A pair of former AAF players, Birmingham Iron punter Colton Schmidt and Orlando Apollos linebacker Reggie Northrup, filed a class-action complaint with the Superior Court of California claiming they were misled by the league’s financial viability and defrauded when controlling owner Tom Dundon suspended operations, according to Deadspin.
The complaint claims the players would not have exposed themselves to “serious risk of physical or damage to [their] health” or “foregone other financial opportunities” if they had been aware of the true state of the league.
The two players, acting individually and on behalf “all players who contracted with” the AAF, are reportedly seeking damages for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, violating labor codes, violating business and professions codes, fraud, false promise and inducing breach of contract.
What does this complaint against the AAF mean?
Basically, the complaint seems to boil down to the players claiming they were given reason to believe they were joining a league much healthier and likely to last long-term than it really was. That supposedly caused them to push themselves into the meat-grinder that is the sport of football again rather than seek other opportunities that would have had them better positioned right now.
For months, AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol and, later, Dundon talked up the AAF’s long-term path to become a feeder league for the NFL with the idea that they had the funding to do so. These are the people who would have known that, in reality, the league wasn’t even going to last a season.
Deadspin notes that the players argue the way the AAF left them out to dry in the end indicated that league purposefully negotiated contracts in bad faith, giving attractive three-year deals to players fully aware the odds of those contracts being honored to completion were slim.
Clearly, the players have reason to be unhappy with the AAF and its owners and operators. Players were kicked out of their lodgings, left to cover their own medical bills and given an emotional kick in the gut when a promising opportunity dried up with no advance warning.
They aren’t the only ones out there with a bone to pick with the defunct league, but they’re almost certainly the ones left with the least.