams in Los Angeles is a bad idea. That is a huge market. They may jump on the bandwagon if the big thing is to see a winning team play, but I don’t think people are going to show up to watch a horrible team play.

    Spring football will never work in the U.S., there are too many other things to watch. Too many other things to do. It is spring. People who have been cooped up all winter want to go out and do things, not be stuck in the house watching a subpar version of the NFL.

  15. Cleon Ross says:
    April 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm
    ..NFL Europe was around for many years. The reason that it went under because people in Europe at that time didn’t care about football. If the teams played in smaller markets in the U.S. it would’ve been able to survive…
    ————–
    That’s absolutely NOT what happened. In fact you have it bass ackwards. I worked in London thru the World League and NFL Europe era, and went to ALL the games. The problem wasn’t European fans, who all loved the World League, the problem was the US fans lacked interest (despite most US teams being in smaller markets as you suggest). This lead NFL to renege on their World League 5yr promise after just 2yrs, but as the European side had been successful, they regurgitated it as NFL Europe a couple years later. The problem with that was it was lesser product (not a World League) and the teams got chopped around, some gone/new/moved, and then all changed yet again after just a few more years! Fans in Europe are used to teams staying put for 100+yrs so the majority gave up, digusted.

  16. You are using your “Lawyer Mind-Tricks” with this one a bit Florio, because you are not wrong. However, if the NFLPA was completely and immediately on board, it would have provided the AAF with essentially the tools for a “NFL Minor/developmental League”. That is obviously what Dundon was trying to invest in. When that was not going to happen, he predictably walked away.

  17. I always thought an agreement with the NFLPA was about access to free labor (or cheaper labor) rather than chasing some sort of premier players. If NFL teams are paying players already, the AAF would only have to pay minimal wages like a per diem. Without access to that cheap labor, the AAF was bleeding money.

  18. Or maybe that’s exactly what the NFLPA wants us to think……….

  19. Yeah, that really doesn’t make any sense. Those players won’t excite anyone and he knew they wouldn’t have them this year anyways. Sounds like an excuse.

  20. Correct about the money. Incorrect about the players. NCAA cycles through unknown players every year and they have arguably a larger following than the NFL. Baseball has a minor league full of unknown players and they don’t go out of business. No startup football league expects to make a profit in eight weeks. The problem is they didn’t have enough or the right investors to ride it out at least three years. Amazon, DirectTV and many other very successful businesses were unknown and didn’t make a profit for over a decade. The problem was a flawed business plan, not the content on the field or some back-channel deal with the NFL.

  21. what they needed, wanted, was buy in from the NFL. The goal from day 1 was to become the NFL’s developmental league. The easiest way to do that was to get the NFL to invest via players. Who the players were wasn’t important, they just needed the NFL to create the partnership. The owners weren’t going to go for it, so the backdoor method was to get buy-in from the NFLPA. NFLPA didn’t bite, so the grand experiment ended. (And why would they?)
    If they were smart they should have had the agents pressure the NFL.

    I suspect that if they’d gotten any kind of NFL support, the money would have been there.

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