The Alliance of American Football is a new developmental league that gives former and aspiring NFL players and hopefuls a chance to showcase their talents, extend their playing careers and provides a path back into the league for those who flamed out or couldn’t cut it. After a hot start to their inaugural season, the young league is in danger of having its promising flame snuffed out in its infancy.
Without the assistance of the NFLPA, the official players union, they could fold after just one season if the union doesn’t allow the AAF to use young players from NFL rosters. Majority investor Tom Dundon said that the league is in serious jeopardy of being shut down if the NFLPA doesn’t lend a hand.
“If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a developmental league,” Dundon told USA TODAY Sports. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”
If they permit their young players to participate and get a chance to grow by taking live reps in actual game action against players at or around their own skill level, it could actually prove to be beneficial for their development. Many of these young players don’t get a chance to see the field outside of OTA’s (organized team activities) and training camp in the summer and practice in the fall when the regular season finally rolls around.
An official of the player’s union divulged that they have serious concerns about the potential risks that could incur if players were allowed to be lent to the AAF, the main one being that it would violate the terms of the current CBA (collective bargaining agreement). Allowing them to take part in the AAF in the early spring would also violate the statute of the CBA that prevents teams from holding mandatory workouts and practices throughout the offseason.
Another concern is the fear that teams might abuse their authority and force their young players to play in the AAF as a condition for them to be considered for a roster spot come fall, but a growing counter argument is that these young players would actually welcome a chance to see the field and get live reps in the offseason rather than sit out or just be used on scout team in the fall.
The Alliance is hoping that they are granted permission to use practice squad players, particularly No.3 quarterbacks and young offensive linemen starting next season if there is one. These two types of players usually are the kind of developmental players that need a little more extra time to acclimate to the pro game thus they are usually the ones that make up the majority of practice squads.
Dundon, who invested $250 million into the league back in February to make sure that they could pay bills and operating costs, said that they’re contemplating all of their options and are expected to come to a decision about future of the league in the next two days.