Not surprisingly, financial concerns are at the root of the postponement. Each player in the AAFL was due to receive $50,000 this season. When some key investors pulled their support, the league found itself on shaky ground financially.
The AAFL was designed to field teams representing six football-crazy states. Team Tennessee was to be based in Knoxville, Team Florida in Gainesville, Team Texas in Houston, Team Alabama in Birmingham, Team Arkansas in Fayetteville and Team Michigan in Detroit.
Former UT receiver Larry Seivers was to be president of the Tennessee franchise. Former Vol quarterback Andy Kelly was to be the head coach and former Vol wide receiver Alvin Harper was to be an assistant coach.
Former Vol head coach and athletics director Doug Dickey is a member of the AAFL board of directors.
Each AAFL team got to protect a number of players with ties to its area. Team Tennessee protected four ex-Vols - wideout C.J. Fayton, kicker James Wilhoit, defensive end Jason Hall and linebacker Jason Mitchell.
Tee Martin, the quarterback who guided UT to a 13-0 season and national title in 1998, showed brief interest in playing for Team Tennessee before backing away from the AAFL. (Tee always did have a knack for knowing when he was about to be blind-sided.)
Team Tennessee was to begin its 10-game 2008 season April 12, hosting Team Michigan at Neyland Stadium.
Now, Team Tennessee - and the AAFL as an entity - will kick off in 2009 ... maybe.
Below is the press release announcing the postponement:
ATLANTA, GA – The All American Football League (AAFL) announced today the postponement of its inaugural season until 2009. The League will continue to build upon the foundation that has been established, and will continue to discuss opportunities with potential investors.
AAFL sponsors have committed to remain on board for the 2009 season. Currently, the League has corporate partnerships with New Balance, Baden Sports and Rogers Athletic. Also still in place for the 2009 season are a national radio partnership with Touchdown Radio & SportsDay Productions, and an internet broadcast partnership with PlayOn! Sports, a division of Turner Broadcasting.
"We are so very fortunate to have built partnerships with companies who are partners in the truest sense of the word," said Keenan Davis, AAFL VP of League Operations and COO. "We sincerely appreciate their support as we progress toward our new goal of a 2009 inaugural season."
All fans who have purchased tickets to 2008 AAFL games will receive a full refund. Credit cards will be credited and any checks received will be returned.
Additional details regarding the AAFL's postponement are forthcoming.