UPDATE: The Alliance of American Football suspended operations Tuesday afternoon.
After eight weeks of games and less than a full season, league owner Tom Dundon made the call to suspend all operations, league co-founder Bill Polian told ESPN.com.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” Polian said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
The Alliance of American Football appears on the brink of suspending operations before its first season is complete.
Pro Football Talk reports that the AAF will suspend operations Tuesday, though it’s not folding entirely … yet.
All @TheAAF football operations will be suspended in the next few hours, per source with knowledge of situation. League is not folding, yet. But it's heading that way.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 2, 2019
Majority investor Tom Dundon, who sank $250 million in the league in February, has said he’s unsure the project would extend into the weekend.
The league is heading into its next-to-last weekend of the regular season. The league’s San Antonio franchise, the league’s biggest success in terms of attendance, was set to play its game at 11 a.m. on CBS-TV against Johnny Manziel and the Memphis Express as a prelude to a day of sports on the network that would conclude with college basketball’s Final Four.
If the league folds today, it would have lasted 52 days from its first game to end. The Commanders are 5-3 this season after losing to the Arizona Hotshots on Sunday. San Antonio remains in line to make the playoffs if the season does continue.
“It’s pretty fluid. It’s day to day, I would say,” Dundon told SportsBusiness Daily on Monday, noting he would know more later in the week.
Action Network reported Tuesday, the AFF would suspend all football operations. Dundon, also the majority owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, has lost about $70 million on his $250 million investment.
The decision is being made against the wishes of co-founders Ebersol and NFL Hall of Famer Polian.
The league’s initial concept was for it to be a farm system of sorts for the NFL, much like minor-league baseball is to the major leagues.
But the NFL Players’ Association hasn’t granted the AAF permission to use backup NFL players, particularly those who have not seen action in NFL games.
“It is just what we think would make this the most compelling league,” Dundon told SportsBusiness Daily. “We don’t know what they [the NFLPA] are going to do, if they will do it. That is kind of our thought. That’s what we are trying to figure out right now.”
The NFLPA hasn’t responded to Dundon’s claim, but an unidentified union official told USA Today recently the group has “serious concerns” about letting the AAF borrow active NFL members.
Fans have made professional football the nation’s most popular spectator sport for many reasons.
But the apparent demise of the AAF, for whatever reason, appears to show that even fans can have limits about too much football.