- Kevin C. Cox/AAF/Getty Images
- The Alliance of American Football abruptly ended on Tuesday, canceling the final two weeks of the season and the playoffs as the startup league closed up shop.
- The decision to fold the league came as a surprise to players, with some left stranded without help for travel, or worse.
- Some players said that they had been stuck with hotel bills by their teams and left without help from the league.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) has met an unfortunate end.
After eight weeks of play, the decision was made to cancel the final two weeks of the season and the playoffs, bringing a sudden stop to one of the more promising spring football leagues in recent memory.
League majority owner Tom Dundon, who took control of the AAF with a $250 million investment early in the season, made good on his threat to fold the league after demanding the NFL Players Association allow for players under contract to join the AAF.
Founders Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol had said from the league’s inception that their strategy was built around a sustainable business model, with players’ contracts set for three years as the league planned to come into its own.
But after early financial troubles, Dundon’s investment made him the most powerful voice in the room, and on Tuesday, the league officially suspended football operations.
The sudden decision came as a surprise to players and coaches across the league, with some teams still practicing as rumors of the league’s end swirled on social media.
— Chase Shannon (@chase_shannon) April 2, 2019
The abrupt ending to the league also left many players in unfortunate circumstances – after moving across the country to play football, players were reportedly left with no resources from the league to help accommodate travel home.
Source says AAF teams making players pay for their own flights home. What a clown show this was.
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) April 2, 2019
Unorganized is an understatement…kicked out of our rooms (that weren’t paid apparently) 17 hours away from home with a car full of my belongings and nowhere to go…#JoinTheAlliance @TheAAF @CharlieEbersol @TDCanes @espn @BleacherReport @aafexpress
— Anthony Manzo-Lewis (@amanzolewis) April 2, 2019
For some players, the situation was even worse.
Adrien Robinson, who played tight end for the Memphis Express, said on Twitter that he woke up to hotel bills of more than $2,500.
@TheAAF I woke up to over a $2500 charge pending on my account from the Sonesta hotel our team stayed in. I called the bank and Memphis team president. My only option is to dispute the charges on Monday. The same thing happened to other players on our team @ohrnberger
— Adrien Robinson (@ItsARob8One) April 4, 2019
Some of Robinson’s teammates reportedly dealt with similar issues. According to Deadspin’s Patrick Redford, lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman was also left on the hook for his boarding.
“We were told housing was free,” he said, according to Deadspin. “I got charged $1,781 when I was only there less than three weeks and a whole month only costs $700.”
Tuley-Tillman was asked by the publication if he received any assistance from the team or league. He said the organizations “cut me off and said they can’t do anything for me,” according to Deadspin.
Similar chaotic financial situations were heard of throughout the league.
AAF players were offered the promise of another chance at football, and with the league’s goal of developing its relationship with the NFL, the opportunity undoubtedly felt real for many of them.
At the start, it looked like the league had a real shot at making it – a few exciting plays in the first week of action and relatively OK ratings throughout the season gave the sense that the project may not be as doomed as so many leagues that had come before it.
But instead, the league came to an abrupt end, not even completing a season of play before folding.
For a few players though, eight weeks was enough – ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Thursday that wide receiver Rashad Ross and cornerback Keith Reaser had both signed NFL deals with the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.