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'I saw it coming, but a little too late': AAF employee breaks silence after league folds in first season

The Alliance of American Football League filed for bankruptcy two months into its first season, disappointing a city of San Antonio Commanders fans.

SAN ANTONIO — David Voth sits at his dining room table, clicking away at his laptop. 

"This was tough and rough," he says with a smile. "This is the one they turned into a reality TV show." 

Voth's career started in a room like this one. His career in the sports entertainment industry spanned countries and decades. 

And it all came to a screeching halt seven months ago.

"To see it go down the way it went down here was crushing," he said with sigh. "Did I see it coming? I saw it coming, but a little too late. At that point, it is what it is and you realize the ship is sinking."

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Like many, David Voth was blindsided by the folding of the AAF.

Just before the start of the season, the San Antonio man left his prominent position with San Antonio sports and walked into a warehouse. Inside was a room; that’s where Voth realized what he just got himself into.

Credit: Jaleesa Irizarry
The warehouse on San Antonio's northeast side was where Voth and a number of other employees worked out of.

"We all shared a six-foot table with about four chairs and I said, 'I thought we were going to get some furniture in here,' not certainly extravagant but a functional place to sit," he said.

"I was told, 'We actually have a lot of pallets and maybe we can build some furniture out that.' So I thought, 'Hmm, this may be a sign,' and that was actually the first week the payroll was missed."

It didn’t take long for the rumors to swirl, and for Voth to realize the dream he was told to believe in was just that: nothing but a fantasy.

"I was told the same thing players, business people, the same thing the AAF told the press: 'Don’t worry about the money, we have three years' worth of money," he explained.

"I personally asked people to be a part of this, from venues and personal relationships," he recalled.  "You find out they were shorted a payment or they hadn't received a payment. There are a lot of people that lose a lot more than a job sometimes its your faith in people."

No one knows that more than Jason Drago.

"It'll always sting," the general manager of Monarch Trophy said out on his sales floor.

Drago created and delivered the Commanders Fiesta medal the day before the bankruptcy.

"It was a serious panic," he remembered. "We're a family-run business, so anything that we lose here, it directly affects us. From top to bottom, it directly affected us pretty bad."

Drago was able to get most of the 5,000 medals back, but none of the payment.
But if sports teaches us anything it's to never give up, no matter how many times you fail.

Credit: Jaleesa Irizarry
Thousands of Commanders medals still sit in the back room of Monarch Trophy Studio. The shipment came in the day before the bankruptcy was announced.

Seven months after hitting a dark place, Voth saw the light—the stadium light. 

"Its like big-time football for little kids," he explained. 

Voth has helped build Under the Lights, a new youth flag football program sponsored by Under Armour. 

As he watched the children run across the field one Saturday evening, his smile left his face. Hard to believe the man cheering for dozens of children, yelling words of encouragement, lost everything less than a year ago. 

"Its easy to go through something like this and wonder if it's worthwhile," he reflected.  "I'm not going to give up. It's a long road, so hang in there." 

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