AAF 2019: what went wrong and what follows after the sudden closing of the league



By all indications, the AAF is carried out without finishing its inaugural season. The players were informed that Tuesday was their last day and that soccer operations, initially suspended by control owner Tom Dundon, finish after a last day on Wednesday.

Ask 10 people what went wrong and you are likely to get 10 different answers. That speaks of the complexity of the situation, but also of the preconceived notions that many had about whether the AAF would succeed or fail and why. Also, because the disappearance of the league happened so quickly, for the context, I attended the Arizona-San Antonio game on Sunday night and several league staff members told me that operations for the next few weeks worked as usual. , there are many More questions than answers at this time.

That will surely change in the coming days, weeks and months in the form of trials, since certain issues are likely to be forced to arise. Michael McCann of Illustrated Sports did a good job of Breaking down potential avenues and ramifications. for any upcoming litigation. For now, here is a general overview of what went wrong, why, and what is next through the lens of covering this start-up in the last three months.

So what happened?

A moving question Despite the bad press of recent months, from Disputed reports of financial problems. to judgments, the AAF definitely had the potential to succeed. The first month saw a lot of rough and mediocre football because teams were still developing chemistry and time. In addition, there was not enough high level talent to go through the two positions where the development was most visibly necessary: ​​the quarterback and the offensive line. But the product in the field began to take off around the midpoint of the season. The games were more exciting and the overall quality of the game was improving. Ultimately, the system was working, as can be seen from the fact that there were emerging players who are Good enough to play on Sundays. I just needed time.

Dundon was not willing to give him that time for reasons that really only he knows. The AAF and the NFLPA were in talks to use practice squad players at the AAF, developing them in the spring to be better prepared and fit for the NFL's training camps. Although the logistical obstacles remained in the safety of the players and futures contracts, both parties seemed to agree that an agreement could be reached at some point.

Apparently, that was not fast enough for Dundon, who publicly rushed through a few weeks of negotiating with the NFLPA. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the NFL knows that this takes time because there is a lot of bureaucracy. The way the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured, the sooner the AAF and the NFLPA could have matched was not for a couple of years.

But, at the end of the day, it's Dundon's money, in this case, his $ 70 million he's eating, and he can make the calls despite the rejection of AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol and Football Director Bill. Polian

Numerous people within the AAF, from the office staff to the coaches, expressed how absolutely blind they were in the news on Tuesday that all soccer operations would be suspended. Dundon's threats to potentially close the league, as well as firing employees, came without warning or consultation so that those hired worked under Dundon. Since last weekend, week 8 in the season of the AAF, the general feeling was that the cause of concern had pbaded and that the business would continue as usual. Then, Dundon reiterated on Monday night that he would act seriously on the future of the league. An AAF general manager told CBSSports.com on Tuesday afternoon that they had no idea what was happening.

CBSSports.com was told that, ultimately, Dundon had a different view of the league when he took control of it than other people within the AAF, which was one of the many factors that led to his decision to close things.

Whose fault is it?

There is not a single person who carries 100% of the load, but Dundon, Ebersol and Polian have taken it seriously in radio programs and social networks. And, no doubt, there is guilt where it deserves.

Dundon closed the operation. There is an important question about why you would invest so much money just to retire less than two months later. Apart from the fact that it is his money and he can do what he wants with him, which is a huge fact, people would have work today if he did not decide to close it. There lies a point that is often lost in the macro perspective of success or failure: people who are on the lowest rungs of the ladder often receive the worst. Multiple AAF trainers told CBSSports.com that the biggest regrets they have are not for themselves, but for the badistant, the video, the training, the public relations, the main office and all the other anonymous staff members who stopped their lives to give an opportunity to the AAF under the command. premise that they had at least a couple of years of job security. According to a letter written by the AAF Board (Dundon), the final paychecks will be delivered this week and the health insurance will be extended until the end of the month, and that's it.

And if Ebersol had to do it all over again, he would probably think twice if he would like to give so much control over the company to someone, no matter how much money they can invest. One thing that does not make sense is the idea that the AAF was "rushed". This has been a company for three years and has just hit the market with a product in the field this spring. However, the decision-making at the top, between the execution of everything and the differences of visions, is what led to the thing going south.

Was there a financial crisis? Is that why the AAF gave Dundon so much power?

Yes and no. The idea that the AAF could not make the payroll without him was false; There was money in the bank for employees in Week 2, approximately when Dundon agreed to inject cash into the league. The payroll problem was, and keep your "Office Space" jokes, please, a flaw in the system that caused some players not to receive their paycheck on the day they normally received it. However, a general manager told CBSSports.com later that any errors in the system had been corrected. The moment this problem occurred, along with the arrival of Dundon, created a juicy narrative that was not exactly the way it was represented.

That said, Dundon was hired because of concerns about long-term liquidity. As a successful businessman with a variety of companies, including the property of the Carolina Hurricanes, it was an attractive option for the AAF. With $ 250 million, which is what Dundon initially promised to infuse, it would give the league the three or four years of stability it had promised its employees.

The fact that Dundon was needed, the term "gift of God" was used by the sources more than once, raises legitimate questions about the cash flow and expenses of the league. A source told CBSSports.com that several suppliers had not been paid when Dundon arrived. As part of the agreement, Dundon was named Chairman of the AAF board, but the reality is that he was the board. The warning of his investment was that he would make decisions based on the business model he had in mind for the league. That includes where and how your money is spent.

Dundon essentially bought the AAF to get application technology?

Let's put this rumor (and other rumors) to bed. CBSSports.com was told that Dundon did not become the owner of the AAF control to essentially steal the technology in the league application that could be used on the betting line for betting or fantasy football purposes. For everything Dundon controls, he does not have the intellectual property of that badet. If I tried to use it for him later, there would be a litigation to follow.

Also, the idea that the XFL is involved with the demise of the AAF is an exaggeration, to say the least. The owner of XFL, Vince McMahon, has a story with Charlie Ebersol's father, Dick, from his days at NBC Universal. The two families remain close, and the XFL and the AAF were never meant to be competing leagues. In fact, a source close to the AAF told CBSSports.com that the two leagues had been in discussions about a possible merger.

Can the AAF be saved?

It seems unlikely, but it is possible. A letter sent to the employees on Tuesday by the board (ie, Dundon) in which they notified their termination left the door open for a possible second season. "We hope to have a small staff available to look for new investment capital and restructure our business," the letter says. "If those efforts are successful, we hope to work with many of you in the second season." As a follow-up to this communication, we will communicate with the staff that will participate in that continuation effort.

It is not clear where this new source of capital investment would come from and how the AAF would be restructured. CBSSports.com could not confirm any name that might be interested in being a new source of capital for the league. Although the AAF has not yet been technically folded, there have been no signs that it has come back to life.


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