By RJ Ciancio
Head of NAL Coverage
With Columbus, Ohio getting an Arena Football League (AFL) team for the 2019 campaign, Arena Football Talk decided to look at the history of the sport in Cowtown.
Columbus got its first taste of AFL action in 1991 when the Columbus Thunderbolts were announced as an expansion team. The team played its games in the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum. Former Detroit Drive assistant coach Dave Wingham was the head coach and general manager of the team. However, Wingham’s inexperience as his respective positions showed as the team went an abysmal zero and ten. After the season the Thunderbolts relocated to Cleveland.
For the 2004 AFL Season the Buffalo Destroyers relocated to Columbus and were lead by veteran AFL coach Earle Bruce who hadn't coached since 2001 with the Iowa Barnstormers. There was liite rust for the seasoned coach as he lead the Destroyers to a six and ten record. For the 2005 season the Destroyers brought in former National Football League player Chris Spielman as head coach. Sadly, the former linebacker wasn’t able to to camptolize on the team’s 2004 success as they ended up with a two and fourteen campaign.
For the 2006 season the Destroyers made another coaching change as they brought in longtime arena coach Doug Kay to lead the team. The he hadn’t been a head coach since his 2001 season with Carolina Cobras, Kay remind all AFL fan that old habits die hard as he took the Destroyers to an eight win and eight loss record. The 2007 season would be the peak for the team as they went seven and nine. In the Wild Card Round the Destroyers defeated the Tampa Bay Storm in a 56-55 epic. In the Divisional Round the Destroyers defeated the Dallas Desperados 66-59 in shootout. Columbus continued its success by defeating th Georgia Force in the Conference Championship 66-56. The stellar season would come to a screeching halt as the San Jose Sabercats demolished the Destroyers 55-33 in ArenaBowl XXI. Coach Kay couldn't continue his magic as Columbus dropped to a three and thirteen record for the 2008 seacon, coasting the coach his job. The Destroyers planned to have Pat Sperduto lead the team in 2009. However, due to the AFL suspending operation for the 2009 campaign the team folded.
WIth Columbus getting a new AFL team a decade after they lost the Destroyers, the new AFL team has many eager fans to bring into a passionate fanbase. With the AFL looking to have a lot o upside we can plan to hear about the new Columbus team for the foreseeable future.