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.