A handful of Long Beach ballers grinding away in the Alliance of American Football League got bad news Tuesday afternoon, as the AAF announced it is suspending operations immediately. The league giving bubble NFL players a shot at putting together more film, as well as a chance at a second paycheck. The eight-team league had just wrapped up the eighth week of its 10-week season.
Jordan alum John Timu put together three solid seasons with the Chicago Bears and was a surprise cut shortly before the start of the 2018 season. Timu ended up signing with the AAF’s Salt Lake Stallions midway through the season, but in his first game tallied five tackles and a sack.
Timu was joined in Utah but Poly alum Kaelin Clay, who was an NFL journeyman with eight stops over four years, ending with a stint with the New York Giants in 2018. The Stallions in Salt Lake were an obvious choice for Clay, who was a popular collegiate player at the University of Utah. he had four catches for 28 yards in his first two games with the team.
Poly alum Randall Goforth has a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Eagles in 2017, where he spent the season on injured reserve. Goforth didn’t make the roster in 2018 in Philly but did catch on in the AAF with the Arizona Hotshots, who looked like they were headed for the playoffs with two weeks left in the regular season when the league shut down.
Jaleel Wadood, a well-known local player who spent his freshman year at Lakewood before transferring to St. John Bosco, was on the roster with the Birmingham Iron, who also appear postseason-bound.
There were signals in the last few weeks that the AAF’s future was in jeopardy, with league majority owner Tom Dundon telling USA Today that they weren’t getting the support they expected from the NFL Players Association and the NFL. The league was founded in part with the idea of being an NFL developmental league, and has several of its games televised on the NFL Network. But the NFLPA wasn’t allowing young players to play in the AAF because of a fear of injury or collective bargaining agreement violations.
That, coupled with apparent underlying financial issues (the league reportedly had lost $70 million by the time it shut down) was too much to overcome. The resultant shutdown leaves several young Long Beach ballers’ futures hanging in the balance.