The Alliance of American Football was a wonderful dream project full of potential, at least until it wasn’t. The whole house of cards collapsed when everyone realized there wasn’t enough money, or at least what money there was could easily be pulled. That’s ultimately what happened eight weeks into their inaugural 10-week season when Tom Dundon, who ended up as majority shareholder, elected to suspend operations.
Dundon put forth a substantial amount of money, in theory, but it turned out to be a pay-as-you-go agreement that was forced upon the league when they had a previous investor pull out just as the season was getting underway. The new investor was given the keys to the car simply because there wouldn’t be a car at all without him.
Then he wrecked it, and everybody is looking to get the insurance money they’re owed. Apparently there is very little, if any. At the end of April, it was reported that in a bankruptcy filing, “no property appears to be available to pay creditors”.
Therefore, please do not file a proof of claim now”, the filing continued. “If it later appears that assets are available to pay creditors, the clerk will send you another notice telling you that you may file a proof of claim and stating the deadline”.
According to the report, the AAF ceased operations with around $50 million in debt, but as of that point there had only been a handful of claims totaling not much more than $1 million submitted. Essentially, the message for anybody else owed money was, don’t waste your time.
Shortly thereafter, the bankruptcy trustee handling the AAF’s case accused Silicon Valley Bank of holding on to roughly $2 million and being “unresponsive” regarding efforts to access that money. The trustee said that “he currently has no resources to oversee the case”.
Aside from any claims yet to be made, the league is already facing multiple lawsuits, likely with more to come in the future. They have been accused of misleading people about how secure their funding was, both in the present as well as into the future. Multiple coaches and players have even commented on this topic, essentially saying that they were told the league was funded for a couple of seasons.
Had the league been able to complete its season, the championship game would have occurred a couple weeks ago, around the time of the draft. The Orlando Apollos finished with the league’s best record, and some, including themselves, have informally recognized them as the champions of the league.
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed six former AAF players to NFL contracts after the league folded, including defensive lineman Casey Sayles, who was with them last summer. They also signed defensive backs Jack Tocho and Kameron Kelly, defensive lineman Winston Craig, center J.C. Hassenauer, and outside linebacker JT Jones.