After 7 Weeks, the AAF is in Trouble

After 7 Weeks, the AAF is in Trouble

The American of Alliance Football, AAF for short, might shut down within a matter of days. Will it be the end of AAF betting? Check out why that’s the case and whether there’s any hope for the 7-week football league.

After 7 Weeks, the AAF is in Trouble

Majority Owner Tom Dundon Wants to be an NFL Developmental League

The name Tom Dundon isn’t a familiar one to most sports fans. If you like hockey you might know who he is because Dundon owns the Carolina Hurricanes. That’s not how he made his fortune, though. He made his fortune by becoming the primary landowner of Portland, Michigan.

Dundon decided to create the AAF, and invest enough to become the primary owner, because he saw major dollar signs in the AAF’s future. That’s why most business people invest in something.

From Dundon’s point of view, the NFL needed a development league much like Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL have. All three of those leagues have developmental leagues where players can spend time training and learning about their sport. Once players battle some time in the developmental league, they then move up to the major league. There, they can begin their real professional careers.

The MLB model, of which all developmental leagues are based, works for hockey, baseball, and basketball for different reasons.

In baseball and hockey, players must increase various specific skills. They can’t just start hitting a 97 miles per hour slider. They must build their hand eye coordination before getting to that point. Baseball players continually develop throughout their careers. The first stepping stone is Triple A ball.

Hockey’s the same way. The very good hockey players, the best of the best, can go right into the NHL. However, many hockey players learn how to play at the pro level in the IFL. There, they discover the nuances between pro hockey and college hockey.

The NBA’s developmental league, called the NBA Summer League, is a way for teams to introduce players to the NBA. Most every NBA players plays at least one summer in the NBA Summer League. Some might return for two or even three summers before they’re ready to become a full time player in the NBA.

Dundon Miscalculated the NFL’s Desire for a Developmental League

Tom Dundon made a strange miscalculation that’s sort of surprising. Dundon thought that just like Major League Baseball and the NBA, the NFL would want a developmental league. What Dundon didn’t really consider was that football, unlike the other three major sports, requires more pure athleticism than true skill.

Yes, the quarterback must have a lot of skill. But outside quarterbacks, there isn’t a lot of specific skill. Hockey players must know how to skate, basketball players must know how to dribble while moving, and baseball players must know all sorts of specific skills.

Football players must know how to tackle, catch, run, and carry the football. Athletes who don’t already have most of those skills won’t even make it to taxi squads on NFL teams.

The other miscalculation was not realizing that the NFL already has a developmental league. It’s called the bench. Players on the bench develop because they practice every week with starters in the NFL.

Dundon Knows the AAF is a Losing Venture

Dundon knows that unless the NFL and the NFL Players Association agrees to allow the AAF to sign young players instead of just NFL castoffs, the AAF is doomed. It will bleed cash until Dundon must shut it down.

So far, the NFL and NFLPA have both shunned Dundon’s desire to turn the AAF into an NFL Developmental League. They never will agree to that because they don’t have to. The NFL develops their own players.

Not only that, the NFL tried their own developmental league called NFL Europe that failed to catch on. Finally, if the NFL really wants to develop a player, the player often just goes to Canada and plays in the CFL for a year or two.

Tom Dundon made a gamble and it didn’t pay off. It might be sad for American Alliance of Football fans, but for Tom Dundon, shutting the league makes the most sense.

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