AAF Game/Season Thread

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Wow -- how did that happen? I mean, that's a serious misjudgment. Unless there was some investor that dropped out that they were counting on, or they had Dundon waiting in the wings from the outset, that's some pretty serious shit.
 

bankshot1

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How does a discount pro-league need $250 million to make payroll? And who invests $250 million into a business that teeters on insolvency in 2 weeks? What return can you promise this guy that remotely make sense?
 

johnmd20

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How does a discount pro-league need $250 million to make payroll? And who invests $250 million into a business that teeters on insolvency in 2 weeks? What return can you promise this guy that remotely make sense?
Yes. A lot of this doesn't check out.
 

Super Nomario

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How does a discount pro-league need $250 million to make payroll? And who invests $250 million into a business that teeters on insolvency in 2 weeks? What return can you promise this guy that remotely make sense?
They don't need $250 MM to make payroll; payroll for the whole year is like a tenth of that. Dundon and AAF chairmon Ebersol are both claiming this is an investment that has been in the works for a while. I guess that makes sense; the timing is kind of weird, though.
 

bankshot1

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This is the curious quote from the above link.

"David Glenn of TheAthletic.com reports that Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon dumped $250 million into the Alliance of American Football last week in order to save the upstart operation from imploding after only one week.

Absent the nine-figure infusion, the AAF may have missed payroll last Friday."
 

steveluck7

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I gotta believe that the league's "financial issues" are being overstated in that article. For Dundon to "dump" $250 million into something that was in such dire straits would be insane.
 

Awesome Fossum

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If the AAF wanted the benefit of the doubt, they shouldn't have obviously misrepresented the attendance last week.

I'm not totally following all this talk of payroll being only $2.5 million a week. That's just for the base pay of the active roster players ($7K*44*8=$2.46M). That doesn't account for the performance bonuses that supposedly exist, inactive players, the coaches, etc. Football Scoop estimated the coaching budget for the league at $16 million for the season.
 

Awesome Fossum

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ESPN: There were reports of payroll issues with the league in Week 1. Did your investment directly cover those costs? How does that work, as far as where the money goes?

Dundon: It's a little sloppy to say that on the payroll side. But I provide capital, and they have bills to pay. To directly correlate one to the other might not be right, but I made my investment on Thursday and people get paid on Friday. There were other people the league was talking to and they had other commitments from investors. I can't perfectly say what would have happened if I hadn't [invested], but I know I invested on Thursday.
http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/26033326/qa-tom-dundon-250-million-well-spent-bunch-jerks

He sounds like a cool dude. I'm not sure he totally realizes what he bought, but football fans are lucky to have him.
 

joe dokes

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Not an accountant, but if the things goes belly up, isn't it just a nice tax deduction for a guy who was probably handed a fucktillion dollars as a result of last year's tax package?
 

maufman

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Not an accountant, but if the things goes belly up, isn't it just a nice tax deduction for a guy who was probably handed a fucktillion dollars as a result of last year's tax package?
Even among the uber-wealthy, very few can use a $250 million capital loss. Even if Dundon is the exception to the rule, the most he would save in taxes would be $50 million. So no, this isn’t a tax play — if he has any motive other than earning a return on his investment, it’s probably ingratiating himself with the NFL owners who want this thing to succeed, if only to block Vince McMahon’s forthcoming XFL 2.0.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Everyone talks about the NFL as an exit strategy for the AAF, which I just don't see. If the NFL cared to invest in player development, they'd just expand roster sizes or the practice squad, which would be much cheaper and probably more effective than running a minor league. Or they'd still be funding NFL Europe, which also served marketing purposes.

I don't think the NFL is sweating the XFL at all -- or at least they shouldn't be. The XFL is starting from a much, much better position than the AAF, but they still face a long journey to sustainability, let alone ever getting to a place where they cause the NFL any nuisance whatsoever.
 

maufman

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Everyone talks about the NFL as an exit strategy for the AAF, which I just don't see. If the NFL cared to invest in player development, they'd just expand roster sizes or the practice squad, which would be much cheaper and probably more effective than running a minor league. Or they'd still be funding NFL Europe, which also served marketing purposes.

I don't think the NFL is sweating the XFL at all -- or at least they shouldn't be. The XFL is starting from a much, much better position than the AAF, but they still face a long journey to sustainability, let alone ever getting to a place where they cause the NFL any nuisance whatsoever.
Vince McMahon’s strategy is to appeal to fans who are disillusioned by the NFL for one reason or the other. The AAF’s strategy, on the other hand, seems to be to target people whose main beef with the NFL is its long offseason. It’s hardly an existential issue, but if there’s going to be a spring football league, the NFL would rather it be the AAF, because they’d rather not have an upstart league with a loudmouth celebrity founder who relishes shitting on their product.

I don’t think the NFL will go so far as to invest in the AAF, but it certainly seems they have encouraged coaches to take AAF gigs, and I wouldn’t put it past them to introduce Ebersol and Polian to prospective investors.
 

maufman

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I was surprised to see that the median value of an MLS franchise is about $250 million.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2018/11/14/mls-most-valuable-teams-2018/?src=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#265b50c02ee9

Dundon’s investment makes more sense to me now. The AAF isn’t going to be as successful as MLS anytime soon, but if a franchise like Sporting KC is worth $270 million, it’s not too hard to imagine AAF’s founders cashing out in 3-4 years by selling off 8 franchises for $50-60 million each. (Not saying that will happen — my bet is Dundon loses money — but it’s not as delusional a bet as I thought when I first heard about it.)
 

Awesome Fossum

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Vince McMahon’s strategy is to appeal to fans who are disillusioned by the NFL for one reason or the other. The AAF’s strategy, on the other hand, seems to be to target people whose main beef with the NFL is its long offseason. It’s hardly an existential issue, but if there’s going to be a spring football league, the NFL would rather it be the AAF, because they’d rather not have an upstart league with a loudmouth celebrity founder who relishes shitting on their product.

I don’t think the NFL will go so far as to invest in the AAF, but it certainly seems they have encouraged coaches to take AAF gigs, and I wouldn’t put it past them to introduce Ebersol and Polian to prospective investors.
I disagree that the XFL's strategy is targeting disillusioned NFL fans. I don't think that's supported by any move the league has made, perhaps save putting a team in St. Louis. McMahon "worked heel" in 2001 because he thought it would work, and it backfired spectacularly. Everything that's happened since Oliver Luck became the commissioner has been cordial, to the point that Luck has said that he's kept the NFL in the loop on the league's plans.

Seven of the eight teams are in NFL markets. They're sharing NFL buildings in Tampa Bay, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles*. The XFL is banking on current NFL fans being willing to pay for more football.

Like you, I wouldn't doubt that the NFL would be willing to introduce Ebersol to potential investors. I would think the NFL would be thrilled that people are willing to fund developmental leagues for them.

What makes you say that the NFL has encouraged coaches to take AAF jobs? I don't doubt you; that's just not something I had heard.
 

maufman

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What makes you say that the NFL has encouraged coaches to take AAF jobs? I don't doubt you; that's just not something I had heard.
I was just reacting to the quality of coaches that the AAF was able to pull. Seems likely to me that those coaches got a little encouragement — would someone like Mike Martz, for example, take an AAF gig if he thought it might hurt his chances of landing another NFL job? Could you imagine Martz coaching an XFL team?
 

Fred not Lynn

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I was surprised to see that the median value of an MLS franchise is about $250 million.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2018/11/14/mls-most-valuable-teams-2018/?src=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#265b50c02ee9

Dundon’s investment makes more sense to me now. The AAF isn’t going to be as successful as MLS anytime soon, but if a franchise like Sporting KC is worth $270 million, it’s not too hard to imagine AAF’s founders cashing out in 3-4 years by selling off 8 franchises for $50-60 million each. (Not saying that will happen — my bet is Dundon loses money — but it’s not as delusional a bet as I thought when I first heard about it.)
The comparison to MLS is interesting. While we here critique AAF as nothing but low-level minor league football, somehow MLS has created an optical illusion of being, well, “MAJOR” league despite being the soccer equivalent of Indy league baseball, while on the global totem pole the AAF is arguably the third best American football league on earth, and at a much higher relative level.
 

Phil Plantier

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Awesome Fossum

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I was just reacting to the quality of coaches that the AAF was able to pull. Seems likely to me that those coaches got a little encouragement — would someone like Mike Martz, for example, take an AAF gig if he thought it might hurt his chances of landing another NFL job? Could you imagine Martz coaching an XFL team?
I don't think there would be any reason for concern regarding the NFL discriminating against coaches from any league.

The AAF targeted retired or ready for retirement coaches who would be attracted to what amounts to a part time job. Martz hasn't coached in the NFL since 2011. I definitely think we'll see guys like that in the XFL, for better or worse.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I was surprised to see that the median value of an MLS franchise is about $250 million.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2018/11/14/mls-most-valuable-teams-2018/?src=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#265b50c02ee9

Dundon’s investment makes more sense to me now. The AAF isn’t going to be as successful as MLS anytime soon, but if a franchise like Sporting KC is worth $270 million, it’s not too hard to imagine AAF’s founders cashing out in 3-4 years by selling off 8 franchises for $50-60 million each. (Not saying that will happen — my bet is Dundon loses money — but it’s not as delusional a bet as I thought when I first heard about it.)
Another factor that cannot be discounted is that of ego and control. Dundon is now a player.....a major player in the game of football who presumably gained quite a large voice in exchange for that $250m check.
 

Fred not Lynn

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I'm not a fan of Major League Soccer, but this is an inapt comparison. If you use average attendance as a metric, MLS ranks ninth among all sports worldwide

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_attendance_figures_at_domestic_professional_sports_leagues

There are issues with the league, of course, and New England is not getting the best representation, but it's not independent baseball.
Apologies for the lack of clarity, the comparison was solely on the level of play, not attendance/revenue/etc... I guess my point was that MLS’s ratio of level of play to commercial success is beyond what you might expect.
 

DrewDawg

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why would talent be a source of risk for the league folding? Either you're getting revenue from tickets and media rights, or you're not. Either you have a clear path towards stability from those revenue sources as things mature in the next few years, or you don't. I don't think anybody is not-watching because the teams are fielding NFL-wannabe talent instead of lower-tier-NFL talent, everything I've heard is that the talent level makes for a perfectly watchable product.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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What is the optimal time of year for this league, do you think? I wonder if minor league football would work better as a late summer/early fall enterprise, as an hors d'oeuvre for the forthcoming NFL and college season and possibly finishing up with playoffs and the league championship as a Tuesday/Wednesday evening palate-cleanser over the first few weeks of September. Spring football just doesn't feel right...but the demand in late summer, when baseball and the MLS would be its only real competition, would be much better. (I know many players would be angling for preseason camp invites at that time of year, which would be possibly the biggest problem with this idea - that and the summertime temperatures across the country, of course - but perhaps you could add some transitional roster spots for each team guaranteed for AAF players once the AAF season is over?)
 

steveluck7

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Welp, that was fun while it lasted

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.
 

8slim

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The NFLPA/player loan issue seems like a complete smokescreen. It's apparent that the only way for a football minor league to survive is to be willing to run in the red for a long time, perhaps perpetually. There's just not enough revenue to support it from media, tickets, etc. There needs to be a deep pocketed investor(s) willing to withstand losses. From a Darren Rovell article, it sounds like the one the AAF had lined up inititally flaked out on them:

The league’s main football investor, whose name has not appeared in the press to this point, is Reggie Fowler. Fowler, who was initially going to buy the Minnesota Vikings before having financial issues, committed $170 million to the AAF, according to sources. After being vetted and suggested to the AAF by NFL executives themselves, Fowler had only put up $28 million by the time Dundon swooped in.

https://www.actionnetwork.com/nfl/aaf-new-order-threatens-end-league-70-million-darren-rovell

 

pokey_reese

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I assume that the thinking was that if they could get NFL bubble players into the league, they could use it as a development league and collect money from the pro teams that would benefit, a la the MLB system. But to do it that way, first the NFL would have to structurally change how it views rosters and players rights, have a much larger draft so that they could field full 'minor league' teams, etc., no?
 

Super Nomario

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I assume that the thinking was that if they could get NFL bubble players into the league, they could use it as a development league and collect money from the pro teams that would benefit, a la the MLB system. But to do it that way, first the NFL would have to structurally change how it views rosters and players rights, have a much larger draft so that they could field full 'minor league' teams, etc., no?
The NFL previously did this with NFL Europe. Rather than full minor league squads (much less the multiple levels minor league baseball has) each team would probably send a small contingent of players. Kind of like the Arizona Fall League.
 

YTF

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What is the optimal time of year for this league, do you think? I wonder if minor league football would work better as a late summer/early fall enterprise, as an hors d'oeuvre for the forthcoming NFL and college season and possibly finishing up with playoffs and the league championship as a Tuesday/Wednesday evening palate-cleanser over the first few weeks of September. Spring football just doesn't feel right...but the demand in late summer, when baseball and the MLS would be its only real competition, would be much better. (I know many players would be angling for preseason camp invites at that time of year, which would be possibly the biggest problem with this idea - that and the summertime temperatures across the country, of course - but perhaps you could add some transitional roster spots for each team guaranteed for AAF players once the AAF season is over?)
Unless you're going to play in all warm weather or domed venues, winter doesn't work. You mention late summer/early spring. IMO summer is too damn hot and you're going to compete with Major and Minor League baseball for both ticket sales and TV ratings. Early fall? Fall starts the third week of September. At that point you're 3 weeks into the NFL and college football seasons. I'm not so sure that anyone is going to give a flying fig about the end of your season when they have the NFL on 3 times a week and college football 4-5 times a week. I think all things considered they might have picked the best time of the year to try to generate any sort of interest. Get off the ground before the NBA, NHL and NCAA playoffs start.
 

8slim

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Unless you're going to play in all warm weather or domed venues, winter doesn't work. You mention late summer/early spring. IMO summer is too damn hot and you're going to compete with Major and Minor League baseball for both ticket sales and TV ratings. Early fall? Fall starts the third week of September. At that point you're 3 weeks into the NFL and college football seasons. I'm not so sure that anyone is going to give a flying fig about the end of your season when they have the NFL on 3 times a week and college football 4-5 times a week. I think all things considered they might have picked the best time of the year to try to generate any sort of interest. Get off the ground before the NBA, NHL and NCAA playoffs start.
I agree, starting the AAF the week after the Super Bowl was very smart. And the TV ratings for week 1 reflected that. Literally just yesterday the league was talking about adding a Detroit franchise next year, and that they could add northern teams in domed stadiums for geographic diversity. Hell, I don't even think they needed to do that. College lacrosse plays in outdoor stadiums in the northeast in late February/March, the AAF could have backloaded northern outdoor home games in mid-March/April if they wanted.

This whole saga is bizarre. Feels like a lot of people were conned into thinking the league had funding.
 

mauidano

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In all seriousness, doesn’t Vince McMahon have a football league coming onboard relatively soon and does that have any effect one way or another on that or the AAF?
 

scottyno

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In all seriousness, doesn’t Vince McMahon have a football league coming onboard relatively soon and does that have any effect one way or another on that or the AAF?
XFL is supposed to be coming next spring, though as of now they have no tv deal or any players. AAF players had an exclusivity clause in their contract that would have kept them from playing in any other leagues (besides the nfl) according to someone in the league I talked to, but I assume that suspending the league would make them all free to go anywhere.
 

maufman

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Albert Breer reporting via Twitter on rumor that Dundon invested mainly to get access to AAF’s app, which may have broader gaming applications.


The AAF app is pretty slick, but color me skeptical that it’s worth $70 million (the amount Dundon reportedly lost).
 

RetractableRoof

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Albert Breer reporting via Twitter on rumor that Dundon invested mainly to get access to AAF’s app, which may have broader gaming applications.


The AAF app is pretty slick, but color me skeptical that it’s worth $70 million (the amount Dundon reportedly lost).
Has anyone seen an older gentleman wearing a #38 jersey lurking around Dundon's offices?
 

PedroKsBambino

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Who will Polian petition to change a rule so this can't happen to him again?
 

djbayko

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Albert Breer reporting via Twitter on rumor that Dundon invested mainly to get access to AAF’s app, which may have broader gaming applications.


The AAF app is pretty slick, but color me skeptical that it’s worth $70 million (the amount Dundon reportedly lost).
It might not be worth $70M in development costs, but given the sudden growth in this area, time to market could have been a big factor. It also may have been viewed as a consolation prize in terms of his calculus on the deal if he could swing the AAF/NFL negotiations his way in the short term.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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The XFL managed a full season and a championship game before ending and is coming back.

The AAF didn't even last a half-season and probably isn't coming back.

McMahon: 1
Ebersol: 0
 

BigJimEd

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XFL is supposed to be coming next spring, though as of now they have no tv deal or any players. AAF players had an exclusivity clause in their contract that would have kept them from playing in any other leagues (besides the nfl) according to someone in the league I talked to, but I assume that suspending the league would make them all free to go anywhere.
We also have Ricky Williams and his Freedom Football League coming soon. I think they still have ownership opportunities if anyone wants to get in early.