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XFL sends up first salvo in looming AAF feud


The XFL is trying to make up for lost time. And throwing shade in the process.

In a Friday email sent to NFL agents, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck makes the pitch for players who don’t make the cut from 90 to 53 on NFL rosters to consider the XFL, even though the XFL won’t get started until 2020, one year after the Alliance of American Football.

The email opens with Luck explaining that he wants to make agents “aware of a number of issues related to spring football that may inhibit your client’s freedom in choosing to join our league when we launch in 2020.” As to the issue of player contracts, Luck says this: “Competitive leagues appear to be offering multi-year contracts that may have restrictions and or non-compete clauses that could severely limit your client’s’ ability to play for other leagues, including the XFL.”

While Luck doesn’t mention any “competitive leagues” by name, it’s clear that he’s talking about the one that starts playing games in February, the AAF.

Luck also touts the XFL’s marketing and intellectual property arrangements, explaining that the XFL will establish a Group Licensing Agreement for players, and warning that "[o]ther spring leagues may feature restrictive licensing agreements that limit your clients’ likeness rights and distribution; impose restrictions that may inhibit your clients’ licensing rights; and restrict their ability to participate in other licensing agreements, including the XFL GLA.”

Again, that’s clearly a reference to the AAF, which has a one-year head start in every aspect of building and executing a football business. And it makes sense for the XFL to be concerned.

As the land rush for players not wanted by the NFL begins, the AAF will try to get them to commit beyond 2019, making them unavailable to the XFL. The challenge for the XFL will be to get agents to insist on one-year deals with the AAF or, ideally from the XFL’s perspective, no deals at all.