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Thread: AAF Operations Suspended

  1. #1
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    Default AAF Operations Suspended

    AAF operations suspended, league's future in doubt after eight games of first season
    Ben Kercheval

    AAF control owner Tom Dundon has threatened to shutter the league without a deal with the NFLPA

    The Alliance of American Football may end before capping off its inaugural season. CBSSports.com spoke to a source close to the AAF and could confirm that operations were suspended at least for the day, and "probably indefinitely" with control owner Tom Dundon making the call. However, CBSSports.com was not able to confirm if the league was folding.

    Pro Football Talk and Darren Rovell first reported that the AAF has suspended football operations, though there have been no confirmed reports that the league is folding. General managers across the AAF were holding a conference call Tuesday afternoon. A statement to the players from Dundon is expected at 5 p.m. ET, though no one -- not even GMs -- are sure what it's going to say.

    The sticking point for those inside the AAF as they try to wrap their heads around what Dundon is doing is that nothing has materially changed since the Carolina Hurricanes owner invested in the company in February. Dundon invested $70 million of his pledged $250 million up front -- and he stands to lose at least that $70 million if the league folds -- but the AAF felt strongly about its chances of survival even before Dundon came aboard.

    The source said the AAF, its partners and the NFL are all perplexed by Dundon's movements in the past 24 hours.
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    At the center of the AAF's uncertain future are the negotiations between the league and the NFLPA 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 can confirm 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. In fact, one source indicated that Dundon's comments don't match his actions from Tuesday afternoon.

  2. #2
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    I think he want the NFL practice squad players access now and probably more money. Personally haven't watched any of the games at all.
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    I read a story about Spurrier's reaction to it all. He says the team owners and coaching staffs were told the league had enough money to operate for three years before turning a profit. He says it's now obvious there was little to no truth in any of it or the league is trying to extort the NFLPA.

    I think the guys who started the league just over-estimated the public's enthusiasm. It happens all the time across the entertainment industry.

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    Sportsbooks seek clarity, bettors in limbo after AAF suspends operations
    Patrick Everson

    The Alliance of American Football on Tuesday suspended operations for its inaugural season. Sportsbook operators say once there's certainty that play won't resume, futures bets will be refunded.

    A day earlier, this might have initially been passed off as an April Fool’s missive. But on Tuesday, the Alliance of American Football announced it was suspending operations, with two more weeks of regular-season play remaining, which was supposed to be followed by two weeks of playoffs.

    League owner Tom Dundon made the decision, less than two months after ostensibly stepping into his role with a massive financial commitment. On Feb. 19, two weeks into the season, Dundon helped tamp down reported payroll issues by stating that he'd be investing $250 million into the AAF.

    While the fledgling league wasn’t driving big business at the betting window, the AAF had its share of wagering supporters, including on championship futures. Tuesday evening, sportsbook operators were seeking more information before determining the appropriate course with those bets.

    “We will refund all futures bets once it’s official that the league won’t be resuming,” John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate in Las Vegas, told us.

    Likewise, William Hill US – with dozens of Las Vegas locations among more than 100 across Nevada, along with operations in New Jersey and Mississippi – is just awaiting further clarification.

    “We’re waiting to see what happens,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US. “If it’s definitely over, we will refund.”

    Added Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports for MGM Resorts: “It will be a refund if they don’t finish the season and play a championship.”

    That appears to be the most likely outcome, as the AAF didn’t signal any intent to resume play this season. The Associated Press reported that a letter from the AAF board stated that a small staff would remain 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.”

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    Who to blame for Alliance of American Football's collapse
    Tadd Haislop

    The Alliance of American Football technically has not folded — not yet, at least. But when the AAF suspended its football operations Tuesday, the league told its players their termination date was April 3. Even though the AAF did leave open the possibility of a re-launch under new investment, Tuesday's suspension was viewed by most as the end of the start-up professional football league that lasted just eight weeks in 2019.

    Which begs the question: If this is indeed the end of the AAF, how and why did it fold so quickly?

    The answer to that question was elusive in the hours after the league, co-founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, ceased to operate. But there was one common denominator among all of the reports and theories as to what killed the AAF.

    His name is Tom Dundon.

    It is worth noting that the apparent collapse of the AAF is not related to TV ratings. Action Network's Darren Rovell reported the league’s TV ratings were "respectable" through its inaugural season despite a significant drop-off after its opening weekend. Instead, the collapse appears to be tied directly to Dundon.

    The owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, Dundon committed $250 million to the AAF in February, an investment that reportedly kept the league afloat. He became the controlling owner of the league at that point, something Ebersol and Polian might now regret.

    Days before the AAF suspended football operations, Dundon told USA Today he needed cooperation from the NFL Players' Association (NFLPA) in order to feed current NFL players into the league and, therefore, maintain the AAF's viability — in Dundon's mind, at least.

    "If the players' union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," Dundon said.

    Currently, NFL players who sign "futures" contracts at the end of a given season are allowed to play in the AAF, but the NFLPA has not agreed to budge — at least not as quickly as Dundon apparently prefers — and allow active NFL players (and/or NFL practice squad players) to play in the AAF.

    The reasoning from the NFLPA, per USA Today:

    "A players' union official did express serious concerns about the risks of lending active NFL players to the AAF. The official requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

    "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 additional concern on the NFLPA’s part is that if an NFL player played in the AAF and suffered serious injury, that player would face the risk of missing an NFL season and lose a year of accrued experience, which carries financial ramifications for players."

    Rovell reported Dundon had been funding the AAF on “a week-to-week basis," and that as of Tuesday, he had invested $70 million of the $250 million he committed to the league.

    Which begs yet another question, and one to which even those in the AAF reportedly can't fathom an answer: Why would Dundon waste $70 million and pull the plug on the league over a silly stare-down with the NFLPA?

    According to Pro Football Talk, which cited a source, "Dundon signed on to kick the tires. Once he realized how expensive it was to own and operate a sports league, he initially tried to cut costs. But that resulted in a cutting of functionality. He then pinned the league’s future to a deal with the NFL for permission to borrow its bottom-of-roster players."

    Previously, Albert Breer of The MMQB had offered a possible explanation for Dundon's actions: "Perception inside the AAF is that Dundon bought a majority stake in the league simply for the gambling app being developed."

    Indeed, a technology sector in which MGM has invested is part of the AAF. The league reportedly had been developing a proprietary gambling application that would help drive league interest in an increasingly gambling-friendly sports environment. According to PFT, the technology "placed sensors on players and delivered real-time movements to cell phones with a delay in the milliseconds."

    But according to Rovell, such a motive on the part of Dundon is unlikely from a legal perspective: "While Dundon is said to have liked the tech component of the business and owns the entire company, sources say it would not be legal for him to shut down the league in order to strip the assets." Further, PFT reported Wednesday that Dundon does not own (or have the ability to own) the technology.

    MORE: Questions about AAF's future remain

    CBS Sports' Ben Kercheval offered a reminder Tuesday: The AAF is (was?) operating on a three-year plan. This is noteworthy because Dundon's actions suggest he was not willing to wait three years — and invest more money — for the league to become whatever he hoped it would become.

    Ebersol and Polian have been clear from the beginning; the AAF was never supposed to compete with the NFL. It was supposed to be the opposite. The AAF would be somewhat of a developmental league in the spring — a Triple-A to MLB, of sorts — for fringe NFL roster players hoping to make it in the fall.

    But before it could become a true developmental league for the NFL, the AAF needed to develop on its own, hence the three-year plan. Natural financial complications aside, there is little reason to believe the AAF's model was not sustainable. Dundon surely knew this when he promised to invest $250 million.

    "I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football," Polian said Tuesday in a statement (via ESPN). "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.

    "I sincerely regret that many that believed in this project will see their hopes and efforts unrewarded. They gave their best for which I am deeply grateful. Unfortunately, Mr. Dundon has elected this course of action."

    What changed, if anything — and why Dundon seemed so set on reaching an agreement with the NFLPA so quickly — remains unclear, save for a simple and arguably inexplicable change of heart.

    But regardless of his motives, Dundon is the reason the AAF appears to be folding.

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