Bill Polian, a former NFL GM who co-founded the AAF with Charlie Ebersol, said the new league’s chief investor, Tom Dundon, had decided to pull the plug for a range of reasons. CBS, the NFL Network and Turner Sports’ B/R Live streaming service had carried games since the league opened its doors in February, but ratings had been soft and the AAF faced a host of other operational issues.
Dundon, who owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, pledged to inject $250 million into the new venture but decided the NFL Players Association’s reluctance to allow its members to practice with AAF teams was a dealbeaker. Attracting talent was destined to be the tallest hurdle for the new league, just as it has been for past attempts to offer alternatives to the NFL. Ebersol’s father, longtime NBC executive Dick Ebersol, experienced the challenge when launching the short-lived XFL, though the WWE’s Vince McMahon is spearheading a resurrection of the XFL.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” Polian said in a statement. “When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.
“The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity.”
One of the league’s most notable players, Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football), offered some sage advice to his fellow players on Twitter. (That’s a noteworthy development since the last thing Johnny Football is known for is sage advice.) Here are his tweets: