AAF suspends operations, reportedly raising questions

The short, strange ride that’s been the Alliance of American Football is on the brink of running out of steam and questions are swirling.

According to ProFootballTalk, the AAF will suspend operations Tuesday, though it’s not folding entirely … yet.

Majority investor Tom Dundon, who invested $70 million since signing on in February, has been unsure if the project would extend into the weekend.

“It’s pretty fluid. It’s day to day, I would say,” Dundon told SportsBusiness Daily on Monday, noting he would know more later in the week.

Action Network confirmed Tuesday that the AAF would suspend all football operations with Dundon losing approximately $70 million on his investment. Per the report, Dundon made the decision to halt operations against the wishes of league co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. 

According to NFL Media, Dundon’s intentions with his investment have been put in question, with some believing he only wanted the technology being created around the league’s betting app.

However, according to Action Network, it would be illegal for Dundon to shut down the league in order to strip the assets.

Johnny Manziel, a quarterback for the Memphis Express and arguably the league’s most famous player, addressed the reports and encouraged fellow players to save their money if the league folds.

The original concept was for the AAF to be a sort of farm system for the NFL, much like minor-league baseball is to MLB. But the NFL Players’ Association hasn’t granted the AAF permission to use third- and fourth-string NFL players, most of whom never see action in NFL games.

“It is just what we think would make this the most compelling league,” Dundon told SportsBusiness Daily. “We don’t know what they [the NFLPA] are going to do, if they will do it. That is kind of our thought. That’s what we are trying to figure out right now.”

As it stands, the NFL will let players sign “futures” contracts at the end of a given season to play in the AAF, but the players’ association hasn’t agreed to terms that would modify the collective bargaining agreement. The modifications would protect players loaned from the NFL against serious injury while playing in the developmental league. 

The NFLPA hasn’t responded to Dundon’s claim, but an unidentified union official told USA Today recently the group has “serious concerns” about letting the AAF borrow active NFL members.

According to another report from ProFootballTalk, the remainder of the AAF season would cost $20 million. The league just finished Week 8 and has two weeks of the regular season remaining before four of the league’s eight teams make the playoffs, which consist of one semifinal week and a championship game.

Broadcast networks CBS, NFL Network, and TNT are slated to televise games in the coming weeks and would be left with programming holes if Dundon pulls funding and forces the league to fold.