For all of its strange quirks and random castaways making another run at glory, the Alliance of American Football began at time where success seemed likely. There's no football after the Super Bowl, and while the NFL Draft is exciting for about 20 minutes, it's hardly the football fix that fans want during the spring. The upstart league is doing everything it can rally support, but according to AAF majority owner Tom Dundon, the league is going to fail without help from the NFL Players Association.
According to USA Today, Dundon suggested that the AAF is in danger of failing because the NFLPA — the group that protects the interests of NFL players — won't allow The Alliance to borrow current NFL players to fill its rosters. The AAF has suggested expanding to truly become the developmental league for the NFL, but Dundon doesn't seem so positive about their relationship.
"If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," Dundon told USA Today Sports. "We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league."
Basically, Dundon is suggesting everyone in the AAF stinks, and they're in desperate need of good players to survive.
Dundon is the owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes who invested $250 million back in February. The AAF stated the money didn't exactly "save" the league from failing, even though help came suspiciously close to a payroll error that wouldn't have paid anyone.
Now, just 36 days after making that initial investment, do you really think the guys who's reportedly already put $70 million of his own money into the AAF is just going to close the doors and walk away?
Yeah, right. This is a power play of epic proportions.
Dundon, alongside Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol and co-founder Bill Polian, are doing everything they can to make the AAF a success. They've already moved the Alliance Championship game to Texas where it's more accessible (albeit less exciting) than Las Vegas. The league is challenging the NFLPA to meet them halfway and truly buy-in to what's happening. The NFL already acknowledges the AAF's existence through a TV deal with NFL Network and will allow AAF players to attend NFL training camps while still under contract.
This is just Tom Dundon fighting his ongoing battle with the NFLPA in the public eye, which in no way endangers the NFL, but now puts a big, fat microscope right on the AAF.
A player's association official told USA Today that the biggest issue is protecting NFL players from injury. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the anonymous source pointed out the overwhelming fear is that if AAF teams poach NFL talent from practice squads, that would not only risk a player's safety, but could keep them out of offseason workouts with their National Football League teams.
If the AAF is really going to be the minor league of the NFL, there needs to be an agreement between the two that works both ways. The National Football League and Supreme Overlord of All Things Football Roger Goodell don't like giving up what they already have, but it seems like they have to for The Alliance to be sustainable.
The current NFL CBA will be active until 2021, which would be the earliest a legally binding agreement between NFL players and the AAF could take place. Sadly, I don't think this new league can last that long without legitimate players from NFL rosters.
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