The upstart Alliance of American Football could fold after just one season if it can’t reach a deal to use young NFL players on its team rosters, according to Tom Dundon, the league’s chairman and top investor.
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The AAF, a springtime league which began play in February, was founded in part to serve as a developmental ground for players attempting to break into the NFL. Dundon, who invested $250 million in the league amid reports it was struggling to make payroll, told USA Today that the AAF has been unable to reach terms with the NFL Players’ Association on an agreement to allow players on NFL practice squads to play on its teams.
"If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," Dundon said. "We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league."
The AAF is reportedly seeking permission to use players on practice squads, such as third-string quarterbacks and young linemen, in a bid to become a feeder system for the NFL. Union officials have balked at a potential deal, citing concerns that it would violate restrictions on offseason workouts within the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. The risk of serious injuries that could force prospects to miss NFL games – and hurt their long-term income potential – has also hampered talks.
Dundon said the AAF will make a determination about its future within the next two days.
The AAF is entering Week 8 of its 10-game regular season. The league signs all of its players to identical 3-year, $250,000 contracts and allows them to leave for the NFL if they have the opportunity.
AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol told FOX Business earlier this year that the league would have to spend at least $750 million in its first few years of existence to survive.