I had the pleasure of being the TV color analyst last night for the Arena Football League matchup between the Jacksonville Sharks and the Tulsa Talons. I had never done that before and going in I didn’t really know what to expect. After my experience, I have come to realize that a color analyst is only good as his set up man. TJ Streight did the play by play and let’s just say made it real easy. But enough about me. I have to admit I never really got into the Arena Football League game. I went to a game back in the 90′s in Orlando and came away thinking that the game was okay. After last night’s experience, I have come to the realization that Arena football is pretty damn cool. After being a middle linebacker in the NFL for 5 years, I know that being at the elite level in football is the ultimate, but there is a place for the Arena game. First of all, it’s football, and the athletes are pretty athletic. The game is played in a condensed, quick hitting box. Everything is quick. Instincts from the players. Defensive linemen with their pass rushing moves. The quarterback getting the ball out. I know Kurt Warner is the poster child for QB’s going from Arena League to the NFL, but you can see the training that Arena QB’s get every time they take the field. Getting the ball out quick and putting it in the right spot is essential. Typically an NFL QB has to get he ball out under 4 seconds before someone is hitting his ass. In the Arena game, it goes down to under 2 seconds. Receivers have to run precise routes and are often under heavy pressure from the DB’s when they make the catch. There is no room for error in the Arena game because scoring can happen at any given time. Last night both the Sharks and the Talons scoerd over 60 points each. As a former defensive player, I can’t get too carried away with that, for if we ever gave up that many points we would have all been out of a job. But I have to admit, I was caught up in the excitement. The game was won on the last play of the game, a great throw to the back of the end zone. Aaron Garcia, the Brett Farve of the Arena League, became only the second player in the history of the league to throw for more than 900 touchdowns. That’s right 900! The crowd was amped up the whole time. They jam music all throughout the game, including a few tunes from my favorite rock n’ roll band, ACDC . They had some type of entertainment during every time out or at the end of each quarter. The 9,000 plus in attendance was rocking the whole time. The cheerleaders did their part, showing their stuff every chance they got. The coaches come out onto the field quite oten, and even the players and coaches get interviewed during the game. All in all, I was extremely impressed and I look forward to doing it again. At the end of the day, these Arena players would like nothing more than to showcase their talents at the highest level of football, but it’s great that they at least get to play the game they love. I think it just shows you how tough it is to make it to the NFL.
So, I’m in and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the game of football. It’s a different style but a high energy, high flying, anything can happen at any given time type of game. At the very least, it fills the void until Fall. If you want entertainemnt, and let’s face it, that’s what all fans want regardless of what they are watching, then the Arena Football League is just what youare looking for.
Have a great Sunday everyone. The McManus family will be heading to Mass then back to the casa for a day by the pool, drinking a couple of beers, and cooking out on the grill. Now that’s what I call a great way to wrap up the weekend.