Arena Football League plans relaunch in 2024

I wonder how that conversation went? Dude we are sinking this ship - let’s get Jeff Fisher to lead this dumpster fire. He doesn’t have much else happening in his life.

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“Ahh, yep.”

Happy Hour Drinking GIF

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So here were how events unfolded last weekend alone after all else as chronicled.

Imagine being a player in this league wondering if the visiting team is going to show?

We shall see if anybody else poops the bed later today or on Saturday this weekend as we observe this slow-burning dumpster fire.

On Friday, May 10, the West Texas team worked out its beef with the competing arena league, and the injunction was lifted. But the day didn’t bring all good AFL news! Minnesota Myth coach Rickey Foggie resigned. Players for the Myth had threatened a boycott prior to last week’s season-opener over missing paychecks, before agreeing to play. The Myth are owned by Diana Hutton, a Minneapolis lawyer, and her husband, the league commissioner. Shortly after news of his departure broke, Foggie, a local hero since his college days quarterbacking the Minnesota Gophers, reposted a tweet tagging Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and saying, “You need to look into this fraud immediately.” Neither of the Huttons commented publicly on the Foggie matter.

On May 11, Philadelphia Soul general manager Kelly Logan announced his team—which is actually based in Trenton, N.J.—was done for the season. The club had fired all its players before the season opener against the VooDoo, after they demanded promised pay. The fired players were also kicked out of the Super 8 motel where they’d been staying, because the team hadn’t paid the hotel either. The Soul played the VooDoo using the roster of the Dallas Falcons, a team from a rival confederation called the American Arena League 2.

Also on the 11th, the Albany Firebirds announced that Monday’s scheduled home game against the Myth, the Huttons’ team, had been canceled because the would-be visitors "can not [sic] make the trip” to New York.

Which brings us to Saturday night’s events in Rapid City: Marshals players refusing to come out of the locker room to face the visiting Billings Outlaws unless they were paid back salaries, and the game being canceled one hour before kickoff, with the Outlaws already warming up on the field.

None of the injunctions or cancellations or foldings were mentioned on the homepage of the AFL’s website (or, for that matter, under the “News” tab). Hutton did not directly respond to Defector’s requests for comment. Blackbears president Johnson, himself an NFL veteran and childhood friend of Hutton, said Hutton had told him multiple times he was going to call this reporter to discuss the debacle. Hutton did not follow through.

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Now this is more confusing following the leavers and joiners.

On one hand it’s good to have ownership figured out but how to they rebuild relations with sponsors and fans but folding and restarting on the fly?

Why not start the groundwork for 2025 with the league under new management?

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Sponsors might be tricky but if the owners have business dealings with them outside of football it would be easier. You would have to do a deep dive on what business the owners were in and who the sponsors were and most won’t bother for Arena football.

As for the fans, I can only go by CFL fans in Vancouver. If they are similar in any way, then most of the fans wouldn’t even know the team had folded in the first place.

Before my fellow Lions fans object to what I’m saying, I’ll remind them that when Rourke was injured, a huge amount of fans went to the next game expecting to see Rourke playing that night. They had no idea he was injured.

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A great expose` of the league’s failure via the perspective in Georgia is at hand here. In my opinion, this smells like FRAUD, though generally speaking, criminal fraud requires the element of intent in court.

Can you imagine reporting to work anywhere yourself for any given job and being told the following?

‘Your Money Should Be Here Today’

The first team meeting was held April 14 at a Savannah Suites hotel near the airport. No motivational speeches were given; no playbooks were distributed nor overarching football philosophies outlined. Roquemore spoke in broad terms, talking about overcoming obstacles and promising, “We’re going to be fine. It is what it is,” is how Camay remembers the talk. The overall tone was one of nonchalance. “It wasn’t setting us up for success,” Camay said.

Before the team meeting, players received an email instructing them to have a doctor conduct a full physical, Arth said. The Force would not cover the costs. Without insurance, it could run between $500 and $600, so he and some teammates went to a local Walgreens. That Monday, April 15, the first practice was held. The team didn’t provide pads, helmets, or uniforms; no one brought a ball, except for Arth, who always carried a few footballs with him and began throwing to receivers. On Tuesday, their equipment arrived, but not the footballs, which took until Wednesday. Even then, they ran only about three or four plays. Coach [Durwood] Roquemore remained sanguine.

Once again, Roquemore swore they’d be made right. “Just got off the phone with the commissioner. Your money should get here today,” Spann said the coach promised. There was one positive development: Force players were asked to submit their banking info before the Oregon game, which felt like progress.

The money never landed in their accounts. Monday’s practice was canceled at the last minute. The same went for Tuesday and Wednesday. No one knew whether they were going to take the field that weekend. On Thursday, May 9 at 8:55 p.m. ET, the hammer fell.

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About 30 or more years ago, I became interested in the history of defunct sports leagues and I tried to get my hands on anything related to the ‘70s World Football League. (The early ‘90s were devoid of the internet so the pickings were slim.)
I finally found this documentary from NFL films this year.
While there are differences between that and the Arena League (the WFL thought they could compete with the NFL and signed stars like Larry Csonka,) there are a lot of similarities that we’re seeing happen in real time.

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