Arena Football needs the Arizona Rattlers to keep winning
The Arizona Rattlers miss the Arena Bowl for the first time in five years and look what happens to the Arena Football League.
The Arena Bowl television ratings drop from .58 in 2014 to .43 despite being on ESPN. A high school football game did better on the same day and network. The the team that won, the San Jose Saber Cats, folded shortly after. The New Orleans VooDoo and Las Vegas Outlaws also folded and its founder, Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil, is getting sued for fraud. The Spokane Shock followed the example of the Iowa Barnstormers and left the AFL for the Indoor Football League, where the check comes in at $250 per game.
And if that is not enough, the AFL has just taken over for the Portland Thunder, which usually never ends well.
The Arena Football League is the only truly legitimate league in indoor football and since it’s inception in 1987, it’s down to the fewest number of teams with only eight. There has no shortage of problems for the league since returning from bankruptcy that costed the entire 2009 season. Don’t forget that the players union once threatened to strike in 2012 and the Pittsburgh Power responded by dumping the entire roster at an Olive Garden in Orlando.
After all the chaos the AFL has been split in two conferences of four. The American Conference comprises of the Jacksonville Sharks, the Orlando Predators, the Philadelphia Soul and the Tampa Bay Storm. The National Conference consists of the the Cleveland Gladiators, LA Kiss, Portland Thunder and Arizona Rattlers. Since there are only eight teams, everyone gets to be in the playoffs.
This is all set up to allow the Rattlers to return to the Arena Bowl and sustain their dynasty. With the highest amount of Arena Bowl championships and appearances, the Rattlers are the Teflon Don of the AFL. They’ve been that way since the league’s return from the abyss.
I remember covering the Rattlers in parts of three seasons from 2011-13 and their games make the Talking Stick Arena look like a decent place to watch a game (Which reminds me, have the Suns ever thought about moving to Gila River Arena). From the crowds to the atmosphere, it seems like Arizona is the only place out west where Arena Football works. There and Florida, where the three teams in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa are staples of the league.
It also helps that the Rattlers have the Tom Brady of the AFL in Nick Davila. It’s no surprise that the Rattlers became a powerhouse as soon as he joined them in 2010. He is the first quarterback in the history of professional football to pass for 100-plus touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. The streak ended last season because of missed time but in six AFL season, Davila has thrown for 28,418 passing yards and 656 touchdowns against 80 interceptions.
He will go down as the all-time best player in Arena Football and as long as he’s slinging it for the Rattlers, it will be in the AFL’s best interest that their domination continues. It’s up to Davila and the Rattlers to be the saviors of Arena Football.