ARIZONA HOTSHOTS

AAF, Arizona Hotshots cease football operations

Apr 2, 2019, 10:40 AM | Updated: 2:55 pm
Arizona Hotshots quarterback John Wolford throws down field against the Salt Lake Stallions in the ...
Arizona Hotshots quarterback John Wolford throws down field against the Salt Lake Stallions in the first half during an AAF football game Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Alliance of American Football (AAF) will cease operations on Tuesday, though whether it leads to the first-year league folding remains to be seen.

An email sent to AAF employees confirmed reports that suggested the AAF has played its last game, at least with its current business model, after just eight weeks of action.

The news comes less than a week after AAF majority owner Tom Dundon told USA Today that the NFL Players’ Association’s lack of cooperation in allowing the upstart league to use NFL players put the unaffiliated minor league in danger of folding.

According to Rovell, the operations stoppage comes not due financial reasons.

Co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian have disagreed with Dundon’s plans in the month-plus since Dundon earned a majority stake in the AAF by pouring $250 million into the league. Ebersol and Polian expected a multi-year process to develop the league into a working feeder system for the NFL, but Dundon has wanted that process to be more swift.

An anonymous source in the NFL players union told USA Today last week that allowing NFL players to compete in the AAF went against the pro league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Polian put out his own statement confirming the news on Tuesday.

The AAF, an eight-team league in the eighth game of its 10-game inaugural season, didn’t expect to compete with the NFL when it announced its plans last year. Its leaders believed it could fill a void as a minor league where fringe NFL players could earn playing time and continue improving under more vigilant coaching staffs.

“You got these guys who come in, you know they’re not going to make the (NFL) team,” AAF player relations vice president and investor Jared Allen said in May. “They’ve been maybe two to three years in camp, and at what point do you realize you’re doing this guy a disservice? Where has he gotten any reps to think he’ll be better a year later?

“That guy may not feel like he’s completely lived his dream.”

From a marketing standpoint, the AAF wanted to use technology to bring in fan interest, particularly when it came to fantasy football.

Teams were expected to build close bonds with their localities. The roster-building process, for example, bucketed former players from regionally close NFL and college teams to the closest AAF squads.

The Hotshots are also led by McClintock High School product Rick Neuheisel, who attended ASU games growing up. Neuheisel, a quarterback, played in the formerly-defunct USFL and went on to coach at UCLA, Colorado and Washington with a stint in the NFL on the Baltimore Ravens.

“He knew what it was to play here both as a local and as an opposing coach,” Ebersol said of Neuheisel when announcing the AAF’s presence in Arizona last May. “To capture that affinity was really important.”

In Arizona, the AAF debuted on Feb. 10 as the Arizona Hotshots beat the Salt Lake Stallions at Sun Devil Stadium. There, former Cardinals tight end Gerald Christian scored the first touchdown in franchise history.

Ebersol pitched the AAF in Arizona as an offseason football league to satisfy fans of the sport and hoped it would come with interactive in-game enhancements to satisfy fantasy football fans. He made the comparison of the NFL offseason to to a ride-sharing service like Uber and Lyft shutting down operations for months out of the year.

Now, it appears the AAF itself is shuttering for the time being.

Penguin Air

Arizona Hotshots

Rashad Ross enters the field for the Arizona Hotshots (Sarah Kezele/Twitter)...
Logan Newman

Former Hotshot WR Rashad Ross reportedly to sign with Panthers

After the AAF folded and allowed players to speak to NFL teams, former Arizona Hotshots and Cardinals WR Rashad Ross reportedly agreed to join the Panthers.
4 years ago
(Facebook photo | The Alliance of American Football)...
Haboob Blog

Mike Bercovici might be a part of the AAF’s most memorable play ever

The AAF might be done, and former ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici holds a weird place in the brief Alliance of American Football league's history.
4 years ago
(Photo: Alliance of American Football)...
Danny Shapiro

Former ASU receiver Rashad Ross continues to shine with Hotshots

Ross caught a 58-yard touchdown in the Arizona Hotshots' 23-6 win over San Antonio on Sunday, his league-best seventh touchdown of the season.
4 years ago
Rashad Ross enters the field for the Arizona Hotshots (Sarah Kezele/Twitter)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona Hotshots defeat San Diego for second straight win

The Arizona Hotshots (4-3) are again over .500 after defeating the San Diego Fleet, 32-15, on Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium.
4 years ago
Rashad Ross enters the field for the Arizona Hotshots (Sarah Kezele/Twitter)...
Danny Shapiro

Former ASU receiver Rashad Ross shining with Arizona Hotshots

It's been a rough go recently for the Arizona Hotshots, but former ASU receiver Rashad Ross has continued his strong performances.
4 years ago
Rashad Ross enters the field for the Arizona Hotshots (Sarah Kezele/Twitter)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona Hotshots surrender first safety in AAF history

The Arizona Hotshots were on the wrong side of AAF history on Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium, surrending the league's first safety.
4 years ago
AAF, Arizona Hotshots cease football operations