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Alliance of American Football suspends operations eight games into inaugural season

After weeks of speculation surrounding the fledgling league, the AAF finally suspended play in 2019 on Tuesday

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AAF: Atlanta Legends at Arizona Hotshots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the future once appeared bright for the Alliance of American Football, the realities of the recent investment from Tom Dundon became starkly apparent after it emerged that the majority owner had decided to suspend operations just eight weeks into the inaugural season.

Initially hailed as the savior of the AAF when it was reported he had invested $250 million into the league just a few months ago, Dundon opted to pull the plug when it became clear that he would not be getting the immediate cooperation from the NFLPA that he was looking for. Seeking a formal affiliation with the NFL that would guarantee the fledgling league players at the fringe of NFL rosters and also significantly increase the value of his investment, Dundon’s attempts to leverage the NFLPA into giving him the agreement he wanted have unsurprisingly fallen flat.

His decision to end play at this stage of the season appears to have come as a surprise to the rest of the AAF, including co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, with Polian issuing this statement on Tuesday and reported by Darren Rovell of The Action Network.

“When Mr. Dundon took over it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.”

“The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity …”

“I sincerely regret that many that believed in this project will see their hopes and efforts unrewarded. They gave their best for which I am deeply grateful. Unfortunately, Mr. Dundon has elected this course of action.”

AAF employees were informed of the league’s suspension via a somewhat impersonal mass email sent out to players, coaches and staff members alike. A note that also hints at the AAF’s hopes to return with new investment in 2020.

And as the AAF disintegrates, the truth behind the way the league was poorly managed is just starting to emerge.

While some reports have attempted to lay the blame for league’s failure at the feet of the NFL and NFLPA for failing to negotiate with the AAF, it would seem that most blame Dundon for the league’s premature end.

For players like former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Jamar Summers who was one of the AAF’s standout performers, the exposure the league gave him should be enough to earn him a spot in an NFL training camp this year. But for many of the other players in the league, their best shot of ever playing professional football again might be when the XFL launches in 2020.