AFL Team Doesn’t Really Get What “Fold” Means

We continue to mourn the effective end of the Arena Football League today after their announcement that the league was folding and declaring bankruptcy. We fondly remember spending a few evenings in Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, watching Kurt Warner throw touchdowns to guys we’d never heard of as the Barnstormers proved you can have a terrible team name and still succeed in the world of professional sports.

Animal House Speech
(Nothing is over until Grand Rapids decides it is!)

But one Arena Football team isn’t taking the bad news lying down. The Grand Rapids Rampage, which sounds like a bad neurological livestock disease, are “committed to putting a team on the field.” Guys, that just sounds like practice but with the nice uniforms on.

Read more…

Buffalo Bill Bailout: Wilson Rescued Pats, Raiders

Ask anyone about the fathers of the modern NFL, and you’ll probably hear some familiar name: Halas, Lambeau, Lombardi, Leaf. One name any football enthusiast ought to get familiar with, though, is the founder, owner, and president of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson. Wilson, like semi-human horror show Al Davis, was one of the originators of the AFL, which eventually merged with the NFL in the mid-’60s. But as the new book, The Birth of the New NFL points out, that merger (and Super Bowl and half the NFL) almost didn’t happen without some financial heroics on Wilson’s part.

Ralph Wilson couple
(Is Ralph Wilson frightening compared to his wife? Sure. But next to Al Davis, he looks… more like his wife.)

Take, for example, the beloved New England Patriots. Back in the AFL Era, they were still the Boston Patriots, and unlike today, they were not doing so hot. Their records were middling-at-best, not terrible, but they were not the class of the league. Worse, they were in dire financial straits. As the author, Larry Felser explains: “they were very rocky and probably about to close business and Ralph lent the owner Billy Sullivan a great deal of money to keep the team afloat.”

Another time, Wilson had to save a fellow team–and to bend the rules doing so. Read more…