Was I excited enough to watch more than, like, three games? I was not. To me, the more interesting part of the AAF quickly became its off-the-field machinations, including persistent rumors of financial issues, a surprise $250 million commitment from private equity executive Tom Dundon, a failed pursuit of Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow, and a lawsuit alleging a "conspiracy" behind the league's creation.
So the AAF's apparent demise this week was perhaps not a total surprise. The chaos surrounding it, though, certainly was. I'm Kevin Dowd. This is The Weekend Pitch. And since it was such a hectic first five days of April, this week's list is on the longer side—and the downfall of the AAF is one of 11 things you need to know from the past week:
1. The final whistleThe AAF suspended operations on Tuesday, with no apparent plans for a revival, bringing to an end a two-month stretch that will go down as a strange and abbreviated chapter in the annals of football lore. Here's more on the details.
From the outside, it can seem like a bit of a silly saga. But for those involved in the league, it's of course a serious, career-changing situation. And by almost every indication, the leadership of the AAF isn't exactly handling the flameout with aplomb.
Rich Ohrnberger, a former NFL player who did color commentary for the AAF's San Diego Fleet, spent much of the week detailing the mess on Twitter. Players were kicked out of their hotel, staff were notified of their firing with an anonymous letter, and the league still owes millions to its vendors from a training camp that occurred in January, per reports. It's unclear whether players who were injured during AAF action will continue to have their medical expenses covered.
It's all a bit confusing when you remember that, as we saw a few paragraphs ago, Tom Dundon committed to invest $250 million in the AAF in February, and the league's other deep-pocketed backers reportedly include Founders Fund and The Chernin Group. Where did all that money go?
Well, for starters, there maybe wasn't as much cash as it might have first appeared. The league's VC backers contributed less than $10 million, according to Axios, and Dundon only got around to investing $70 million of that committed $250 million, per other reports from this week. Another behind-the-scenes investor, Reggie Fowler, had previously pledged $170 million to the AAF, per The Action Network, but his actual investment reportedly totaled a little less than $30 million.
It's believed Dundon's majority takeover in February gave him carte blanche in league decision-making, and a statement from league co-founder Bill Polian certainly laid responsibility for the shutdown at Dundon's feet. The several million dollars it would apparently take to settle the AAF's accounts would be pocket change to AAF backers like Dundon, Peter Chernin and Peter Thiel, but they seem to be in no rush to make things right.