Well, all of the hype and the great words of the AAF have seemed to have done nothing. All of the hard work, the effort put in and most importantly the fan reactions, such as in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio, have also seemed to do absolutely nothing in trying to keep the AAF alive. That’s right, folks—another try at a “minor-league” football league has collapsed. As of April 2, 2019, the AAF has ceased all operations, and is heading towards the graveyard of failed football leagues. As an overall football fan, this stinks. Not only for us fans, but for the players, coaches and all other staff members involved for each team in the alliance.
Majority owner Tom Dundon, who is also owner of the resurging NHL franchise the Carolina Hurricanes, decided to go against the creators of the league and closed its doors. The bombshell was first reported by Action Network HQ’s Darren Rovell at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday on Twitter, and it shocked the football world. Looking at all of the reactions, at first it was an extreme backlash against Dundon, and it still is now, almost a week later. Fans in San Diego feel especially hurt, because not only did they lose an NFL football team, they now lost one again. First the Chargers, and now they lose the Fleet of the AAF. Looking at this from the outside, this whole situation just seems weird. Just a few weeks ago, Orlando Apollos Coach Steve Spurrier said to reporters that the league was “good to go until the end of the season,” and well here we are now.
The real sad part about this, is that some players… were left out to dry financially when they had to pick up the bill for their team hotel.
It certainly is unfortunate, but at the same time there is a silver lining to this whole mess. Some of the NFL’s teams have stepped in, signing players just looking for that one chance to either return, or to make the NFL. One big name of the AAF who got an NFL contract was star QB of the Orlando Apollos, Garrett Gilbert. For Gilbert who got signed by the Cleveland Browns, this is the sixth NFL team he has been on as of this latest signing. Others were signed to different teams, such as the Panthers and the Vikings, but not everyone had an immediate contract.
The real sad part about all of this is that some players, like the Memphis Express players who were left out to dry financially when they had to pick up the bill for their team hotel, had no help or payments from the AAF after this unexpected collapse on Tuesday. Looking back, the AAF was a developmental league with its flaws. But at the same time, fans in those cities I mentioned previously, San Antonio, Orlando, San Diego and several others keep getting teams and leagues ripped away when pro football is at their doorstep. To see the AAF fall to ruin is a shame, but in the end, it just goes to show you truly how hard it is to follow in the NFL’s footsteps.
Jeffrey Babcock is a second-year student majoring in Communications. JB884128@wcupa.edu