The Alliance of American Football has suspended operations two weeks shy of its first postseason, NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk.com reported Tuesday.
The league isn’t folding, yet, PFT said, quoting a source familiar with the situation, but that does appear to be the likely outcome.
The move comes after Alliance chairman Tom Dundon hinted at pulling funding from the league. According to a PFT source, the league needed around $20 million to make it through the rest of its first season.
Dundon reportedly wanted an agreement with the NFL and the NFL Players Association that would allow the AAF to use NFL practice squad players.
The NFLPA had not agreed to a deal with the Alliance, and one unnamed union source said the risk of injury to NFL players was a sticking point, according to USA Today. Loaning players to the AAF would violate the collective bargaining agreement, which prohibits mandatory workouts and practices during the offseason, the source said.
But the new league had been on shaky financial ground since the outset. And it seems unlikely that having access to third- and fourth-string NFL players would have been the AAF’s salvation.
Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, became the AAF’s chairman when he pledged $250 million to the league in February amid reports the AAF was struggling to meet its payroll obligations.
The league was scheduled to talk to players and staff later Tuesday.
Broadcast partners, including CBS, TNT and the NFL Network, are now left with slots to fill in their schedules. CBS was set to televise Saturday’s game between Memphis and San Antonio, and the NFL Network had two weekend games on its schedule.
The league featured a number of well-known coaches, such as Steve Spurrier and Mike Singletary, and several former NFL players, including Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Manziel and Trent Richardson. Manziel, who signed with Memphis two weeks ago, was expected to boost fan interest.
The AAF, which began play a week after the Super Bowl, had completed eight of 10 regular season games, and two teams — Orlando and Birmingham — had already clinched playoff berths. The league recently moved its championship game, which would have been played April 27, from Las Vegas to Frisco, Texas.
Some players, notably Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert and wide receiver Charles Johnson, had shown promise and attracted the attention of NFL evaluators. Richardson had something of a renaissance in the Alliance, rushing for 11 touchdowns in eight games.
Now, all those players and coaches are suddenly out of jobs.
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