AAF Allegedly Could Be Discontinued If NFLPA Doesn't Provide Young Players

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2019

Teams lineup against each other during a Birmingham Iron at Memphis Express AAF football game, Sunday, March 24, 2019, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

Alliance of American Football majority owner Tom Dundon said Wednesday the league is in danger of shutting down if the NFL Players Association does not provide it with young players.

"If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," he said, per Kevin Allen and Mike Jones of USA Today. "We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league."

Dundon said he would decide the league's future in the next two days.

His comments garnered mixed reaction:

Jonathan Jones @jjones9

Seems like the AAF rushed into something that was going to be incredibly complex and difficult to pull off just to beat Vince McMahon, and is now destined to fail https://t.co/qUJq1HmkXc

Lindsay Jones @bylindsayhjones

It feels like there should be some sort of compromise, especially with players who are signed to NFL futures contracts, to allow the AAF to become a true developmental league. https://t.co/cCXomC5ynR

Sarah Spain @SarahSpain

Unbelievable to imagine a business plan hinging on another league’s cooperation. If the AAF hadn’t secured this deal with the NFLPA in advance, evaluations of its viability should have assumed no deal. https://t.co/meHHbJlIvH

While the NFLPA didn't officially respond to Dundon's claims, an anonymous NFLPA official said the union was concerned with the potential risks involved in allowing the players to participate in the AAF.

Allen and Jones wrote:

"The person said the players' union is founded on the belief that using active NFL players and practice squad members for the AAF would violate the terms of the CBA and the restrictions that prevent teams from holding mandatory workouts and practices throughout the offseason. The limitations set in place are designed to ensure the safety and adequate rest and recovery time for football players. But there's a concern that teams would abuse their power and perhaps force young players into AAF action as a condition for consideration for NFL roster spots in the fall."

The AAF has met a mostly positive reception in its opening season, especially given the access the league offers fans during its broadcasts. Cameras go into locker rooms, and the league features more in-game interviews and mic'd participants.

It also capitalizes on the lack of competitors in the market for football leagues below the NFL level, though with the XFL set to return in 2020, that window could be closing.