Alliance of American Football, we hardly knew ye.
The upstart “developmental” gridiron league had some fanfare due to innovative rules and several familiar former NFL coaches, front office personnel, and players taking part in the AAF. It officially launched one week after Super Bowl 53, with the championship game for this eight-team league scheduled for April 27th.
Well on April 2nd, they ceased operations. This had been speculated on in recent weeks after the AAF wanted NFL practice squad players with futures contracts to be available to play in their league. The NFLPA wasn’t exactly in a cooperative mood, to say the least. Folding the league then became a distinct possibility in the aftermath of this news.
Perhaps the initial sign that the AAF was in trouble was when Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, invested $250 million to become the AAF’s majority owner and chariman after Week 1. Payroll was missed to kick off the season, but they pegged that on a system glitch instead of financial troubles. For example, here’s a sign of a company that’s totally not facing financial difficulties.
Source says AAF teams making players pay for their own flights home. What a clown show this was.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) April 2, 2019
I'm also told by multiple sources that some players around the AAF are indeed coming out of pocket for travel expenses to get home. A very unfortunate situation on an unfortunate day. https://t.co/V6uhQK1IGq— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) April 3, 2019
While TV ratings weren’t all that bad for what is clearly second-rate football, attendance figures for AAF were around a 10,000 average, which isn’t very good; they even moved the championship game from Las Vegas to Frisco, TX during the season.
Player contracts were a non-guaranteed three-years, $250,000 ($70,000 in year one, $80,000 in year two, and $100,000 in year three). Notable former Seattle Seahawks who played in the AAF included Terry Poole, Terence Garvin, and Damontre Moore. As much as it seemed inevitable AAF was not going to last long, it sucks for the players, vendors, and other staffers to essentially be abruptly unemployed like this.
In other news, who’s ready for the XFL to return in 2020? I’m sure that’ll work out well.