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Arena Football is Back!

Fan-friendly Arena Football is back! Prior to its one-year hiatus, the Arena Football League (AFL) was linked to the NFL, making it an avenue for players hoping to make the NFL for over 20 years. Think Super Bowl QB Kurt Warner and former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Tommy Maddox. The original Arena Football League also had a developmental arm, af2. The League had high-profile owners, such as John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi, but, was unable to remain viable during the economic downturn.

The new iteration of Arena Football was made possible when Arena Football 1 purchased old AFL assets in bankruptcy proceedings. Assets included team names, logos, video, film, records and other related items, totaling around $6 million. The new Arena Football 1 has teams from both the old AFL and af2. It’s notable that although Dallas will be represented in the new league, the team nickname will be the Vigilantes, not Desperados. Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, who also owned the AFL’s Dallas Desperados, was able to stop Arena Football 1 from claiming the Desperados name during the asset transfer.

Arena Football 1 games are broadcast live Fridays in prime time on NFL Network, in an effort to sustain viewership and to expand the brand. All teams are owned by Arena Football 1, with players and coaches serving as league employees. The inaugural game was played on April 2nd between Chicago Rush and Iowa Barnstormers. Chicago won 61-43.

Arena Football is a fast-paced, high scoring game played on an indoor field half the size of an NFL field. There are several rules which make Arena Football 1 different from the NFL:

There are 20 active players on the roster, along with four (4) inactive players. Players may play on both offense and defense. The game is divided into four (4) 15 minute quarters. If necessary, there is a 15 minute overtime period.

The field is only 50 yards long, with the end zone 8 yards wide. The field is comprised of artificial turf and is surrounded by padding. Goal posts are narrower with a higher crossbar. There are also “rebound nets” where the ball can bounce off and go back into the field of play.

When a team is on offense, there are eight (8) players on the field with four (4) players on the line of scrimmage. A receiver starts running often from behind the quarterback and runs forward full speed ahead as the ball is snapped. A legal catch occurs when an offensive player has one (1) foot inbounds/in the field of play. If a quarterback throws a forward pass and it bounces off the rebound net, the ball continues to be in play until it touches the ground. No punts are allowed, thus on fourth down, the offense can go for a first down, field goal or touchdown. Defense also has eight (8) players, with three (3) lineman.

Scoring can occur several ways. A touchdown is worth six (6) points. After the touchdown, an extra point conversion (where the kicker uses a tee) is worth one (1) point. Alternatively, a run or pass or drop kick conversion is worth two (2) points. If the offense fails to convert and the defense returns the conversion, the defense is awarded two (2) points. A field goal is worth three (3) points when a kicker uses a tee or four (4) points if the kicker drop-kicks. A safety is worth two (2) points.

Kickoffs occur from the goal line. If the kickoff goes out of bounds untouched, the ball is placed either at the place where the ball went out of bounds or at the 20 yard line, whichever spot benefits the offense the most.

The best part of the game is that some lucky fans have the opportunity to see the action up close and personal, since only padding separates seats from the field. If a ball so happens to go into the stands, the fan keeps the ball.

Arena Football 1 consists of 15 teams and is broken into the American Conference and Northern Conference. Each team plays a 16 game schedule for the chance to become the Arena Bowl champion. Here’s a list of the teams and their Conference/Division affiliation:

American Conference - South Division
Alabama Vipers
Jacksonville Sharks
Orlando Predators
Tampa Bay Storm

American Conference - South West Division
Bossier-Shreveport Battlewings
Dallas Vigilantes
Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz
Tulsa Talons

Northern Conference - Midwest Division
Chicago Rush
Iowa Barnstormers
Cleveland Gladiators
Milwaukee Iron

Northern Conference - West Division
Arizona Rattlers
Utah Blaze
Spokane Shock

It’s great that Arena Football 1 plays its games from April until August. Just as NFL fans are really starting to miss their favorite teams, they have the opportunity to bond with Arena Football 1 teams. If you love football, especially high scoring games like I do, check it out. To Arena Football 1...Welcome back and Good Luck!

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