Alliance of American Football suspends operations
AAF, Memphis Express future in doubt with two weeks left in inaugural season
By the Times Sports Staff
firstname.lastname@example.org Is it a case of too much football? Trying to do much too fast? Or is it just a sign that if it’s not the NFL, then it’s a no-go for professional football?
With two weeks left fefore capping off its inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football could already be dead in the water.
Operations were “suspended” at least for now, a source close to the AAF confimied Wednesday, adding that they would remain so “probably indefinitely,” with AAF controlling owner Tom Dundon making the call.
While reports were not confirmed that the league was folding, there will be no games this weekend, and in the meantime, practices have been canceled.
JTo Football Talk’s Darren Rovell first reported that the AAF had “suspended football operations,” as cash flow issues and dwindling attendance and rating numbers threaten to kill the league with two regular season games and the playoffs still to come.
It was always going to be a risky venture. Spring football has been met with a middling response at best over the years, be it the USFL, NFL Europe, the XFL and other upstart leagues. Dundon, a latecomer in the effort to keep the AAF afloat, pledged $250 million toward the effort, but moves to push the NFL to embrace the league as a “feeder” for its ranks were met with a keen lack of interest.
Sources said the AAF, its partners and the NFL are all perplexed by Dundon’s sudden announcement, especially since all signs pointed to the league taking a slow approach with the knowledge that money would be tight for the beginning of the league.
At the center of the AAF’s uncertain future are the negotiations between the league and the NFL Players’ Association over the use of NFL practice squad players. Last week, Dundon said that if a deal could not be reached between the two sides, he would examine all options, including dissolving the league.
In all likelihood, the AAF wouldn’t get NFL practice squad players for another couple of years because of the collective bargaining agreement and the massive amount of red tape that the NFL requires to make such agreements official.
While the AAF played games last weekend, Dundon doubled down on his statements Monday evening. CBSSports.com confimied that Dundon is acting against the wishes of the people contracted to work underneath him. That includes the wishes of AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol and Head of Football Bill Polian.
However, no one within the AAF is sure why Dundon is suspending operations and threatening to shutter the league since talks between the AAF and NFLPA were positive.
Among those with uncertaini futures are the players, coaches and staff for the Memphis Express, the local AAF team. Interest in the Express was picqued in March when fomier Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel joined the team. Manziel played in just two games for the express before the league suspended operations.
Manziel sent out a tweet yesterday that painted a grim picture for the league’s prospects.
“If you’re an AAF player and the league does dissolve,” Manziel said, “the last check you got will be the last one that you get.
No lawsuit or anything else will get you your bread. Save your money and keep your head up. It’s the only choice at this point unless something drastic happens.”
While the AAF launched with promising television numbers and enthusiastic fans, those figures quickly waned as other seasonal sports alternatives, including the peak of the NBA playoff push, college basketball’s “March Madness” and the return of Major League Baseball for the 2019 season, were more to fans’ liking.
The timing of the announcement also comes just as another spring football venture, a revival of the XFL by World Wrestling Entertainment owner and CEO Vince McMahon. McMahon and fellow investors have plans to re-launch the league, which ran (and completed) a single season of spring football in 2001 before also folding. The XFL is set to return to play, with a revamped league structure and format, in March of 2020.
Memphis Express quarterback Johnny Manziel, who played in just two games for the Express before the AAF suspended operations earlier this week, is among those players who look to be out of a job after the league appears to be shutting down before finishing its first season.
Photo courtesy of AAF
Crushers Cap Season with Win
The Crittenden Crushers 14U volleyball squad ended their season with a bang, going undefeated (5-0) over two days of competition to win the March Madness Challenge at Lewlsburg High School in Olive Branch, Mississippi over the weekend. The Crushers are coached by Craig and Blair Rogers.
Photos courtesy of Facebook