I was given an opportunity to take a free ticket to the Cowboys’ preseason game against the Dolphins and since I’d never been to AT&T stadium, I snapped it up. I’d looked at tickets to the game against the Seahawks last year, and since standing-room only “seats” were going for over $100 for a regular season game, I sure wasn’t planning on buying my way into the stadium anytime soon.
Every year in the AFL, a new quarterback seems to pop up and assume a place among the AFL’s select few “solid starters.” In 2011 it was Tommy Grady, who finished third in efficiency rating after finishing outside the top 10 the year before. In 2012, J.J. Raterink got to No. 3 in the rankings as well. In 2013, Erik Meyer went from backup (okay, he spent the 2012 season, which was to be his first as a starter, injured) to league MVP. In 2014, Shane Austin jumped up from the bench and became the quarterback for a team that went 17-1 and made it to the ArenaBowl.
I have a new article up over at ArenaFan about Frank Trotter, who came to Portland via Iowa, where he played for Coach Hohensee.
Trotter is new to the Pacific Northwest and is hoping to get out during the season and make Portland a home away from home. He’d been conditioned by stories and television to believe the city was “rainy, green, and boring,” but he’s found it to be full of friendly people and great weather (well, until this weekend – he’s been informed that this year has been unusual). If you have suggestions for new places for him to explore, tweet him at @FBmyHustle62.
For those of us who like the NFL’s once-a-week approach to things because we, frankly, have a lot going on in our lives and we can’t be expected to watch 3-7 games per week of our own team playing basketball or baseball, Arena Football provides that nice, familiar, once every seven days opportunity to take a few hours off and catch a game. Oh, you have some extra time this week? You can watch every game from the week in a span of less than 24 hours.
It’s the top level of indoor/arena football
The AFL isn’t the NFL. Don’t focus on what it isn’t. Instead of a touchback after every score, you’ll see kick returns off a rebound net. Extra points aren’t automatic. Defense is critical and turnovers become more important when the offense is expected to score every time they touch the ball. The offensive line and defensive line are going to be in a one-on-one battle with the man across from them for 60 minutes. You’re going to have a 300-lb. man catch a pass at least once a game. Continue reading 11 Reasons You Should Spend Your NFL Offseason Following the Arena Football League→
Since #ThunderTopPlay never got properly resolved in 2015, let’s fix that early in 2015 with a Battle Royale among the final four.
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!
As I mentioned in my American Conference set, I’ve decided to create a set of Facebook cover images for AFL fans! The sides will drop off on mobile, leaving you with a still-useful and attractive cover image that displays your team’s home schedule.
Here are the images for the National Conference, all of which are found on my Pinterest page.
You can follow me on Twitter, too, to keep up on when I decide to make more images.
I wanted to take on a project yesterday, so I decided to make these Facebook cover images for anyone who’s an Arena Football League fan. If Facebook told me correctly in its sizing guide, the sides will drop off on mobile and you’ll still have a pretty good-looking cover image with the home schedule. And when you view them on the web, you’ll get the added bonus of being able to see your team’s away schedule!
Here are the American Conference images (NOTE: Philadelphia’s looks a little off because of where your profile picture will cover up; I wanted the logo to still be visible. It’ll look better on an actual page):
Note: I was working on these until nearly 3 a.m., so it’s possible I made some errors in transcribing the schedule. Let me know if your team’s is wrong and I’ll do my best to fix it quickly! If you’re a fan of a National Conference team, check out that set here.
After the Pittsburgh Power quit suddenly, prior to the original 2015 schedule release date, the league has finally moved on without the Power and allowed the rest of the league to move forward. Here’s what the schedule looks like (for full schedule with dates/times, click here):
The season kicks off on March 27 with the Tampa Bay Storm hosting the Cleveland Gladiators, followed by Matthew Sauk’s return to Portland with the Los Angeles KISS.
The game against the KISS kicks off a three-game homestand to start the season for the Thunder, who then go on a brutal three-game road trip that will amass nearly 8,000 miles in travel distance in three weeks as they’ll take on the three-time defending ArenaBowl champions, the National Conference runner-up, and a Philadelphia team that has made it to the ArenaBowl in two of the last three years.
Aside from the early part of the season, however, Portland’s schedule looks relatively nice. They have their bye weeks as evenly spaced out as possible, with a home game following each bye. They also get their East Coast trips out of the way early, with their last long journey being to Orlando in Week 9.
The Thunder, by virtue of their location, will travel more than any team in the league, however, assuming Philadelphia stays in Florida for their Jacksonville-Tampa Bay road trip, traveling 19,946 miles via air this season (though the team will probably bus to Spokane, making the trip longer).
They’ll also face the toughest road slate of anyone in the league, with opponents carrying a 2014 winning percentage of .625, the rough equivalent of an 11-win team (actually 11.25). The good news for Portland fans is that the home schedule should be a bit easier, with the fifth-easiest slate in the league.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, the 3-15 KISS probably aren’t going to be as dysfunctional as they were in 2014; they acquired a great offensive coordinator in former Portland coach Matthew Sauk. They picked up Adrian McPherson, the stud quarterback they didn’t have last year. Sauk is also the new director of player personnel – all he and his staff did in 2014 was find two All-Arena performers, a Grey Cup (CFL) champion, and a half-dozen guys who have signed NFL contracts.
It should be an interesting year for the Thunder, who are basically starting over with a new secondary and a new coaching staff. In a week or two we’ll know more about what the team may look like as we see what happens in the expansion draft and dispersal draft!
NOTE: For more schedule analysis on a league-wide basis, check out my article over at ArenaFan.com. The site and its members have a wealth of knowledge about the league and have extensive statistics dating to the creation of the league in 1987. Please give them a visit.
The fans determined that 3 > 2, in that three Douglas McNeil TD’s were better than two Varmah Sonie picks. However, they also determined that 2 > 3, in that the two seed, the forced fumble recovery in the end zone, beat out Antron Dillon’s fourth-down sack to put a dagger in the KISS’ comeback hopes.
So which is true this week? Does Dougie dash away with the LA’s entry into the semifinals?
Or will KC Obi and Bryce Peila combine to take that spot away?
Did you vote in the San Antonio Final? You should. You can find it here.
No upsets in the Florida bracket, which is probably the strongest bracket of the four, since we were able to use highlights from two games and battle them against each other.
Both of these are fantastic catches; we can probably assume that McNeil’s catch is going to continue a run to the regional finals, but let’s not underestimate the difficulty level in managing to stay under the bars on the jump, then getting down in time to tap the toes before hauling in the INT.