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Arena Football Debuts on NFL Network
posted on ArenaFan.com, Monday, April 5, 2010
been two years since I have been able to sit down in my living room at home and
watch an Arena Football League game on TV. So I was really looking forward to
the kickoff of the 2010 AFL season on the NFL Network Friday night (April 2). I
was not disappointed.
Even though many of the players on both teams were unfamiliar to me, it was
still comforting to see the familiar helmets and uniforms of the Chicago Rush
and the Iowa Barnstormers playing a game live from Des Moines. Also comforting
was seeing Chicago head coach Mike Hohensee and Iowa head coach John Gregory
right where they belonged, on the sidelines with their teams. But the most
reassuring thing of all was seeing the enthusiastic 12,182 fans that were in
attendance. It confirmed to me that the Arena Football League truly was back!
Chicago won 61-43, but the outcome of the game was not nearly as important as
the fact that it was played under the Arena Football League brand. Originally,
the league was going to be known as Arena Football One this season, but when the
league purchased the AFL name, logos, records and assets in bankruptcy court
last December, they changed their name back to the Arena Football League.
NO BREAK FOR SOME CURRENT AFL TEAMS
the Arena Football League and its teams were dormant in 2009, arenafootball2
played a full schedule. The Barnstormers were members of the af2 last year and
so were several other current AFL teams; the Milwaukee Iron, Spokane Shock,
Tulsa Talons, Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings and
Alabama Vipers. The Vipers were renamed this year after previously being known
as the Tennessee Valley Vipers. The Spokane Shock won the af2 championship last
In order to get my Arena Football fix last season, I traveled to Milwaukee twice
to see the Iron in action. The first time they played the Barnstormers and the
second time I saw them play the Albany Firebirds. I even traveled to Oklahoma
City to see the Yard Dawgz play the Corpus Christi Sharks. Even thought it has
not been two years since I last saw a game in person, it is still nice to know
that the AFL is back and once again on TV.
When NBC broadcast AFL games from 2004-2006, it was a huge step in the
development of the league. But it became clear over time that NBC was only doing
it because they had lost the rights to broadcast NFL games at the time, and it
showed. NBC was just biding its time with the AFL until they could regain a
share of the more lucrative NFL broadcast package.
came ESPN, which did a fine job of broadcasting AFL games in 2007 and 2008. They
understood the sport much better that NBC ever did. It was a good partnership
for the league and exposed it to a receptive, sports-minded audience.
This season, the NFL Network is carrying AFL games on Friday nights and from
what I saw from the first broadcast, the fit seems perfect. Live football games
being shown on a football network. Genius!
was one thing missing from the broadcast however. There was a complete lack of
constant camera shots aimed at the owner’s box containing either John Elway or
John Bon Jovi. For three hours, the focus was clearly on the action on the
field. How refreshing!
Up until Friday night, the return of the AFL was simply nothing more than a date
on the calendar. Like Christmas, the first day of Spring or my birthday, it
seemed that it would never get here. But now it has finally arrived and AFL fans
all over the country can breathe a sigh of relief. Those who took joy in
pronouncing the league dead and buried last year must now accept the fact that,
although it is not exactly the same as it was in 2008, the AFL is once again
taking to the field and lighting up the scoreboards. With plans already
announced for expansion next season, I have no doubt that the AFL will continue
to grow in popularity and prosper in its newest incarnation. Welcome back!
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