Have you ever rode on a roller coaster? The ups-and-downs, curves, turns, side-to-side, whiplash inducing effects can leave one reeling, frightened, or. . .exhilarated! Being an adult male, I'm not really in tune with my feelings to let you know what I think about it. However, watching this roller-coaster of an offseason in professional arena/indoor football has been nothing short of entertaining. I've laughed; I've cried; was frustrated, angry, elated, joyful, and everything in between. Having this many emotions in such a short amount of time, has made me question if men are capable of having periods. The theatrics and suspense of this frustrating offseason leaves me to say one thing to the fans: "Get yer popcorn ready!"
From the photo above, you'll see 3 champions from a year ago, 3 expansion teams, two that have been removed from a previous league, and a slew of teams that couldn't finish a season a year ago. Here's a quick sum up of some of the offseason moves:
American Arena League sells to Jersey Bearcats owners AJ Roque and Jermaine Sanders. Of the 13 AAL teams that played in 2021, only one is still in the AAL. The Jersey Bearcats. AAL Champion North Texas Bulls joined a new regional league called the Arena Football Association (AFA), which includes another champion in the West Texas Warbirds. Joining the 6-team league are the Amarillo Venom, Texas Jets, Rio Grande Valley Dorados, and Magnolia State Spartans.
Arguably the AAL's best team last year, the Charlotte Thunder started their own league, called the Arena Professional Football League. AAL teams West Michigan Ironmen and Pennsylvania Union have joined them as well as the Carolina Cowboyz, and the previous National Arena League partner, the Jersey Flight.
The Tampa Bay Tornados rebranded to the Cyclones and started the American Indoor Football Alliance. Mississippi Raiders joined along with the Carolina Predators, the Las Vegas Kings, and the St. Charles Bandits (previously St. Louis).
Out West, in the American West Football Conference, the Yakima Canines were removed from the schedule and replaced by the travel team, the Washington Elite. Champion Tri-City Rush returns and will hold matchups versus the Idaho Horsemen, Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks, Oregon High Desert Storm, and the expansion SoCal Red Tails, in addition to the Elite.
Two leagues with 6 teams, and two leagues with 5 teams. One has to wonder what will become of the Wichita Force, since they've been removed from the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league. My speculation? They join the AFA, who has two other CIF escapees. Relatability has a curious power.
Early predictions? Stay tuned. First game out of the gate will have the Arlington Longhorns visiting the SouthWest Kansas Storm on February 27, 2022!
by Ducon Williams