Right after what was arguably the most boring Super Bowl (LIII) earlier this year when the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, a new football league attempted to capitalize on the end of the NFL season with an expansion league.
It didn’t last. The American Alliance of Football League (AAF) suddenly and rather shockingly crashed and burned faster than the lost city of Pompeii this week.
And what the AAF executives and investors did to its players was downright malicious and probably even worse than you thought.
Football lovers go through withdraw symptoms during this time period and the answer to that was the AAF league. The concept was to acquire players who were basically bubble players of the NFL who couldn’t quite make it in.
Players were given a non-guaranteed three-year contract worth a total of $250,000 ($70,000 in 2019; $80,000 in 2020; $100,000 in 2021), with performance-based and fan-interaction incentives allowing for players to earn more.
Notice the words “non-guaranteed.” More on that in a bit.
It consisted of eight centrally owned and operated teams. In its inaugural 10-week season beginning on eight teams played each other on Saturdays and Sundays broadcasted on ESPN.
And they did it with undeniable malice.
Controlling owner Thomas Dundon wasn’t willing to give it anymore time for reasons that are unclear but initial speculation suggests that the league was hemorrhaging money with no signs of future upside.
You know that because they didn’t even wait to finish the season, especially when you consider that the championship game would be its biggest moneymaker so the fact that Dundon refused to wait is fairly odd.
Things got so much worse on the day that they suspended operations.
Rich Ohrnberger of Fox Sports broke the story about the AAF collapse and how detrimental the abuse was to the players.
Ohrnberger noted, “Players in Memphis came back to their hotels after news came down, and had their personal items waiting in the lobby. Kicked out of their lodgings.”
Not only that, but players and coaches were forced to pay for their own way home and all medical coverage was suspended immediately.
Salt Lake Stallions linebacker Gionni Paul broke his arm during the last game he played in and is now forced to pay for all the rehab and medical costs out of his own pocket.
These players were literally left out in the cold with no place to go. Paul, in particular,noted, “Now looking for an apartment. Need help finding an apartment. You can’t make this sh-t up.”
Ohrnberger also noted, “Team level staff members were asked to stay behind in markets to clean out office spaces (without pay)… and handle “refunds” …no clarity who will be receiving those refunds. This is a complete mess…”
This is such a gross level of executive abuse that it’s jaw-dropping.
Remember those words, “non-guaranteed?” That’s how Dundon was able to get away with this and these players have virtually no legal recourse. This is a miscarriage of justice.