The Alliance of American Football is exactly one month away from crowning its inaugural champions. Based on some comments by the league’s majority owner, its inaugural champion could, potentially, be the only team to win a title before the AAF comes to an end.
Tom Dundon, who invested $250 million into the league and serves as its chairman, sat down with USA Today Sports and made it clear that the league wants the NFL to view it as a developmental organization. According to Dundon, the league would be forced to consider a few options, including shutting down, if the NFL Players Association doesn’t give them a hand.
“If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” Dundon said. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”
This isn’t the first time that Dundon has made it clear he wants the AAF to serve as a development league for the NFL. In the press release announcing the league would move its championship game from Las Vegas to Frisco, Texas, Dundon said “Since joining The Alliance, I’ve ignited a mission to accelerate the growth of our league in its next phase as a complementary developmental league for the NFL and its players.”
The issue with his plan is that, while the NFL broadcasts games on NFL Network, there isn’t a formal partnership between the two leagues, although AAF head of football Bill Polian said there are informal talks ongoing regarding loaning players between the two leagues. In speaking to USA Today Sports, though, an NFLPA official revealed there would be serious concerns about the AAF becoming a developmental league.
The person said the players’ union is founded on the belief that using active NFL players and practice squad members for the AAF would violate the terms of the CBA and the restrictions that prevent teams from holding mandatory workouts and practices throughout the offseason. The limitations set in place are designed to ensure the safety and adequate rest and recovery time for football players. But there’s a concern that teams would abuse their power and perhaps force young players into AAF action as a condition for consideration for NFL roster spots in the fall.
There’s no word on the extent to which shutting down the league is feasible — perhaps it’s an absolute worst-case scenario, or maybe it’s a legitimate possibility. Regardless, Dundon told USA Today Sports he plans on making a decision regarding the future of the league sometime in the next two days.