The showdown in Jacksonville was a high intensity collision of football superheros and arena awesomeness. The National Arena League (NAL) should be proud of the entertaining package that was unleashed between the defending champions, Jacksonville Sharks and expansion Massachusetts Pirates. Both teams came to play and came to win. Unfortunately for the Florida coast town, the Pirates were able to hook a few sharks.
Although the score would not suggest, strong defense was the catch of the day (ugh, another bad pun). Jacksonville Sharks had several huge goal line stops and defensive plays that stalled the Pirates momentum. None of this was surprising coming from Jacksonville who claimed bragging rights receiving NAL’s defensive, special teams and offensive player accolades for week one. Some suspicious few would suggest these rankings may be slightly rigged toward the league's golden child, but others would say the Sharks are just that good. Jacksonville’s Charlie Hunt was named Defensive player of the week; Jamar Howard was named Offensive player of the week; and Nick Belcher was named special teams player of the week after their win over another expansion team, the Carolina Cobras.
But the Massachusetts Pirates had an answer for NAL champion. Sean Brackett, the arena football veteran who once donned the the infamous “JAX” on his chest put up some huge numbers for the Pirates. Brackett threw for 258 yards and 5 touchdowns and only one interception. It goes without saying those are big league numbers!
And of course, the Sunday game recap headline from the NAL read “Pirates Steal Win in Jacksonville” giving the impression that the Pirates offered no chance of winning. Brackett and company showed up to play, and play they did.
And let me just say for the record, Jacksonville didn’t lose the game, the Pirates won it. There was nothing the Sharks could have done better to put a “W” in their column, it’s just the Massachusetts Pirates are the real deal. Get over it, and get ready for a great season in Pirate Nation!