Redskins

Quick Links

Alliance of American Football League to suspend all operations

aaf.jpg
USA Today Sports

Alliance of American Football League to suspend all operations

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Alliance of American Football has ended its first season prematurely and told most employees that they will be terminated as of Wednesday.

Employees were notified of the decision in a letter from the AAF board on Tuesday afternoon. The board essentially is majority owner Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, gave no reason for ending the inaugural season, only that the decision was made "after careful consideration." It also said a small staff would remain to seek new investment capital and "restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two."

The abrupt end to the latest spring league after just eight weeks stunned co-founder Bill Polian, the former NFL executive who built a Super Bowl winner with Indianapolis.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Polian told The Associated Press by phone from Charlotte, North Carolina.

"On the one hand it was kind of our wildest fantasies come true. It all came true and now it's all come crashing down."

Asked why the league was shutting down, Polian said he's heard "only that it's about the money. That's all."

The league had teams in Orlando, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Birmingham and Memphis.

Several hours before the letter was sent, Memphis quarterback Johnny Manziel tweeted : "If you're an AAF player and the league does dissolve. The last check you got will be the last one that you get. No lawsuit or anything else will get you your bread. Save your money and keep your head up. It's the only choice at this point unless something drastic happens."

Manziel said in another tweet: "Just the reality of this unfortunate situation.. great concept, good football on the field and fun for fans to watch. Just not enough money to go around which has been the main problem with "other" leagues for a long time."

The letter said employees would be paid through Wednesday.

The AAF seemed to have a better chance of surviving than other alternative leagues, such as the USFL and the World League, because of the people and philosophies involved.

Polian and co-founder Charlie Ebersol, a television and film producer, envisioned it as a development league for the NFL with several rules tweaks designed to speed up play and make it safer. There were no kickoffs or PATs. Teams had to go for a two-point conversion after touchdowns.

"We were headed to a tremendous run of success, beginning with Saturday's game leading into the Final Four on CBS," Polian told the AP. "Our league on the field has prospered and grown. The football's gotten better, and that's a tremendous tribute to the coaches and players and GMs and front office staff and all the other people who have done a phenomenal job."

Polian later said in a statement that when Dundon took over, it was his and Ebersol's belief "that we would finish the season, pay our creditors and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all. The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity."

While it clearly wasn't NFL-caliber football, it was entertaining and helped fill the post-Super Bowl void. Among the league's coaches were Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson, Mike Martz and Mike Riley.

However, there were signs of trouble in a league put together in less than one year.

Dundon invested $250 million in the AAF shortly after play began. At the time, Ebersol said reports the Alliance was short on cash and needed a bailout from Dundon in order to make payroll were untrue. He said the league had a technical glitch in its payroll system that was fixed.

The AAF aspired to be a league for players with NFL hopes, but it could not reach agreement with the NFLPA to use players at the end of NFL rosters.

Quick Links

Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is true in all walks of life, including the professional sports world. And while the NFL may be a “what have you done for me lately” business, it is imperative to kick off a coaching tenure on a positive note,  rather than playing from behind the entire way.

Ron Rivera is set to take over as the 30th head coach in franchise history when his squad presumably lines up against the Eagles on September 13th in Landover. With team workouts currently not an option, it is certainly too early to gauge how those two teams will match up in Week 1 - but if recent history is any indication, that debut could go either way.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

It could end up like Mike Shanahan’s primetime victory in his 2010 debut against the rival Cowboys, or like the return of Joe Gibbs back in 2004 that saw Washington outlast Tampa Bay, and even like Steve Spurrier’s high-powered win over the Cardinals in 2002 - all first impressions that the burgundy and gold promptly celebrated with a “Victory Monday” and left the fanbase hopeful for a return to glory.

But the glass could end up looking half empty as well, as it has so many times before. Jay Gruden and Jim Zorn certainly didn’t inspire confidence with their initial performances in the district. Neither did Marty Schottenheimer, who lost the opener of his only season with the Redskins. You can go all the way back to Norv Turner, who had the difficult task of following the first run of legendary Coach Gibbs with the Redskins, and he did so by falling to the Seahawks in 1994.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

What is also important to note is that the debut isn't the all-telling game for head coaches. Though it sets the tone, some have rebounded from poor starts, while others have struggled after solid beginnings. Spurrier's first win was followed by two disappointing years, while Joe Gibbs' 0-5 start in 1981 was soon forgotten when he held up the Lombardi Trophy three times.

In 2011, Rivera lost in his head coaching debut with the Panthers, but a lot has changed since then. He eventually figured things out in Carolina, amassing 76 wins over 9 successful seasons, including an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera created a reputation that preceded his arrival in Ashburn, and since then it has been clear that it is a new era for the Redskins.

As for how that era begins? History tells us to buckle up.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

PLL founder Paul Rabil has plenty in common with fellow DeMatha alum and Redskins pick Chase Young

PLL founder Paul Rabil has plenty in common with fellow DeMatha alum and Redskins pick Chase Young

When the Redskins drafted Chase Young second overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the pass rusher became the latest on a long list of alumni from DeMatha Catholic High School to become a top draft pick.

Shortly after he was drafted, the 21-year-old received a message from professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil, a fellow DeMatha alum and the founder of the Premier Lacrosse League. 

Rabil recently joined NBC Sports Washington's D.C. Sports Live crew and explained why he reached out to the top Redskins draft pick.

"Chase is great, man," Rabil explained. "I shot him a note because obviously I think he's a generational talent, his athleticism, his size and his work ethic."

Rabil, who's widely considered the best lacrosse player by many of his peers, expressed that besides the fact that he and Young both attended DeMatha, the two have a decent amount in common, including a jersey number.

"I'm pumped to see him wear No. 99," Rabil said. "We have that in common. Sharing some additional commonalities is something Chase and I went back and forth on."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE REDSKINS TALK PODCAST

Neither Young nor Rabil sported the 99 before becoming professionals. As Rabil explained to the D.C. Sports Live crew, he simply picked 99 when turning pro because No. 9, the number he had worn his entire career prior, was already taken by a teammate.

Like Rabil, Young wore No. 9 at DeMatha before changing to No. 2 at Ohio State. With defensive ends required to wear a number between 50-79 or 90-99 in the NFL, Young picked the closest thing that resembled his high school number in 99.

Sharing a number is just one of multiple things both Rabil and Young do have a lot in common, despite being 13 years apart in age. At DeMatha, both athletes were All-Americans and top recruits in their respective sport.

As Rabil explained, the athletics culture at DeMatha is special.

"I think it's something perhaps they put in the water fountains at DeMatha," Rabil joked. "It's a great culture. It's a sports culture."

DeMatha first became a national powerhouse in basketball in the 1960s behind the late legendary coach Morgan Wootten. That strong culture has remained in the basketball program -- the school has won 41 WCAC championships since the 1960s -- but has also transferred over to all of the school's other athletic programs, too. 

"I think it comes down to a lot of the coaching and the camaraderie. I've seen it ebb and flow over time," Rabil said. "We were powerhouses in football, basketball, obviously the origin in Morgan Wootten and basketball and what we've done there. But that bleeds over into wrestling and soccer [and more]."

Rabil led DeMatha to a lacrosse WCAC championship in each of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, earning numerous honors and accolades along the way. On the football side, Young played an integral role in leading DeMatha to a WCAC title both in his junior and senior years, too.

Although it's been 16 years since Rabil was a student at the Hyattsville school, he's still just as proud to call himself a DeMatha alum.

"It's a great community to be a part of and one I'm really proud to continue to talk about," he said.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS