AAF Suspends Football Operations; Inaugural Season Cancelled

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 2, 2019

The logo on a football prior to an AAF football game between the Atlanta Legends and the San Diego Fleet, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, Calif. (Peter Joneleit via AP Photo)
Peter B Joneleit/Associated Press

Eight weeks into its inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football has likely played its final game. 

The AAF sent an email to employees on Tuesday outlining the decision, which states the league's operations will be suspended immediately, via NFL Network's

"Over the last year, we have been able to realize some amazing accomplishments. We launched a football league, a ground breaking sports technology and APP, and established production and broadcast arrangements to air our content on major networks. Together we created some incredible moments for football and our fans. We are very proud of what we accomplished and appreciate the contributions each of you made during that process. 

"Unfortunately, after careful consideration, the board has decided to suspend operations of the Alliance of American Football, effective immediately. As part of this process, we expect to keep a small staff on hand to seek new investment capital and restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two. As a follow up to this communication, we will reach out to the personnel who will be involved in that continuation effort.

"For those employees whom we do not contact individually to discuss an ongoing role or alternative arrangements, your employment termination date is effective Wednesday, April 3, 2019, and you will be paid through this date. We are extraordinarily appreciative for all of your efforts. ... Thank you again for your service."

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Darren Rovell of The Action Network first reported the news. Rovell noted that AAF owner Tom Dundon stands to lose $70 million and made the decision to suspend operations "against wishes of league co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian."

Polian issued a statement about Dundon's decision, via ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein:

"I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football. When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.

"The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity."

The AAF has been in financial trouble basically since the season started on Feb. 9. 

David Glenn of The Athletic reported on Feb. 18 that Dundon, who owns the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, was named the AAF's new chairman after making a $250 million investment to help the league get its finances in order. 

Dundon told reporters last week the NFL Players Association could help the league by allowing its players, notably those on practice squads, to play in the AAF. 

"If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," Dundon said. "We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league."

The NFLPA declined the request for multiple reasons. Chief among them were that using active players in AAF games could violate CBA rules that restrict mandatory workouts during the offseason and the possibility that injuries suffered in the AAF would stunt accrued service time in the NFL, which has financial implications. 

The inaugural AAF campaign was scheduled for a 10-week regular season with a two-week postseason culminating in a championship game on April 27.