This may come as a shock, but it’s an expensive enterprise to run a sports league. That is especially so when the league itself is the owner of all of the teams, as is the case with the Alliance of American Football. In spite of the fact that there are some big names involved, such as Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol, they need investors to make this happen.
As we brought to you last week, they are at a critical point right now. After they lost one of their chief investors, they were able to find Tom Dundon, who described his investment as of long-term interest—but with a caveat.
Dundon, as does the AAF, sees itself as something of a minor league for the NFL, with whom they have somewhat of a working relationship. The NFL Network hosts some of the league’s games, and they have clauses in their contracts that allow players to break the contract to sign with an AAF team in the offseason.
Dundon wants that status to be closer to reality. They want to work out an arrangement with the NFL (and more importantly, the NFLPA) that would allow NFL teams to ‘loan’ the AAF some of its talent from the back end of its roster. we’re talking about players anywhere from 54 to 90, because, remember, the AAF’s season starts after the Super Bowl and runs through April.
According to Pro Football Talk, “there has been no movement on the efforts to persuade the NFL Players Association to agree to a program that would result in NFL teams loaning certain back-of-roster players to the AAF”.
If the league fails to achieve this agreement, there is a very real possibility, even a likelihood, that Dundon will pull his investment, and they will be stuck looking for another savior investor, which is unlikely to happen, and which could result in the league pulling the plug—this week.
There are two weeks remaining in the 10-week schedule of their inaugural season, which gives way to a two-round postseason consisting of four teams, two from each four-team conference. The Orlando Apollos and the Birmingham Iron have already secured their postseason berths, but there has to be a postseason for that to mean anything.
Personally, I would be very disappointed if the Alliance of American Football proves to be one-and-done. Despite the obvious struggles of an upstart league, the quality of product on the field has been as good as one could expect, and has even been exciting at times.
I would really love to see the AAF develop into a legitimate, official minor league for the NFL where young talent—or even marginal veterans—could continue to develop their craft and get work on film. This is something that has been missing from the league since they shuttered NFL Europe after the 2007 season.