The Bucs in the Arena League
OK, so Arena League football is about as exciting as 5-a-side soccer. Probably great fun to play but the novelty of watching wears off after a couple of minutes.
But whatever you may think of the actual league, it is now into its third decade of operation and is here to stay. Franchises remain pretty solid as does attendance, and the 2007 season will once again be shown on NASN.
The forthcoming season features a number of former Buccaneers or players with Buccaneer connections. And of course this is the league with a franchise, the Orlando Predators, coached by Jon Gruden's brother Jay, selected recently as the 4th greatest player in the history of the league. Former Buc and future Hollywood actor Pat O'Hara was often found facing him for the Tampa Bay Storm.
The most well-known ex-Buc is QB Shaun King who continues his spiral down the world of the gridiron by suiting up this spring for the Las Vegas Gladiators. King is a nice guy but has one hell of an over-rated opinion of how good he really is as his recent interview with The St.Petersburg Times showed. No that no NFL team will even give him a camp contract, time for the indoor football variety.
A more surprising signing for 2007 is Karl "The Truth" Williams lining up for the Tampa Bay Storm. Williams is well the wrong side of 30 now and has been out of football since being released by the Arizona Cardinals. I hope this is more a publicity stunt than a need for money as Karl did so many good things for the Buccaneers including winning a Super Bowl ring, to wind up needing to play Arena Football.
A couple of short-term Buccaneer kickers return to their roots in 2007, Jay Taylor with the Orlando Predators, and Todd France with the Philadelphia Soul. The latter are co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski, just one of many celebrity part-owners in the league.
Other former Bucs in the league this season include OL Shane Grice with the Georgia Force, WR Derek McCoy with the wonderfully-named New Orleans Voodoo, DL James Cannida with the Dallas Desperadoes and WR Larry Brackings with the Soul.
Some other Tampa Bay camp fodder who have found their niche in Arena ball include CB Carlos Hendricks (Chicago Rush), OL Chris Watton (Colorado Crush), DB Earthwind Moreland (Las Vegas), WR Chris Doering (Los Angeles Avengers), QB Shane Stafford (Orlando) and OL Phil Boyle (Philadelphia).
Paul Stewart, February 2007