Johnny Manziel, Other Players React To AAF Suspending Operations Halfway Through Inaugural Season

The Alliance of American Football suspended operations Tuesday, only halfway through its inaugural season.

Bill Polian, one of the league's co-founders, placed the blame on league owner Tom Dundon over financial matters and the future direction of the league.

"I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football," Polian said Tuesday in a statement. "When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself 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."

The league that was set up to be a minor league for the NFL appeared to have trouble out of the gate. After the first week of the season, reports surfaced that AAF had run out of money and couldn't make its payroll. The league disputed that claim and said it was an error with the payroll disbursement company the league hired, according to ESPN.

However, after that first week, Dundon, who owns the National Hockey League's Carolina Panthers, pledged to commit $250 million toward the league. This led to Dundon's role as league owner, the report stated.

The league averaged 400,000 to 500,000 viewers per game, according to ESPN. AAF got another shot in the arm when former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel signed with the AAF's Memphis Express.

Once news hit Tuesday that the league would fold, Manziel went to social media and warned players that "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."

"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," Manziel said in another tweet.

Though fans of the AAF and some media reacted to the league's folding on social media, few of the AAF's players other than Manziel spoke about the league. San Diego Fleet defensive end Damontre Moore thanked his family through Instagram for their support.

Anthony Manzo-Lewis, a fullback for Memphis, said he was kicked out of his room and 17 hours away from home "with a car full of belongings." He tweeted: "Unorganized is an understatement...kicked out of our rooms (that weren't paid apparently) 17 hours away from home with a car full of my belongings and nowhere to go...#JoinTheAlliance @TheAAF @CharlieEbersol @TDCanes @espn @BleacherReport @aafexpress"

Weslye Saunders, a tight end for the Birmingham Iron, tweeted a photo of himself and his daughter, who "finally got to see her daddy play!"

Former New York Jets linebacker Taiwan Jones, who played collegiately at Michigan State, said he "literally dropped everything" to sign with the Memphis Express on Monday night, less than a full day before the league folded.

ESPN reported that all players signed three-year contracts, but with no guarantee. Players were to receive $70,000 their first year, $80,000 the second year and $90,000 in the third. Polian said the league was set up as a minor league system to send players to the NFL. The co-founder said that's still his mission.

"My thanks go out to all who made our football product so competitive and professional," Polian said in his statement. "I am certain there are many among them destined for future success in the NFL and I look forward to doing all I can to help them in their quest."

Steve Spurrier, who coached the Orlando Apollos, reminded reporters that his team was 7-1 and led the league in winning percentage. Therefore he claimed the Apollos as possible league champions.

"We're all disappointed, but on the other side, we got to be the champs, right?" Spurrier told reporters. "We're 7-1 and the next teams are 5-3. Some of us didn't get into the Alliance to advance our careers, but the players ... I'm more disappointed for all the players that believe, 'This is my chance to show people this, that and the other that I can play this game.'

"And a lot of them will get opportunities. They've shown enough."

Johnny Manziel, Other Players React To AAF Suspending Operations Halfway Through Inaugural Season | Sports