Starting up a new football league isn’t easy, and the AAF has had its share of difficulties during its inaugural season. The most recent near-calamity came when controlling owner Tom Dundon announced that the league could be discontinued if the NFLPA didn’t help out. While this is bad news at first glance, fans of the league should not be worried. Dundon’s statement is nothing more than a negotiating tactic to acquire NFL practice squad players.
AAF Closure Nothing to Worry About
Dundon’s sent the AAF world into mass hysteria when he said: “We are looking at all of our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.” Obviously, that sentence makes it sound like the future of the league is highly uncertain. However, when looking at the full quote, it’s clear to see that he’s only saying that to try to increase the AAF’s leverage in obtaining players. The full quote reads “If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league.”
Dundon isn’t asking for extra money, but rather the ability to develop players on NFL practice squads. It’s no secret that the AAF could use more talent, and the AAF is trying to get that talent while also helping NFL teams get a better look at some of their players under contract.
The NFLPA is open to the idea, but there are a few setbacks stopping the idea from coming to fruition. The biggest obstacle is dealing with injury risk. Should an NFL practice squad member suffer an injury while playing in the AAF, that obviously makes it impossible for them to make an actual NFL roster. This situation would bring a serious financial blow to the player, and the NFLPA won’t let NFL practice squad members play in the AAF without some form of financial insurance should injury strike. Dundon is apparently trying to speed up those negotiations through his most recent comment.
If the league is on the verge of collapse, that’s news to AAF Head of Football Bill Polian. According to CBS Sports, Polian was “only made aware of the issue” after Dundon issued his statements. Polian, as well as everyone in the AAF front offices, fully expect the regular slate of games to occur in Week Eight.
The league isn’t in financial turmoil (anymore), so it would make no sense for Dundon to shut down the AAF just two months after investing $250 million in the product. This is nothing more than a bluff to get NFL talent into the AAF. Whether it works or not is yet to be seen, but the AAF will be around for at least the remainder of the 2019 season.
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