The Alliance of American Football suspends operations
After less than one season (but still about a billion concussions), the Alliance of American Football suspended operations yesterday… for the time being.
The league kicked off in February shortly after the Super Bowl, the most recent of (too) many alt-football leagues to hit the turf in hopes of bringing America’s true love to overpriced curved TVs year round.
It seems the game-ending whistle hasn’t officially blown yet. But, according to a source close to the AAF, the pause will “probably” be indefinite.
So much for a development league…
At the center of the AAF’s timeout are negotiations between the league’s recently appointed controlling owner, Tom Dundon, and the NFLPA (the National Football League Players Association) last month.
From day one, the AAF described itself as a developmental league for the NFL. But the Players Association, on the other hand, denied Dundon’s request to use NFL practice squad players (the backups to backups) during the inferior league’s offseason.
That’s when Dundon first hinted at the harrowing Hail Mary
What’s odd is that the NFLPA’s decision wasn’t made on bad terms: The association merely declined (for now) due to the NFL’s strict collective bargaining rules — which hold a vice grip on all NFL player contracts.
Per the Action Network, Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian (the league’s co-founders) planned to build up the league for 3 years before becoming a pipeline for the NFL — but apparently Dundon grew impatient.
“If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” he told USA Today Sports in March. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”
Now the long bomb’s in the air, and everyone’s, uhhh… perplexed
We’ve seen this before: Every so often, some billionaire gets the itch to toss the pigskin and fumbles an attempt to launch a new football league.
But unlike the XFL — Vince McMahon’s disastrous rock ’em sock ’em sexy football league (returning to a biker bar near you in 2020) — the AAF’s audience actually seemed healthy (a consistent 400k-500k per game after a mammoth opening week).
According to reports, the AAF, its partners, and the NFL were dumbfounded because the negotiations were said to have been a win overall — now it’s lookin’ like game over.