It’s here! Really! All times Central!
1:33 – Fort Bragg’s Army Chorus is singing “America the Beautiful.” They’re really good. They know the second verse! I didn’t know there was a second verse. Or this third verse, that’s really really fast. We totally could end the sectarian violence in Iraq, if we sung at them. The bad guys’d be all, “Why didn’t you tell us this earlier? America sounds great! Purple mountains, you say?” I don’t know the second song they’re singing, but it sounds Country. Oh, it’s that “Freedom Isn’t Free” song. Right? No, wrong. Crap. “I’m an American Soldier.”
Wow. They’re having guys take the oath of enlistment on the field. I really respect the shit out of the United States Armed Forces. Hopefully they get to watch the game before they go to boot camp.
1:41 – Apparently, Neil Patrick Harris is playing trumpet in some Army Jazz Band called “Swamp Romp.” This is the weirdest thing ever. Okay, it’s not Doogie Howser, but a reasonable facsimile. The lead guy kind of looks like Sean Penn. The combination of army fatigues and Dixieland Jazz and the doppelgangers of NPH and Sean Penn is going to make my head explode.
1:46 – I want to have one of these pregame montages made about my life. It’s the best part of any sporting event. Try to deny that. You can’t. In other news, I need to get the Batman Begins soundtrack. Holy shit. The game ball was delivered by guys rapelling down from the rafters.
1:50 – Introductions are set to the hip-hop version of Carmina Burana. I think Carl Orff is all right with that. Columbus enters the stadium. We’ve switched to Click Click Boom – it’s a little more traditional. They stole their fire from the Harry Potter movies it’s all color-changing and what-not. Whee! Indoor fireworks, the whole thing. Good times.
If you’re curious, the crowd seems to be weighted towards the San Jose two-dozen. But there are still a surprising amount of empty seats, so that could change. Columbus fans might just be institutionally tardy. Joe says that, based on the tunnel exits, San Jose’s got this one.
1:54 – Presentation of the colors, etc. I’m typing standing up. It’s monstrously awkward. Just like my life. Miss America 2007 sings the National Anthem. She’s pretty. There are wolf-whistles from the crowd that would seem to support this hypothesis. She does a good, if a little logy, rendition.
1:58 – The best thing that ever happened to sports montage makers was the release of Pirates of the Carribean. There are little shrines to Klaus Badelt in all their homes.
2:01 – It is pretty fucking loud in here. The standard “Make some noise” scoreboard exhortation is subheaded with “You’re on national TV!!!” Hee! The mascots and Aaron’s Dream Team are taking the field now. We’ll eventually address this, but they range from the reasonable (the Blaze’s dalmation) to the horrifying (New Orleans’ Skeletor-guy, and both of Georgia’s… things). Aaron’s Dream Team, however, are very pretty.
2:04 – Before Klaus Badelt, arena sound and video guys had The Alan Parsons Project. Bwwwaaaaah…. Bwaahhhhh…. Doo noo noo, doo noo noo…
2:05 – Tails never fails. Columbus will kick.
2:06 – Jock Jams? Really? Michael Buffer also was canonized along with Badelt, Alan Parasons Project, and Rock and Roll Part II. But seriously: Jock Jams? Is this 1997?
Okay, so with 1:00 to game time, this place is at about 2/3 capacity. For being sold out, that’s kind of weird. Hey – San Jose fans brought their cowbells! Remind me how cowbells relate to San Jose or smilodons californis? Also, 1:00 to game time was a dirty lie. That timer expired about 90 seconds ago. LIES! What makes you lie, scoreboard?
2:11 – KICKOFF!
Kickoff returned to the 17. The atmosphere is, to be cliche, electric. Grieb gets moving. You can tell he’s been here before.
Three incomplete passes to the corners of the end zone, one that might have been flag-worthy, but they were safely out of the hands of any player. It’s not like the story Grieb told at media day about his first game when, seeing no one open, he tried to throw the ball out the back of the end zone, as you do, but forgot about the nets back there, and was picked off.
Touchdown SaberCats – Brian Johnson, who was a late addition to the starting lineup, barrels in. 7-0 San Jose, 11:09 left in the first.
2:18 Josh Bush returns the ball out of the end zone, and finds space due to a block in the back. Nagy’s going to have to start from the 3 and a half.
Nagy to Groce results in not only a first down, but Groce’s head being nearly taken off by Marquice Floyd. They have words after the play. Nagy completes a pass to Magner, after staring a hole through his helmet. Hey, San Jose, the guy Nagy’s STARING at is the guy he’s going to throw to.
George Williams bats the ball down at the line. If he had two hands on that, you could’ve added 6. Fortunate. A battle of wills at the 1…
2:23 – Touchdown, Destroyers! A relatively large man crashes through the line for the TD. I don’t know. XP is good, 7-7, 6:33 left in the first. 4:14 was the time of the drive, and Harold Wells was the relatively large man. Thanks, disembodied press box voice!
Let me tell you something else, dear readers: ESPN broadcasts mean a metric fuckton of commercials. The players are antsy, the fans are antsy, we’re antsy. Let’s get back to scoring points with extreme prejudice!
2:26 – Kickoff returned to the 20. Peter Martinez was setting up to blow up another lengthy return, but one too many jukes stopped the return.
It’s my favorite play in Arena Football: the motion man (Wright) is about 17 yards offsides. That’s a paddlin’.
2:29 – I’m also going to take this time to mention that the Aaron’s Dream Team have changed out of their relatively heinous – hang on -
Touchdown, SaberCats! That was fast. Holy hell, that’s a pretty fade thrown by Grieb. 14-7, San Jose. 3:11 remains.
Anyway, the cheerleaders changed out of the relatively heinous Aaron’s ketchup-and-mustard colored uniforms and into their team-specific attire. That means ISF Most Favored Cheerleader Brooke has broken out the chaps. Good times.
[Update: Joe got a photo. This is what we in the business call "teamwork." It's heartwarming.]
Ooh, records montage: 166 receptions, first ever 2000-yard season, a bunch of first downs… Siaha had a pretty good season. I guess that’s why he was the offensive player of the year
2:33 – Kickoff returned to the 7. Let’s see who Nagy can overthrow on this drive. He’s a nice guy, but let’s face it: he’s a little wild with his heaves.
Alan Harper not only jumps offsides, but makes it all the way to Nagy, who backpedals like a maniac, but to no avail. Harper makes like he just intended to give Nagy a friendly hug, and the offensive line requests politely that he disentangle himself from their quarterback.
There we go! Our first incidence of a receiver having his head snapped back by the unforgiving wall! Magner makes the diving catch and leads with his head into the wall. That’ll take us to the end of the quarter.
Wait, WHY IS THERE AN ADT TRUCK ON THE FIELD? Has there been a break in? Did someone forget to punch in the code when they came into the arena?
Oh, it’s just some ADT guy with the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Mr. White seems pleased with his trophy. You know that if he moves up to the League, that’s turning into a doorstop. And it’s not even going to stop an important door; it’s going in the third bedroom or something.
2:41 – Top of the 2nd quarter, and if Cole Magner uses 2 hands, that’s a touchdown.
Hey, Brandon Heflin set the arena post-season league record for tackles with 38 just now. Thanks, disembodied press box voice!
Nagy, totally fucked, scrambles for an eternity and then throws the ball into the stands. A jumpy SaberCat linebacker leaves the stupid linebacker box, so all his team’s defensive pressure was for naught.
2:43 – We are not very good at keeping quiet in the press box. It’s open to the stands, which means we’re not getting in trouble. So, that’s good. The reason I bring this up is that there was a pass-interference call in the end zone, we both went “Oooh,” and immediately looked at each other, and then around to see if anyone noticed.
Nagy apparently took hardcount lessons from Tony Graziani last week, because he just pulled the entire defensive line offsides. On the ensuing play, the SaberCats defense just smothers Johnson at the line.
[Note: Sorry for the delay, guys, the network here isn't very fast.]
2:47 – Touchdown, Destroyers! Hilliard – an offensive lineman, mind you, pulls in the lob pass, and Nagy’s a-dancin’. 14-14, 10:03 remains in the second.
2:50 – San Jose returns the kickoff for a touchdown! Please don’t make us go back to commercial… Oooh, A.J. Haglund misses the extra point. That’s going to come back to haunt them. 56-yard return for Trestin (really? That’s his first name?) George. 20-14, SaberCats, 9:06 remains in the half.
2:53 – Well! Josh Bush has to get tackled by San Jose K and diminutive Casanova A.J. Haglund to avoid back-to-back touchdown returns.
Interception, Clevan Thomas. We’re going the other direction. That’s the mistake San Jose was looking for. If San Jose scores on this drive, well, let’s just say they don’t give up those sorts of leads easily…
2:57 – I just realized how much we relied on the TV feeds for these liveblogs in the past. If we can’t make fun of the Team of Mike or listen in to coach-player arguments, we have to talk about the game. Weak. On that note: Grieb buys himself some space, and completes two quick passes. He’s getting hit a wee bit after these plays, but nobody seems to mind.
Hm. An elusive Rodney Wright is dragged into the wall by his pads, which apparently is a personal foul. That pushes the SaberCats inside the five, where they traditionally have a little bit of difficulty. Indeed, three consecutive rushes don’t go anywhere. 4th and 1, and they’ll go for it.
While we have an equipment time out so they can fix Mr. Johnson’s helmet (I think), I’m also calling shenanigans on the “EA Sports Noise Meter.” That needle started moving before anyone made any sound. If you can’t trust your scoreboard graphics, what can you trust?
4th and 1: Touchdown! Grieb, inventive, scores with a sweet shovel pass to somebody while scrambling for his life. XP is good, 27-14, San Jose, 3:01 left in the half. Who was that receiver, disembodied press box voice? George Williams? Thank you.
3:06 – My co-editor is manning the comments and whatnot, and says I should say hi to Detective Bunk, TSW, jcompton, et al. So, hello to our readers. I hope this is reaching you in somewhat contemporaneously with the actual action.
Josh Bush really wants to get out of the end zone on the kickoff, but is unable to.
Nagy throws a bomb that I initially thought was just a really shitty pass, but it turns out he got killed on the play. I’m an excellent analyst. But it turns out I’m vindicated, as they ran the same play again (Nagy to Groce, deep), and he overthrows Groce by 10 yards.
Hot dogs will be available at halftime in the rear of the left press box! That’s where we are! Free food? Awesome. Also awesome is the montage of the 2007 Hits of Doom. I can’t decide whether or not the gasps of horror from the crowd are piped in or not.
This would be where we’d be told that there’s no punting in Arena Football. Wait, what the fuck just happened? It looks like Peter Martinez fell down… was that some kind of fake? He fell into the ball, it squirted out to the 3-ish, some Columbus player picked it up and carried it a couple yards, and everyone reacted like this was perfectly normal.
And once again, San Jose’s struggling inside the red zone – however far that actually is. Oh, and that turns out to be an understatement: fumble, recovered by Columbus. We’re going the other way, but there’s only 29 seconds left in the half… Will it be enough?
3:18 – Nagy, dumped by Ron Jones. Time out, Columbus. I wish I could be listening to Coach Wilford Brimley and Matt Nagy right now. Somebody tell me what they’re arguing about this time. Those two wacky kids. Will they ever make it work?
Nagy, with the rarely-utilized 17-step drop, throws 15 yards behind Bush. Holding, defense. That’s a gift to Columbus. :16 left, and Columbus has 34 yards to travel.
Matt Nagy and the Destroyers have to burn a time out, and it looks like Nagy’s donned his crabby pants for the game. He looks, from up here, more unhappy than an Illinois Nazi standing outside of Wrigley Field.
Short pass, the wall stops the clock with less than a minute left in the half.
WELL! Fan interference, much? A Douchey Adam Brody-esque kid falls into the field of play and breaks up the pass with his noggin. The good news is that he almost killed himself doing it, and that would’ve served him right. Though it’s hard to apply life lessons that are lethal. I appreciate alliteration. That’s going to force a field goal as the half ends which is… missed.
Your halftime score: 27-14, San Jose.
Your halftime entertainment: The Rebirth Brass Band. If these are the guys we have to thank for the irritating Arena Bowl commercials, I’m going to have an aneurysm.
Re: the hot dogs, I’ve been trying to remember the Eddie Izzard bit. Sadly, the hot dogs… are. They’re hot dogs, and they ran out of buns. You could’ve added chili to your dog, were you so inclined.
3:39 – Were starting the second half. Bush dances on the return to the 7. By the way, reports of a sell-out were exaggerated, at best. There are sections that are largely empty in the 300-level, and there’s a lot of seats free in the lower level as well.
They finally almost manage the Nagy-Groce bomb, but Groce is interfered with and can’t come down with it. First down on the penalty.
Apparently the halftime plan was to incorporate a lot of the screen-and-make-moves play. Who’s running this offense, Gary Crowton? John Shoop?
Cole Magner just made the play of the afternoon out of a spectacular fuck-up. Tipping it to yourself always makes the highlight reel, but when you tip it to yourself and have to lay out to complete the catch, that’s really cute.
3:45 – Again, Columbus misses out on a TD catch by trying to make it one-handed. Le sigh. The screen-and-scramble brings up 4th down and goal.
Touchdown, Destroyers! The crowd is surprisingly subdued at this development. If there’s one thing arena QBs can do, it’s throw the lob fade to the corner of the end zone. 27-21, San Jose, and there’s 8:09 left in the 3rd
According to the disembodied press box voice, total tickets sold: 17,056, with 15,147 the turnstile attendance. Capacity is 19,000. That’s your sell-out, AFL? Weak sauce. However, both of the records are neutral-site Arena Bowl records. Though I’m going to have to do some research on where the Las Vegas Arena Bowls were actually held, to see if there’s a limiting condition there.
3:50 – Kickoff returned to the 11. Hee: on the first down, the down marker falls over. Because they just lean it against the wall, you know. How Ben Nelson (who we talked to and is awesome) got wide open, I will never know, but he did, and brings San Jose to the 8. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in the Zone of Molasses. Though Grieb did try to mix it up by throwing a pass off the net. A somewhat specious pass interference call on that play gives San Jose a new set of downs, and rousts 6 or 7 San Jose fans to ring their cowbells.
3:54 – For those of you curious, now they’re recycling crowd noise.
Grieb completes a nice fade pass in the end zone… to a large-ish VooDoo fan. Next play, touchdown, Grieb to Nelson. Ben Nelson slips his defender, and trots in unmolested. XP is good, 34-21 San Jose, 3:06 left in the third.
Oh, in more Aaron’s Dream Team news, there’s a crazy-eyed redhead in this group, which is ordinarily my wheelhouse. I don’t know how I missed that before.
3:58 – Fuck you, Media Time Out. We just HAD a timeout when San Jose scored. They’ve used up all the cool montages already. Worse news: we get the Arena Football videogame ad that Joe hates again, so it looks like he might kill someone.
Josh Bush gets OBLITERATED after catching Nagy’s pass. Any “Ooooh” you heard was real. That’s the most noise this crowd’s made in 18 minutes of game time.
4:01 – As Nagy can’t find anyone open, he languidly flips the ball into the stands, and everyone in the area has the damnedest time catching it. It seriously bounces off no less than 8 pairs of hands before landing in the aisle. Joe makes a good point: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if, on a play like that, he just stopped, turned and handed the ball to whatever fan he was standing next to?”
Once again, the Groce bomb is incomplete. Once again, there’s a little pass interference (this time, not called). Once again, they run the same play, and this time it works: touchdown, Columbus. Martinez clangs the extra point, and it’s 34-27 as the quarter ends.
It’s a one-score game as we enter the 4th quarter. I’m as surprised as you are. “It doesn’t feel like a one-touchdown game, does it?” Joe asks.
The City of New Orleans is thanked by the AFL, and it gets a nice cheer. The contest in between quarters is the old “Kick a field goal, win a trip” game, and the guy misses wide He had the height and distance. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.
Also of note: this crowd is pretty notably weighted towards Columbus. Now that their team is showing signs of life, so are their fans.
4:08 – Kickoff is almost mis-managed off the post, but San Jose hauls it in. For some reason, they just started gradually turning the lights in the press box up, and it’s driving me insane.
Grieb to Nelson, Grieb to Roe, Grieb to Roe, Grieb to Roeand I don’t think San Jose’s screwing around anymore. 1st and Goal, SaberCats.
Nice flip to Roe, and the San Jose bench wants the touchdown, but the ball is spotted inside the 1.
The next play is run in by Phil Glover, and the refs don’t call the touchdown for what seems like an eternity. That was weird. The XP is good, 41-27 San Jose, 10:28 left in the game.
I’m enthralled by the Best of ESPN Miked-up. I take back everything I said about them being out of good montages. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: they should broadcast a feed on, like, HBO, so we can include all the language.
4:17 – Columbus starts their drive, and they have to make a move right now. A move that does not include Nagy skipping a pass to his wide receiver. Incidentally, the cowbells are back out.
Interception, Omar Smith, who then takes a nap on the ball in celebration. Using the ball as a pillow: that’s a really underrated celebration. The San Jose faithful just made a relatively shocking amount of noise: I had assumed something had poisoned all of them, because they had been pretty quiet.
Bryant Gumbel, circa 1986, sighting! The old SportsCenter broadcasts of Arena Football just got shown here. That was great.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to vote for the players of the game now. This is silly.
Okay, so I’ve voted for Mark Grieb as Offensive Player of the Game and MVP. Omar Smith get my vote for Defensive Player of the Game, and Phil Glover as Ironman of the Game. I wish I could think of somebody on Columbus to vote for, because it’s always interesting when a player from the losing (I think it’s safe to assume at this point) team wins something.
4:26 – Touchdown, Grieb to Roe. That’s a 1:26 drive, gang. Columbus fans are starting to file out, there’s a small section of the San Jose crowd singing “Whoomp, There It Is.” I’m serious. I can hear them because they’re pretty much the only ones making any significant noise.
4:28 – The kickoff is returned just out of the end zone, so Nagy starts in the shadow of his own goalposts. It occurs to me that that statement only makes sense when there are goalposts and when you’re outside with light that produces shadows. While I took the time to type that, Nagy actually moved 30 yards.
Some illegal formation penalty that I’m not familiar with takes five yards off of that, and Nagy tries to make that penalty pointless with a dart into the end zone. Whoever that was got murdered by the DB, and that’s pass interference. Nagy’s next pass into the stands is again mishandled by thirty-seven people. But the NEXT pass is a jump ball between David Saunders and a fan, and the fan wins! Saunders clobbers a poor little kid in the effort, but stands there for 20 seconds or so to make sure he’s okay. That’s pretty nice.
Touchdown, Nagy to Saunders, in rather pedestrian fashion. It’s a fake! Peter Martinez actually scrambles for 15-20 seconds, and flings it out the back of the end zone. He showed some moves there. You know, for a kicker. 48-33, San Jose, and we’re at the 1:00 warning.
4:37 – Marquis Floyd of the SaberCats comes down with the onsides kick, and the “Whoomp! There It Is” fans are now singing “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye.” When they’re not singing, it’s just that sort of restless semi-silence.
4:40 – Brian Johnson runs it in for the touchdown, and that’s really, really, really going to do it for Columbus. Troy Reddick gets mysteriously flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. I wish I knew what he did. I was looking at other things.
4:41 – Ooh, shiny!
4:42 – The comedy comes in spades, as we get the “Fat Guy On the Jumbotron Lifts His Shirt and Manipulates His Belly To ‘I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night,'” shot. :38 seconds left, 55-33, San Jose.
Columbus uses their last time-out. I start to think about how painful the drive home’s going to be. Perhaps we can find a Holiday Inn Express in Effingham, IL or something.
:16 left, and the San Jose bench starts celebrating.
Nagy is sacked, and that’ll do it. San Jose wins their third Arena Bowl title. Whee! 55-33, San Jose is your final score.
“Celebration?” Really? That song SUCKS.
4:49 – Postgame liveblogging, at no cost to you, the reader: They’ve set up a rope line, like they’re afraid somebody’s going to storm the field or something. I’d think if anything like that were to happen, it would’ve happened already. That’s weird.
Giant Commissioner David Baker is presenting the James Foster trophy. I think fans of New Orleans outnumber the fans of either team playing today.
HEE! David Baker called it the “All Fun League.” In your FACE, NFL! Here comes the confetti! That’s not coming out. To steal a joke – Glitter: The Herpes of Craft Supplies.
4:53 – Mark Grieb is your Arena Bowl XXI MVP. He wins a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder – which, incidentally, is the Official Car of the Official Yeti Roommate of It’s Still Football. - and is handed the keys by the president of Mitsubishi. He has to be INCREDIBLY confused: “What is this nonsense? I was told that your American Football is played on 100-yard fields! And what are those monstrosities in the end zones? I haven’t been this confounded since I was told it was in poor taste to refer to China as ‘Manchuko.'”
The award winners are all the guys I voted for. How nice. Meanwhile, the All Cliche League played “We Are the Champions” and, though they resisted for the rest of the game, they broke out “Rock & Roll, Part 2.” Oh well.
Well, that’s it. Look for other nonsense from Arena Bowl Weekend tomorrow, and then we’ll see what’s next. This was fun: thanks for your kind attention, gang. I’m out.