It has been a wild day for the spring AAF Spring football league, and in the words of legendary late actor Jack Palance and his character “Curley” in 1990s comedy movie “City Slickers” – “Day ain’t over yet.”
First, comes the information that the Alliance’s Chairman of the Board, Thomas Dundon– owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, has decided to suspend operations for the inaugural season after eight weeks of play. Dundon infused the league with a reported $70 million cash investment back in February to take over control.
Next, Dundon has given on-the-record interviews last week and again on Monday threatening to cease the AAF’s operations. That’s if there was not an agreement in place with the NFL Players Association for access to quality players and a pipeline to the NFL.
Dundon will apparently inform the players of his decision to suspend operations in a 5 p.m. statement that will be released to them.
A league source said to F.F.I. via text response Tuesday afternoon, “it’s done (the league). He was the guy with the money. Nobody can get paid now.”
However, that’s not the whole story.
Not even close.
First, coach Steve Spurrier of Orlando Apollo’s confirmed to local Orlando TV they are being told the league is suspended. He took it a step further and said while disappointed, the Apollos should be considered league champions with their 7 – 1 record:
— Christian Bruey (@CBrueyWFTV) April 2, 2019
This came on the heels of Spurrier telling the Orlando Sentinel on Monday night the league had enough money to finish the regular season over the next two weeks and play the postseason it late in April.
Next, came the reporting of Ben Kercheval of CBSSports.com, who has been covering the AAF since it began. Kercheval reported earlier Tuesday afternoon that league founders Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian, have been fighting with Dundon for 24 hours about his decision to stop playing, despite the fact that the league met payroll on Friday prior to this weekend’s playing of games.
When we presented our source with Kercheval’s reporting that Polian and Ebersol were trying to potentially keep the league afloat (at least for the postseason) our source conceded: that there may be other options that not everyone knows about yet for Tuesday or in the near future.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweeted earlier in the day that one of Dundons main motivations was apparently to gain access to the gambling app technology and user data from the games being played that the AAF already had in place. And, by infusing the league, he would be able to own that technology and use it for other opportunities or ventures.
Perception inside the AAF is that Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon bought a majority stake in the league simply for the gambling app being developed.
Source: "Dundon got the technology he wanted and he's now minus one rather large headache."
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 2, 2019
This is yet another example of what is apparently being fought about at the highest level of the AAF on Tuesday afternoon behind the scenes.
And further, common sense indicates that if Ebersol, Polian and others (besides Dundon) wanted to cancel the remaining two weekends of the regular season (saving money in the short term), they would still be able to play the postseason in a couple of weeks by emerging with other funding, if they wanted.
Orlando at 7 – 1 and Birmingham already clinched the Eastern Playoff spots outright. The AAF could declare Arizona and San Antonio as the Western Conference playoff teams, as they are both 5 – 3 and two games in front of the other two Western teams after eight weeks.
The Alliance is scheduled to have semifinal games on April 20th and then, play their championship game on Saturday night April 27th at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility known as “The Star” in Frisco, Texas.
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