Gone So Soon: A Look Back At The Alliance Of American Football
The AAF yesterday suspended operations before the end of its inaugural season. The startup league that was formed by Charlie Ebersol just over a year ago at times appeared as though it could be a suitable developmental league for the NFL. However, with another chapter now seemingly closed in the book of spring football leagues, THE DAILY takes a look back at some of the highlights and controversies the AAF endured during its short existence.
March 20, 2018: Charlie Ebersol announces plans to launch a single-entity spring football league to begin play in February '19. Ebersol's father, Dick, will be on the AAF's BOD and the league will have financial backing from The Chernin Group and Founders Fund. Bill Polian is set to run football operations. CBS Sports is already signed on as a broadcast partner.
April 7: Steve Spurrier is announced as the AAF's first coach, set to lead the Orlando franchise. Spurrier would later be joined in the coaching ranks by notable names like Mike Singletary, Mike Martz, Dennis Erickson and Rick Neuheisel.
June 20: San Antonio is announced as the AAF's final market, joining Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Diego as cities housing AAF teams.
September 10: MGM Resorts becomes the AAF's official sports betting partner.
October 23: The AAF announces its championship game will be held at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on April 27.
January 31, 2019: Turner Sports and NFL Network sign on as broadcast partners. TNT will carry one regular-season and one playoff game, while B/R Live will carry a weekly game. NFL Net will carry two games per week.
February 9: The AAF debuts in primetime on CBS to mostly positive reviews. The regionalized coverage draws a 2.1 overnight rating. Crowd sizes are deemed a success and the league is seen as a potentially viable developmental product for the NFL.
February 18: Hurricanes Owner Tom Dundon is named AAF Chair after committing to invest up to $250M in the league. Ebersol dismisses reports that Dundon's investment was a financial bailout. Reports had surfaced about the AAF nearly missing payroll after its first week of play; Ebersol said there was an issue with the league switching payroll companies. Spurrier says an initial investor backed out, leading to Dundon's involvement.
March 6: Polian states the AAF has held informal discussions with execs from NFL teams about potentially loaning young NFL players to the AAF to be developed.
March 16: Johnny Manziel becomes the biggest name to join the AAF after the CFL deems him ineligible to play in its league. Manziel generates some excitement for the Memphis Express and the league on the whole, but some pundits compare the move to a last ditch effort to bring attention to the initiative.
March 20: The AAF moves its championship game from Las Vegas to The Star in Frisco, leading some to believe it could help strengthen the league's ties to the NFL.
March 27: Dundon says the AAF could be in danger of folding because of its inability to secure cooperation from the NFLPA on using young players from NFL rosters.
April 2: The AAF suspends operations three weeks before the end of its first regular season. Dundon cites the league's inability to survive without a formal affiliation with the NFL.