Daryl Johnston: People took jobs with the AAF because we were misled

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Daryl “Moose” Johnston, the former Cowboys fullback and current FOX commentator, also had a side gig as the General Manager of the San Antonio franchise in the Alliance of American Football. That did not end well.

Johnston told ESPN Radio in San Antonio that he and others who worked for the AAF were “misled” about the long-term viability of the league. Johnston said he and others in the league were assured that there was a solid business plan in place that would keep the AAF viable for at least two years. Instead, it lasted two months.

“There were several people who took jobs with the Alliance because they were told they had two years, and they’re in a very difficult spot now at this stage. This was something that caught me totally by surprise,” Johnston said.

Johnston said he feels terrible that he put his name behind a franchise that is now stiffing contractors.

“There are multiple businesses in the San Antonio area that are still awaiting payments and will probably have to go into the legal process to get that resolved,” Johnston said. “That is extremely disappointing to me.”

Johnston said AAF co-founder Bill Polian called him while the team was practicing and told him to immediately shut down the practice, because the AAF had collapsed so suddenly that if a player got hurt on the practice field, his medical expenses wouldn’t even be covered.

“You’ve got to shut practice down,” Johnston said Polian told him. “In case anybody gets hurt, we don’t know who’s going to be responsible.”

Polian, co-founder Charlie Ebersol and AAF chairman Tom Dundon still haven’t offered a satisfactory explanation of why the league fell apart so quickly. Asked who’s to blame for all that, Johnston answered, “I don’t know yet, and I don’t know if we ever really will.”

45 responses to “Daryl Johnston: People took jobs with the AAF because we were misled

  1. Look, people took jobs with the AAF because they didn’t have better options for employment. How many fake football leagues have to fold before people realize this isn’t working?

  2. Dundon has no integrity and this is a huge shot to Polian’s credibility going forward.

    I’m hopeful (and it seems) the XFL is financially viable and can showcase a quality product.

  3. I dont know who to blame but everyone sure seems to think its Bill Polian. Where is Charlie and Toms share of the blame? Does Charlie even exist still lol…

  4. Moose, you only “took” that job because Jerry Jones had a under the table deal with the mayor of the city. Jerry helped get the logistics in order for the team, in turn they had to hire you as GM. Someone who has never worked in personnel before. It was the talk of the league.

  5. I still don’t know why they just closed up shop when they were a few weeks away from completing their first season. If they just made it through the first season they would have had 6+ months to find investors, negotiate with the NFL, etc. Instead they just shut it down. Kind of makes it seem like that was Tom Dundon’s plan all along.

  6. Broadcasting it on the NFL Network ONLY wasn’t a very wise move, either. Professional football’s success is completely driven by, and utterly dependent upon, TV money… and yet, these geniuses kept people from watching it by hiding it on a pay network. I grew up in one of the cities that had a team and I would have liked to have seen them play… but not enough to pay for the NFL Network.

  7. DJ has no business sense obviously ill prepared to run a football team like so many other former players that get thrown into jobs…he bought in cuz he got paid….

  8. ricko1112 says:
    April 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm
    Anything that snake, Bill Polian, is involved with is bound to be shady…
    _________________________________________________________________________

    I didn’t follow the AAF but wouldn’t Pollian have been more in charge of the football side of the business and Dundon the financial? Pollian constructed championships with the Bills and Colts. To call him a snake is not justified.

  9. I think the idea behind the AAF was a great one. Having basically a training league for the NFL to provides players that were not quite NFL ready a place to refine their skills was a great idea. It was also a place to train referees and front office personnel. But, every start up operations has to proper funding. That funding has to take you threw at least the first year, and maybe a year and a half, or 2 years. I should know I was a partner in a start up consulting company.

    That firm had 6 partners and a silent partner who put up all the funding. When we found out where that money came from, we told the silent partner to take a hike. 3 of the partners dropped out almost immediately. We had already had a management contract to manage a small airport. We struggled for 3 years hoping to secure more funding. It never happened. Had we had proper funding from the start, that consulting we have probably survived. The idea behind the company was good one.

    The AAF wanted to start this season to get a jump on the proposed XFL. For whatever reason, the AAF didn’t have the funding and the man they turned to didn’t have the same vision the league founders had. When he didn’t see a way to get what he wanted in the time frame he wanted, he pulled the plug with a few weeks left in the season and left everybody out in the cold. He left everybody associated with the AAF with a bad taste in their mouths.

    Moral of the story, you need proper funding for any start up any business. You need funding for a minimum of a year and a solid business plan. Without proper funding, you are wasting your time.

  10. Springtime football has a lot of competition with the beginning of MLB, the NBA, NHL, and NCAA Basketball going on. The NBA and NHL have each started their playoff season and there just isn’t a lot of interest in no-name football. There were a lot of lessons to be learned from the USFL and XFL and the World League/NFL Europe…United Football League and all. Spring time Football just isn’t going to work.
    The USFL before it folded, came to that conclusion and would have gone to a fall league had they survived their lawsuit. The XFL 2.0 should take notice of this….and work out an agreement with the NFL

  11. Charlie Dundon and #45 in the Oval Office will forever be linked as two people who single handedly killed off two football leagues .

  12. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    April 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm
    Broadcasting it on the NFL Network ONLY wasn’t a very wise move, either. Professional football’s success is completely driven by, and utterly dependent upon, TV money… and yet, these geniuses kept people from watching it by hiding it on a pay network. I grew up in one of the cities that had a team and I would have liked to have seen them play… but not enough to pay for the NFL Network.
    __________________________

    Only 2 of the 4 games each week wee on the NFL Network. Games were also broadcast on TNT, CBS and CBSSN so you didn’t try all that hard to watch.

  13. The NFL missed an opportunity with this league. Move the draft back to one week after the NCAA tournament finishes, have the AAF open camps the next week, and start playing first week of May for 8 weeks. Could even have the championship on July 4th (you know start a tradition).

    Fills the really terrible summer sports gap and gives teams a chance to see some of these guys in a pro style offense and how they act with some money in their pockets.

  14. #1 – check to see how much the top AAF executives were paying themselves.

    #2 – regardless of how great a long term plan is, if the fan-base/revenue doesn’t come to fruition then none of the business plan is worthy anything.

    #3 – look at who was hired as coaches and to lead front offices. Just like the players, these guys are 3rd/4th string personnel who either couldn’t make it in the NFL or got ridden out. What else did you expect to happen? Most of them collected a paycheck where otherwise they’d be unemployed.

  15. bleedredwhiteandblue66 says:
    April 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm
    ricko1112 says:
    April 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm
    Anything that snake, Bill Polian, is involved with is bound to be shady…
    _________________________________________________________________________

    I didn’t follow the AAF but wouldn’t Pollian have been more in charge of the football side of the business and Dundon the financial? Pollian constructed championships with the Bills and Colts. To call him a snake is not justified.
    —————-
    No, it is certainly justified. When the Colts’ Charmin soft offense couldn’t compete against the smash mouth defenses of NE and the Titans, Polian championed the rule changes that make even eye contact by the defensive backs a penalty. Thus we have “illegal contact.” He also helped force the movement of the umpire (twice) to help Manning. He forced rule changes to suit what the Colts were good at. He hurt every team not named “Colts.” Snake through and through…

  16. Cry me a river!
    EVERYONE knew there were risks…startups are funny like that.
    Yet YOU (Moose) and others CHOSE to take the risk anyway. Now that the AAF went bad, suddenly you’re a “victim”?
    No. You took a risk and got burned.
    Such is life.

  17. I didn’t follow the AAF but wouldn’t Pollian have been more in charge of the football side of the business and Dundon the financial? Pollian constructed championships with the Bills and Colts. To call him a snake is not justified.

    _____

    Polian is one of the most over rated NFL exec’s there is. The Bills never won a championship, they got slapped around in 4 straight SB’s. He rode Mannings coat-tails to those SB’s, yet still only won one.

    And as an NFL pundit hes wrong more than hes right.

  18. This should set a precedent for everyone in America. Get a job that doesn’t hold up to your expectations? Litigate! Entitlement for everyone at the expense of others.

  19. With any type of business venture your product better be as good or better than your competitor or you will fail.You can have all the financial planning, business planning, etc. etc. in place but no customer means no future. Even if you watched any of the games(which I did not) were you excited about the next game coming up? Or was it like eating at a “new restaurant” and leaving unimpressed?
    2 years, they said 2 years… Talk about job security.

  20. I actually believe it takes courage to take a chance and try to do something new. Moose should be given props for taking the risk, however, not just Mooose, or the players, but as Polian alluded to earlier in his response,the entire league’s employees were the victims.

    Turns out that the one person whom the league depended on, was looking for instant returns on his investment. This rarely occurs, unless you have a product everyone wants. If you have a product that everyone has access to already (NFL), you have build up loyalty.

    The money folks/sponsors/investors (call them anything but businessmen) in this venture acted dishonorably and had no fortitude to see this through. Very sad reflection of society here.

    From a business perspective, it should have been a consortium of investors, or they should had had individual owners. This spreads the risk across many parties. Banks do this everyday in business.

    Too many former former athletes involved, and not enough people with business acumen. Easy to be naive, but that is not the crime here.

  21. springfb_&_Eagle_Nester says: Too many former former athletes involved, and not enough people with business acumen. Easy to be naive, but that is not the crime here.
    ——————————————————————————————–

    Do you know how many NFL players left their universities with business degrees and have graduate degrees in business/marketing? A lot. The issue is here is you can’t develop a league to combat the NFL. It’s impossible to push a product that’s equivalent. You either have to fall in line or get lost.

  22. All this negative talk about the AAF and the crazy thing is a team like Orlando drew larger crowds than the Florida Marlins, an MLB team.

    Vast sections of empty seats are okay for baseball but somehow not for football. It’s a double standard.

  23. Doolin Danger says:
    April 15, 2019 at 10:40 am
    All this negative talk about the AAF and the crazy thing is a team like Orlando drew larger crowds than the Florida Marlins, an MLB team.
    Vast sections of empty seats are okay for baseball but somehow not for football. It’s a double standard.
    ————————————————————————————————–
    I suppose one difference is baseball has 80 home games while football has what, 8 at most? 8 chances to see your team vs. 80 it would seem you might, maybe, be able to put a lot of fanny’s in the seats at a football game. So yes it is a bad look for a football crowd vs. baseball.

  24. You took a job with a startup, and you’re shocked it didn’t work out?

    As if we needed further evidence how detached you guys are from reality?

  25. The AAF was never going to be a money-maker. There is not an adequate demand for minor-league sports. See: NBA, NHL, MLB. They all have minor league systems that barely scrape by, and no you won’t see them televised anytime soon.

  26. The only explanation is everybody involved was either corrupt or financial idiots. Some of them probably both. Why would anybody invest in the first place knowing they couldn’t make it past the second game before the money ran out? And why would Dundon give them several million after Week 2 when it should have been totally apparent at that time that it wasn’t enough to get them through the first season? How does somebody with Polian’s’ background sign on knowing nothing about the finances? And how do places like UCF let a startup league do a “bill me later” plan without getting any money at all upfront? It’s all baffling.

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