Changing the Rules

The Arena Football League has a problem – the league that built itself on being a more fun variant of football has one specific, decidedly un-fun element in the game going against it, and that’s referee face time.

Referees interjecting penalties into the game is like watching an old episode of Dukes of Hazzard where they pause the show and have a cop list the laws, and the verbiage of the law broken, as they break them – and occasionally stop it in the wrong part of the show or give the wrong infraction. It takes the flow out of the game and kills everyone’s excitement. Some are more likely to throw flags than others, but I came up with some ideas to help them all stay out of the show a little more.

AFL Referee Infographic

2014 #ThunderTopPlay Champion Announced

Thunder Top Play - Eric Crocker and Varmah Sonie

It took a couple of months, but we did it! We determined the single top play of the 2014 season for the Portland Thunder.

Fitting for a defensive backfield that had three players in the league’s top 10  turnover forcers, the top play of the Thunder season was Eric Crocker’s interception of the Tampa Bay Storm’s B.J. Hall, which turned into a 23-yard touchdown run by Varmah Sonie.

The play involved one of the EIGHT fumbles between both teams in the game, six of which were picked up by the opposing team.  Tampa Bay’s Michael Lindsey forced three of them, the top mark for the AFL in 2014, including the one that sent Sonie into the end zone.

“Not again!” said Crocker, when asked about what he was thinking as the ball was poked out by Lindsey. “But Varmah was Johnny-on-the-spot, and he has great return skills, so once the ball hit his hands, I was like ‘He’s going to score anyway.'”

The cap to the play was Sonie’s roll across the end zone from the T of Tampa to the Y of Bay before Coach William Mulder stopped him and pulled him up to celebrate.

“I was just happy I got in the end zone,” said Sonie. “I think that was my first touchdown of the season on defense, so I was just excited.”

Check out the full interviews with Crocker and Sonie below.

Thunder Fan Recognized

NOTE: I had lots of good interactions with Jim on the Thunder’s Facebook page. He got to tell his story to the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon. For the full story on Jim, click here.

The Seattle Seahawks are on another possible Super Bowl run. The University of Oregon Ducks are in the inaugural college football playoff national championship.

So what did Jim Osborn, an Astoria papermaker who loves football, post on his Facebook page last week? A boast that he had received his season tickets to the Portland Thunder and that there were only 85 days until the start of the Arena Football League season.

“It’s like they’re playing in your lap,” he said of the fast pace and immediacy of watching the Thunder at the Moda Center. “It’s right there.”

The immediacy truly is the part of the AFL that immediately catches one’s eyes as a fan. The NBA is the only other sport where you have a fair chance of a player flying off the playing surface to make a play in the seat next to you. Check out the rest of Jim’s “story of the fan” at the above link!

#ThunderTopPlay, Battle Royale Finale!

Since #ThunderTopPlay never got properly resolved in 2015, let’s fix that early in 2015 with a Battle Royale among the final four.

Battle Royale graphic
2014’s #ThunderTopPlay finalists!

If you remember way back in November, we started with 32 plays from the Thunder’s five wins (because I didn’t have video from EVERY game, but I did have video from the wins – and how can a top play not contribute to a win?) We narrowed it down to four before this blog temporarily disappeared.

Now it has been resurrected, and we’re going to finish what we start.

Our final four will battle – you can vote in the poll below. You can vote for it on the Thunder Fans’ Facebook group. You can vote by hitting me with the proper hashtag on Twitter or in a comment replying to my picture on Instagram.

Let’s go to our announcer:

Coming out of the New Orleans region, it’s the No. 6 seed – K.C. “The Assassin” OHHHHHbi!

And now, from the Florida region, coming from an upset off of one of the AFL’s plays of the year, Douglas McNeil’s one-handed grab, it’s a tag-team entry! Welcome Eric Crocker and Varmah Sonieeeeeee!

I’m not sure how he’s going to do it, but Obi’s battling on two separate entries in this Battle Royale! He sees the Crocker/Sonie tag team and has picked up a teammate of his own! Out of the Los Angeles region, it’s KC Obi and Bryce Peila!

And finally, the lowest seed to make the final, an underdog all the way through, who simply “can’t stop, won’t stop” on his way to glory, it’s Dannnyyyyyyyyyyyy Southwiiiiiiiiiiick, with the longest TD run of the year!

You have until kickoff of the Oregon Ducks/Ohio State playoff championship game to get your votes in, so vote early! Vote often!