The AAF effect – a CFL view

The AAF effect – a CFL view
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The AAF is coming. What does this mean for the CFL? At the moment nobody knows. Pro football in spring has been and gone before. Just because it hasn’t succeeded in the past doesn’t mean it can’t ever work. What if this is the time it does work? What would that mean for the CFL?

If the AAF took off, the US talent pool heading to the CFL might shrink hugely. The AAF would give US based players an opportunity to stay in the US, play a US-style game, and be closer to NFL talent evaluation.

The very idea of the AAF at this point is to be a developmental league for the NFL. That means for players trying to break into the NFL, the AAF would be a great opportunity on the NFL’s doorstep.

The level of play

“The level of play will be somewhere between college and the NFL,” according to Mike Singletary, the Hall of Fame linebacker who will coach in the new league. “I’m excited to see guys have a second chance, excited to see guys who really want to play, who have been working out the last two to three years to get this opportunity.”

There are no huge NFL style player contracts. All players would be signing three-year deals with annual salaries of $70,000, $80,000 and $100,000. They may not be huge figures in NFL terms but for lower paid CFL players this would be an opportunity they would have to consider.

The CBA effect

In some ways the genesis of the AAF is coming at the perfect time for the CFL players entering into collective bargaining agreements. The last round of CBA negotiations concluded in June of 2014 expiring in May of 2019.

The league’s minimum salary was raised from $45,000 to just $50,000 in 2014 with a further increase of $1,000 in each subsequent year. Approximately half of the CFL’s players make at or little more than the current league minimum of $53,000. A great argument for raising the minimum salary to $75,000 was made on 3downnantion earlier this year.

For players being able to point to AAF salaries will help. As will the fact that CFL GM’s are already on record as saying the new league has had an impact on their planning. No to mention the 2018 CFL number one draft pick signing with the spring league.

Who is the competition?

The AAF is designed to be complementary to the NFL, and yet could find itself in competition with another spring league in 2020. That’s when WWE supremo Vince McMahon plans to relaunch the XFL and offer yet another spring football league.

If it works the AAF could have a huge impact on the CFL. It could impact the talent pool. For instance could it mean more Canadian or international players in the CFL? It could affect the CBA. For instacne will the players have more leverage on wages and benefits this time around with an active competitior out there?

If is a big word though. Nothing is proven yet. CFL fans are wary but they have seen things like this before. Perhaps the most important thing for the AAF will be embedding itself in its own markets. from there it could grow the brand. First they have to sell the tickets and grow a television audience.

The CFL and its fans will be watching on with a great deal of interest.


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