The Alliance of American Football’s first season also may be its last, its majority owner said Wednesday, unless the NFL Players Assn. has a change of heart and allows young players from NFL rosters to participate in the fledgling league.
“If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” Tom Dundon told USA Today. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”
The NFLPA had no official response to Dundon’s comments, USA Today said. But the newspaper said a union official expressed “serious concerns” about active NFL players participating in a spring league. The source stated that such an arrangement would violate the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement and could also expose players to a greater risk of injury.
Dundon said the NFLPA’s primary concern was that players would feel pressure to play in the additional league.
The AAF wanted to be able to use NFL practice squad players starting next season, USA Today reported, in hopes of serving as a development league.
Co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian announced the AAF in March 2018. At the time, Ebersol sounded as if the new league would serve players who hadn’t made it in the NFL. “There are 28,000 Division I football players,” Ebersol said. “Only 1,700 have NFL jobs. We’re looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores and we think we will find them.”
The AAF debuted on Feb. 9. Nine days later, Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, made a $250-million investment in the league. The Athletic reported that the new funds helped the league meet its payroll after the first week, but the AAF denied that it was a bailout.