As a true football fan, I’ve come to have a deep sense of appreciation for what the Arena Football League has contributed to the game of football. For 31 years, the Arena League served as a “football fix” for hardcore football junkies who needed a taste of pigskin action. Hall of Fame Quarterback (and BTP Sports supporter) Kurt Warner used the Arena League to revive his struggling career, and the opportunity to play the fast-paced game kept Warner ready when the St. Louis Rams called the young gunslinger up to travel to Amsterdam to play in NFL Europe.
The league appears to be on its death bed, however, which is unfortunate. The most profound evidence that we’ve probably witnessed the last season of AFL football is by the fact that it crowned a champion that had won TWO games in the regular season, and lost a playoff game. Yes, that’s correct, the 2018 AFL champion Washington Valor won the ArenaBowl with a record of 2-10. The Valor were outscored during the regular season by 160 points, a losing margin of over 13 points per game on average.
The AFL, which once had as many as 19 teams all over the United States, is now down to just four teams in the northeast thanks to teams collapsing or moving to rival leagues. Of the four current AFL teams in Albany, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore, three were formed in the last three seasons.
The semifinals of the AFL have a 2-game, home-and-home double-elimination format. So the Valor and Empire played a second game in Albany. The Valor won the rematch, 47-40, to advance to the Arena Bowl based on the aggregate score of the two games.
The Albany Empire, who beat the Valor in all four meetings, finished 8-4 and earned the top seed in the postseason, and a semifinal matchup with Washington. Albany beat Washington again, 57-56 on July 14 in their playoff opener, but because the semifinal round is a double-elimination format, the Valor remained alive. Then, in the Arena Bowl, the Valor defeated the Baltimore Brigade, 69-55.
Um yeah…rest in peace Arena League.