By Jay Betsill
“Alliances Broken” chronicles the rise and fall of the Alliance of American Football, the high profile failed attempt to have a professional spring football league that turned out to be nothing more than a plethora of false promises from co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol.
The new documentary that is now available to stream on Amazon Prime and Apple TV is a fascinating film from writer-director Steve Potter on what quickly became a cautionary sports tale. The upstart league began with such promise and legitimacy with legendary football figures involved including Steve Spurrier, Bill Polian, Hines Ward and Justin Tuck and well-known investors like Peter Thiel only to be unveiled as a complete facade that was ultimately more focused on its app and gambling technology and would not even complete its inaugural season on the field.
The greed and corruption that plays throughout the film could have easily been about Wall Street with the real victims being the players, staff members and vendors for the league’s eight teams who were left blowing in the wind after Ebersol and company abruptly closed up shop and ceased operations.
The story of the AAF being on the verge of missing payroll and Ebersol seeking financing from Dallas billionaire and Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon before the subsequent suspension of football operations is well-known to sports fans.
While Ebersol cavalierly boasted of the $250 million that Dundon invested into the league, in reality it was $70 million with the floundering league operating on a weekly basis with Dundon eventually claiming AAF officials made “misrepresentations” when he became the majority investor in the league and wanting his $70 million back.
Potter does a great job of telling that story through those who were affected by the boardroom dealings and mis-dealings as the individuals that uprooted their lives and their families to move across the country were suddenly unemployed with little to no job prospects on the horizon.
Players found out about the suspension through social media before their coaches confirmed the news with Ebersol nowhere to be seen with any answers or explanations.
One of the many highlights of the film was attorney Darren Heitner, who appears throughout the movie with commentary on the business side of the AAF.
Ironically, Ebersol was inspired to create the AAF after producing the documentary This Was the XFL for ESPN Films’ award-winning 30 for 30 series in 2016 and decided the concept was viable if only executed properly.
Many sports fans have awaited what would certainly be an epic 30 for 30 on the AAF, but they need to look no further than this captivating documentary on spring football as a viable concept that could not have been managed any worse that leaves behind the question of what might have been had someone with a real business acumen rather than a pathologically lying daydreamer had brought the AAF to fruition.