POSTED ON JANUARY 20, 2010:
Hitting the Ground Running
Newly formed AF1 league keeps alive Tulsa Talons arena hopes
Return to Form. The Tulsa Talons return in familiar uniforms and to a familiar arena April 3 in the teamís first season of the newly formed Arena Football One league.
"Pants on the ground, pants on the ground." Why is this silly nonsensical tune sweeping the nation? What steps must we take to extinguish it from our craniums?
It is fascinating how our brain works. Images--or in this case--songs entrench themselves deep in our cerebral cortex. This could also explain urban legends. I've read and heard that Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite. Whether it is true or not--the notion is out there.
Did you stumble upon the music section? No, but the challenge facing our beloved Tulsa Talons is similar to dispelling an urban legend: re-branding a known brand.
Quick recap: The Talons played (and dominated) in the af2 from 2000-2009. During this time frame, the Arena Football League was contested at a higher level than the af2. Talons players sought employment in the AFL.
The AFL folded (poor management) and several teams from the AFL and af2 (now defunct also) launched the new and improved Arena Football One league.
League offices for AF1 are located in Tulsa. Our home team remains nicknamed the Talons. The uniforms will look the same. The BOK Center is still home. So, how can the organization change the existing perception when Tulsans have a certain thought in their minds when talking Talons football?
"The caliber of play is going to be a lot higher than it has been in the past," said Talon's general manager Corey McIntyre. Let's hope he is right. Otherwise, it could be a long season for the Talons.
No longer will returning Head Coach Mitch Allner face the likes of Peoria and Macon. Now he'll battle against major markets such as Chicago, Dallas and Arizona.
McIntyre was quick to point out the level of play in af2 was solid. Many stalwarts were once prominent players in the Big 12 and SEC. The new league aims to be a notch or two above.
How will AF1 succeed where the AFL failed? If you guessed fiscal responsibility, give yourself a pat on the back.
For starters, the franchise fees are much lower to enter AF1 compared to the AFL. The players' salaries will be capped. No specifics were given, but the amount will be higher than the af2 and lower than the AFL model.
"With having only eight (home) games to generate revenue, it's not like we have a big revenue sharing from TV contracts like the NFL does," he said. "We don't play in 80,000 seat stadiums. We need to keep our expenses in check. Those are going to be the two biggest areas where we'll keep the expenses down to make it a viable league."
If you are curious about the viability of the Talons new league securing a television contract, they're working on it and having major markets such as Chicago, Dallas and Orlando helps immensely.
"I think you will see something at some point this year where there will be some national TV games," McIntyre said. He believes league officials have spoken with three or four networks to date.
From a competitive standpoint, the Talons will need to improve upon their 6,500 average attendance numbers from a season ago. For instance, Chicago averaged closer to 15,000. A happy medium for Tulsa should suffice.
Several Talons players from last year are set to return. However, do not expect the status quo approach to this season's roster.
"Mitch has gone out and signed eight or nine guys who already had AFL experience," McIntyre said. "Those are the caliber of players we're going to bring in, in order to compete."
The newly formed AF1 league launches with 15 teams. The divisions are set. Tulsa is joined by Oklahoma City, Bossier-Shreveport and Dallas in the Southwest Division of the American Conference.
The league plans to add more franchises next season, including possible former AFL teams looking to jump back into the arena football game.
The Talons open the inaugural season on Saturday, April 3 at 7pm against Tampa Bay. Sure sounds better than Macon, doesn't it?
A couple of parting shots before we head our separate ways for the week. Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids, and the situation in Haiti is hard to watch.
One of America's baseball saviors of the late '90s finally admitted what most of America already suspected. His public relations rounds were required.
He is the hitting coach under Tony La Russa with the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Had he not faced the allegations head on, the steroid cloud would have rained on the organization all year long.
We are a forgiving race. Our social climate keeps news cycles churning through at a rapid pace. We're conditioned to just move on. Heck, even Tiger Woods' sex-capades are an afterthought today.
The weird thing was listening to baseball aficionados clamor for more details from Big Mac. As if he owes specific sports writers a personal date when America simply does not care any more.
Some said the confession was "too little, too late." I disagree. Besides, I'm not here to talk about the past. Leave him alone and let's ostracize the next athlete who fails to live up to our lofty expectations.
Finally, in a gesture of good will, the Harlem Globetrotters will donate a portion of the proceeds from this weekend's double header at the BOK Center to the UNICEF Earthquake Relief efforts. The Trotters take on the E-for-effort Washington Generals Saturday, Jan. 23 at 2pm and 7pm.
Tickets are available at bokcenter.com. Enjoy the game, and know it's for a good cause.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A29078