We are only fifteen days into spring and the once promising American Alliance of Football has already suspended its football operations. Eight weeks into its ten week season and we are without football once again until the fall. I’m guessing this is not what founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian had in mind when creating the league. In what now appears to be a hostile takeover, the likes of which would make Gordon Gekko blush, controlling owner Thomas Dundon has left the league and the public speculating as to why this decision was made.
A Little Background
After the first week of the AAF season, rumors began swrilling that the league was already in financial troubles. It was during this period that entrepreneur and owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes franchise, Thomas Dundon would be investing $250 million to ease the financial troubles of the upstart league. According to a quote from Reuters.com a spokesperson for Dundon stated “The AAF is off to an exciting start as a league and was founded on some truly unique and groundbreaking concepts”.
The AAF debuted on national TV with a reported 2.9 million viewers. It is truly a massive failure that they were not able to make it work out. As the story unfolds in the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what lead to Dundon’s decision. Rumors are swirling that Dundon may have been interested in the technology created by the AAF such as the phone application that allows to follow players movements live on the field. The fact the league put itself into a position where it needed emergency funding after only one week of play is disturbing to hear. When you are talking about a business such as a new football league that requires large amounts of capital investment it seems like you’d want to have funding secured.
There has been speculation that the lack of commitment from the NFL and NFLPA to provide players on developmental contracts lead to the decision to suspend play. This logic seems extremely flawed and the domain of the “spin zone”. I think it will be weeks and weeks before we truly learn what transpired behind closed doors. It is hard for me to believe someone as intelligent as Bill Polian would have not fully vetted the viability of the league before agreeing to help run it. It seems foolish to demand support from the NFL without even full season to show the effectiveness of the upstart spring league.
As of writing this post, the AAF has not released any official press release. The closest thing is a tweet reading “Effective immediately, all AAF players are authorized to sign with NFL Clubs”. The lack of silence seems to indicate not for anyone to get their hopes up for a return next spring. Some players have already taken the opportunity to sign with the NFL. Standout WR, Rashad Ross has signed with the Carolina Panthers and CB Keith Reaser has signed with the Kanas City Chiefs. The AAF may have been first to market when it came to creating a spring football league, but it may seem that Vince McMahon’s XFL may be the Bud Fox to Thomas Dundon’s role as Gordon Gekko. Hey, Thomas! I hope that app pays off for you down the road!
The AAF gave us exciting football to watch during the late winter and very early spring. Hopefully the league has not soured everyone on the promise of spring football. There is no such thing as too much football. The AAF and its Starter branded merchandise will be the butt of jokes for years to come, feeling like an Wal-Mart exclusive brand leaving us all with a cheap, empty feeling after consuming it.
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