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The NFL Could Have Owned Part of AAF Before Collapse

  • The NFL would've had the option to acquire 15% of the now-defunct AAF.
  • It could have opened the door for the AAF to be an official developmental league for the NFL.
Alliance of American Football (AAF) team at line of scrimmage before start of a play
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Had the Alliance of American Football survived past one season, the NFL might have owned a piece of the now-defunct league.

A complaint filed by the trustees overseeing the AAF’s bankruptcy against former AAF owner Tom Dundon highlights that the league and the NFL had a “binding term sheet” in place that would issue warrants for an NFL subsidiary to acquire a 15% stake in Ebersol Sports Media Group — the original owner of the AAF.

The warrants would give the NFL the option — but not the obligation — to buy that portion of the AAF for a previously agreed price before a set expiration date.

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Under the term sheet, the AAF would also “spin out its technology development and products over time to a technology company that would provide the NFL access to those products.”

It all could have opened the door for the AAF to be an official developmental league for the NFL — but the former shuttered its operations in April 2019, two weeks before the end of its inaugural regular season.

Dundon — also the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes — is being sued by the trustees for at least $184 million for shutting the league down when there were allegedly still financial alternatives to save it.

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