The title of the post almost looks like “RIP AF,” which would take on an entirely different connotation.
Yesterday, multiple reports came flying in that the new Spring football league, the Alliance of American Football, would be suspending operations effective immediately. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the league is folding for good, in all likelihood, this is the end, evidenced by many teams’ official Twitters putting up farewell posts. All of this comes prior to week nine of the AAF’s inaugural season, leaving two regular season games and the postseason left unplayed.
Some saw this coming from early on. Two weeks after the start of regular season, reports had circulated that the AAF was bleeding money, and only the investment of Tom Dundon, who pledged $250 million dollars, kept the league alive at that point. With news like that, it puts doubt into the financial security of the league past year one, and apparently, it didn’t even last the full year. Dundon decided to pull the plug, seeing as he became majority owner through his investment.
Before going into the experiences I had with the league, I would just like to point out something, shall we say, “juicy.” It seems that Dundon was interested in the AAF’s gambling app that was advertised a few times during every game, which tracked real-time movement of players to bring people by-the-second results of various plays and so forth. Some have come to theorize that Dundon ended things to get his hands on this technology without dealing with the league as a whole. Of course, this is an incredibly shitty and illegal thing to do, so if this does come to pass, there will be a fight. If this does turn out to be the case, I really, really, really don’t think Dundon should get away with it, and even if the AAF does stay folded, he should be severely punished. I absolutely despise this kind of shady business practice that tends to be common with billionaires. Absolutely no remorse.
I didn’t watch it every weekend, as my work schedule tends to grow heavier during the weekend—when the AAF played. From what I did watch, it was a league that represented more than just a “developmental league,” more than just a stepping stone for players to hopefully get back to/earn the opportunity to play in the NFL. It was its own independent league, full of heart and the dedication to bring quality football between the period after the Super Bowl and prior to the NFL Draft. It wasn’t always quality, but it ended up being better than many expected it to be, with hoards of fans praying that some miracle arises in which it can continue to play. I’m one of those people.
I found myself cheering for a variety of squads for random reasons week-in and week-out. Teams I initially found somewhat dull eventually became exciting and enjoyable. I even started to come around on the Hotshots’ uniform! This is amazing because their uniform is way too bright! Getting invested in the games were often easy, to the point where I recall one game in particular, a week seven game between the Birmingham Iron and Memphis Express, where the Iron just kept passing the ball! Over and over and over and over, every play! Run it! Run it! You have Trent Richardson! Sure, his YPC average isn’t amazing, but he’s shown to break a tackle or twenty-seven! And you have the lead! Run out the clock! In the end, they lost the game in overtime. Hindsight is 20/20, though nevertheless, maybe it wouldn’t have even gotten to overtime if the time ran out faster!
Aside from the NFL, I also watch the AFL, which is a testament to endurance seeing as that league probably could’ve folded three or four years ago, and now it’s up to six teams from four teams last year. Kudos to the AFL aside, there’s a strange aura about the game that makes it a little harder to get into. I follow the games, the players, the stats, and so on, but actually watching the games can be somewhat of a chore. I can’t really place it; perhaps the amateur feel of the small stadiums and knowing the players get much less in compensation for almost equal the amount of work. It gives it a more intimate feel, though that’s pretty much it.
The AAF gave more than that. Despite issues with attendance and the constant stressing of “a league for development and a chance for a comeback,” it seemed like the next big thing. It had big plays every game, both offensively and defensively. There was a presence and prestige about the whole process that hid well the financial problems looming underneath. My penchant for romanticism aside, I thought the AAF would succeed, with its only issue being with its attendance. It seemed primed to take over the football world with its professional design and adequate product on the field. I truly felt it could work.
Alas, those days are gone. The AAF will now most likely be a distant memory of what could have been. All the effort in promotion, all the money spent; all of it gone in a flash from a single investor’s sudden decision which, apparently, left everyone baffled. (The shady theory above holds more weight that way.) I’ll keep the photos to remind me, as I’m sure many will. Fond memories of going to the games, perhaps chatting with the players, and looking beyond at what more the league could offer with the right foundations. I’ll miss you, AAF. Hopefully, in twenty years, some random billionaire will miss it so much that they’ll just bring it back from scratch. Maybe that person will be me. One can dream.
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.