Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
Where to begin folks? It’s the first week in May and you know what that means that my stack of sports topics to write about is turning into a pile. So what the hell lets get down to business and talk a little AAF. Yes, even after their unfortunate demise they are still giving the sports world something to talk about.
When The Alliance launched this past season it finally seemed that it had the makings to be what the fans and the pro football world had been asking for during the off-season a pro developmental league that was here to stay. Even with its initial success and the appearance of longevity, there were many things that just were not as they seemed not just to the fans but to the Coaches, and players.
You would think that the names behind the league who have managed to be successful leaders in their own businesses would have been better at protecting not just their investment but their players, coaches, and employees. However, that’s another column for another time.
If you have ever watched National Lampoons Vacation and the scene were the Griswalds finally reach Walley World. The anticipation and the trials to get there and long and behold only to be disappointed with the damn moose holding a sign closed.
While the death of The Alliance was more of a rollercoaster than that for many April 2nd will be embedded in their mind as the end of a dream that quickly turned into a daydream nightmare. It might as well have been a bad April Fools joke when the league ceased operations that Tuesday in April. Even with just two weeks to go in the regular season, the league could no longer “buy time.”
Players and coaches forced to shut down practices and collect their things not knowing what tomorrow would bring. The horror stories from players across the league with outrageous hotel rooms, unpaid vendors. no places to go and more. You would have never guessed that a league who seemed to be about the player well being would do them dirty this way.
The mess of the Alliance is beyond repair as it is. But out of everything bad comes something good. I am glad to see that the NFL has taken a look at the talent the AAF was able to showcase to get these athletes a second chance to get to the main stage. I am rooting for these kids to get their shot and find a home in the NFL even after the leagues abrupt ending.
But Karma comes back and that’s where I start on today’s sports dish. Most of y’all probably never heard of the initial investor of the AAF Reggie Fowler. Well, there is probably a reason for that now that the skeletons are coming out of the closet.
Fowler is no stranger to investing in “gridiron football leagues” with questionable outcomes along with making a run to have his hands in the NFL Owners honey pot. Despite, his business sense he just never seems to come out correct. Fowler, who also was a former minority stock in the Minnesota Vikings was arrested on Tuesday on charges of bank fraud and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. This development may start to put the pieces together as to the most burning questions surrounding the leagues rise and fall.
The initial Alliance investor could face up to 70 years in prison if these charges stick. Here is the short version of what Fowler faces. It is alleged that Fowler along with his partner Ravid Yosef during the months of February and October of 2018, moved over millions of dollars through banks under a “phony business” disguised as real estate holdings. When the AAF reached out to Fowler sources indicated he initially committed to fund the league with rough 170 million of his personal money. But the kicker is that if this is true that the money pledged was never Fowlers.
Sources close to the AAF backdoor dealings said that Fowler put in roughly 28 million to get the ball rolling and never intended to stop funding. However, it’s clear that since he was more and likely robbing Peter to pay Paul that is why the AAF had to look to Dundon to keep operations going initially. The ALLIANCE seemed to shake hands with the wrong set of hands in order to keep the purity of a dream alive. Even in that, they had to result to shady dealings to try to keep it going but in the end, the park was closed for good.
The Alliance bad business practice still have a ways to go. On April 17 the league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Alliance state it has claimed assets of $11.3 million and liabilities of $48.3 million, leaving them with just $536,160.68 in cash. So talk about football hell on earth. I guess it was good while it lasted. Perhaps the re-launch of the XFL will learn from its past and that of the AAF and finally provide what the NFL needs a damn developmental league system. We can dream and hope can’t we.
Next time when you want to start a league you might want to check out your investors business history just saying sometimes being so desperate for investors could be your own nail in the coffin. Like I said if anything else it gave the NFL an opportunity to see some top talent for even just a short time and extend invitations to these players to have another shot.
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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a Senior Editor and writer for Main Event Sports. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist, NFL Network content writer, and Brown University, graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ Misskyus2011