AAF Releases Statement Apologizing to Players for Suspending Play

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2019

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - MARCH 31: Freddie Burden #64 of the Atlanta Legends sits on the bench during the first half of the Alliance of American Football game against the Birmingham Iron  at Legion Field on March 31, 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Logan Riely/Getty Images

The Alliance of American Football has issued an apology after suspending operations earlier this week:

"This week, we made the difficult decision to suspend all football operations for the Alliance of American Football. We understand the difficulty that this decision has caused for many people and for that we are very sorry. This is not the way we wanted it to end, but we are also committed to working on solutions for all outstanding issues to the best of our ability. Due to ongoing legal processes, we are unable to comment further or share details about the decision.

"We are grateful to our players, who delivered quality football and may now exercise their NFL-out clauses in our contract. We encourage them to continue pursuing their dreams and wish them the best. We are grateful to our fans, who have been true believers from the beginning, and to our world-class partners. And to the Alliance coaches and employees who devoted their valuable time and considerable talent to this venture, we are forever grateful."

The AAF paused play Tuesday, just eight games into its inaugural season, while it sought new investment capital. Darren Rovell of The Action Network reported AAF owner Tom Dundon, who made the decision "against wishes of league co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian," will lose $70 million on his investment.

David Glenn of The Athletic reported Feb. 18 that Dundon, also the owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, was named AAF chairman after making a $250 million investment.

Dundon revealed in late March the AAF's future was in jeopardy if it could not establish a partnership with the NFL.

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

The decision left players without jobs and the opportunity to further pursue their football dreams, and it appeared initially that league personnel also faced hefty expenses they were not expecting:

Rich Ohrnberger @ohrnberger

More on the #AAF collapse: +Players in Memphis came back to their hotels after news came down, and had their personal items waiting in the lobby. Kicked out of their lodgings. +Amount of money owed to vendors, venues, etc. in San Antonio for training camp is over $4 Million

Rich Ohrnberger @ohrnberger

+Reserve/Injured players, “will be left in the cold.” They will be paying for their own rehab/medical expenses. +High level staff at the team level received email from “The Board” no one received a termination notice from an actual person.

Rich Ohrnberger @ohrnberger

+Team level staff members were asked to stay behind in markets to clean out office spaces (without pay)... and handle “refunds” ...no clarity who will be receiving those refunds. This is a complete mess...

Adrien Robinson @ItsARob8One

@TheAAF I woke up to over a $2500 charge pending on my account from the Sonesta hotel our team stayed in. I called the bank and Memphis team president. My only option is to dispute the charges on Monday. The same thing happened to other players on our team @ohrnberger

Anthony Manzo-Lewis @amanzolewis

Unorganized is an understatement...kicked out of our rooms (that weren’t paid apparently) 17 hours away from home with a car full of my belongings and nowhere to go...#JoinTheAlliance @TheAAF @CharlieEbersol @TDCanes @espn @BleacherReport @aafexpress

Former Memphis Express president Kosha Irby told the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Jason Munz the team had sent the hotel a check for $74,500 on April 1. One player's charges had been reversed, but the same reportedly could not be said for everyone.

While it was initially unclear if AAF players could sign with NFL teams, the league gave clearance Thursday:

The Alliance @TheAAF

Effective immediately, all AAF players are authorized to sign with NFL Clubs.

Cornerback Keith Reaser (Kansas City Chiefs), receiver Rashad Ross (Carolina Panthers), quarterback Garrett Gilbert (Cleveland Browns) and defensive end Alex Bennett (Oakland Raiders) have each capitalized on their AAF success and signed with NFL teams in recent days.

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