The American Alliance of Football, also known as the AAF, has "suspended operations" as of Wednesday, with the possible cause being a lack of financial support.
It is not all dire, as there is still some hope that the league will fix whatever issues it is experiencing and bounce back better than before; but again, the ship of the AAF not only appears to be sinking in its maiden voyage, but there may not be a way to save the league.
If the AAF sounds foreign yet familiar, it is because players like Johnny Manziel, who started playing for the Montreal Allouetes in the Canadian Football League after a failed start in the NFL, had signed with the Memphis Express, which is in the AAF. It is not quite a minor league, but it is not the NFL either.
Think of the AAF as the middle child of football—interesting and possibly promising, but easily forgotten while fans follow the mainstream NCAA football and the NFL. The league appeared promising with two former NFL executives leading this new league, drawing appeal from pulling big-name past NFL and NCAA athletes whose fans tuned in to see.
Essentially, the AAF had a net-catching quality with players who were not in either league, which was the entire appeal. It was a second chance for players to prove themselves. Some former Mississippi State University athletes played for the nearby Birmingham Iron.
Beniquez Brown, Matthew Wells, LaDarius Perkins and Nick James are all former MSU players in the AAF. Their future, as well as numerous other football players' futures, are not only uncertain, but doubtful as the AAF is on the verge of collapse.
The outlook is not good, and the email sent to AAF personnel makes it look even worse. Albert Breer, an NFL sports reporter for Sports Illustrated, posted "text of the email that went out to AAF personal a few minutes ago announcing they’re suspending football operations" on Twitter.
The last paragraph in this email read, “For those employees whom we do not contact individually to discuss an ongoing role or alternative arrangements, your employment termination date is effective Wednesday, April 3, 2019, and your will be paid through this date. We are extraordinarily appreciative for all of your efforts.”
Former AAF player Johnny Manziel has tweeted about this issue, especially in regards to how the players will get paid.
“If you’re an AAF player and the league does dissolve. The last check you got will be the last one that you get. No lawsuit or anything else will get you your bread. Save your money and keep your head up. It’s the only choice at this point unless something drastic happens,” Manziel said on Twitter.
Obviously, this does not seem like a hopeful outlook for AAF players. Nor is the outlook good for the league’s investors, as Tom Dundon had reportedly promised to put $250 million in to the league may lose the $75 million he had already invested.
Another tweet from Manziel reasserts the notion that money is what killed the AAF, the same thing that killed the XFL and the USFL.
“Just the reality of this unfortunate situation... great concept, good football on the field and fun for fans to watch. Just not enough money to go around which has been the main problem with “other” leagues for a long time,” Manziel tweeted.
Although these are Manziel’s thoughts, it is a glimpse into what AAF players might be thinking, as growing uncertainty of its future now plagues the league.
As this mess unravels more and more, hopefully some definite answers will surface. At this point in time, team staff, players, owners, even reporters and journalists are trying to put together the crumbled pieces of the AAF.