Wednesday afternoon, the Arena Football League announced that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is fully ceasing all operations. The news was revealed in a press release from the league and included statements by commissioner Randall Boe. The third-longest running football league will no longer be active, leaving the NFL and the Canadian Football League as the only remaining options for football players.
"We're all disappointed that we couldn't find a way forward and we wanted to thank our fans, our players, coaches, everyone who loved the Arena Football League," Boe said in a statement. "We all love the game and tried very hard to make it successful, but we simply weren't able to raise the capital necessary to grow the League, resolve the substantial legacy liabilities and make it financially viable.
The AFL suspended local operations in October in order to reassess the business operations. There was also an issue with a lawsuit filed against the AFL by the former provider of worker's compensation.
The Arena Football League has issued the following statement. pic.twitter.com/sFTtdAWRQV— Arena Football League (@OfficialAFL) November 27, 2019
At the time of the October suspension, Boe did say that the league didn't plan on suspending all business operations. Although that changed on Wednesday when the AFL made the closure official.
Originally created in the early 1980s by Jim Foster, the AFL came to being by way of a test game played in April 1986. This first game was a success, so Foster held a second in February in 1987 before officially forming the Arena Football League with four teams.
While the AFL went through numerous changes throughout its history, it did provide extra opportunities for some NFL figures. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner got his start with an AFL team prior to winning one Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams and appearing in another two. Offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy also spent time with the AFL after enjoying a Pro Bowl career in the NFL.
Interestingly enough, former Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was one of the biggest names in the Arena Football League. As a player, he won the ArenaBowl four separate times and was named league MVP in 1992. He was also listed as the AFL's fourth greatest player of all time.
Gruden was similarly effective as a coach in the AFL. He won another two ArenaBowls as the head coach of the Orlando Predators prior to departing for the NFL and joining the Washington Redskins.0comments
With the AFL ceasing operations on Wednesday, there will now a lack of opportunities for players that aren't active in the NFL or CFL. However, the XFL will begin action in 2020 with the goal of becoming a viable professional league.
(Photo Credit: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire/Getty)