Better Know a Team: Defunct Edition, Part I

14 03 2007

The most useful information we could provide for the now in-progress season would be a little synopsis of the teams that play in the Arena Football League. So, clearly, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to choose teams that are no longer in the league, and mock them incessantly.

You might want to have this handy-dandy chronological chart open in another window, because it’s my cheat sheet, and it’s awesome.

Inagural “Playtest” Teams:
Rockford Metros and Chicago Politicians (1987):

I know literally nothing about these teams, other than what the wikipedia article says. Apparently, these two teams were made up of semi-pros and recent college graduates, or possibly Lake Forest Academy students and escapees from the local mental institution. Who knows. In any event, you have one dumb name and location (Metros/Rockford) and one awesome name. I think sports teams should be named after uninspiring stuff more often. We could have the Atlanta Actuaries, the Saskatchewan Deja Vu, or the Portland Uvulas. Rockford was the home team, since it was infinitely cheaper to play in the Rockford MetroPlex than anything within the Chicago city limits.

  • You may have heard of: Nobody. I mean, for example, recently-deposed Alderman Burt Natarus was a Chicago politician at the time, but not a Politician.
  • Logos: No idea. Oh, FYI: logos will be rated out of 10 points, with 10 being exceedingly stupid, and 1 being the classiest logo in the joint.

The Inaugural 4:
Chicago Bruisers (1987-89):

The greatest of the four, because they played in Chicago. The Bruisers logo was a bulldog, which has forced me to find-and-replace all the “Bulldog” mentions with “Bruiser.” They appeared in ArenaBowl II (1988), and that’s really all that’s notable. 

  • You May Have Heard Of: Sean Payton played for them before he was a Spare Bear. Oh, and before he became coach of the Saints.
  • Logo: Kinda chintzy, but what do you want? It’s 1988. The Bulldog is at least vaguely menacing. The helmet’s nothing to write home about, either. Trust me. 5/10. Doesn’t make me vomit, or anything. 

Washington Commandos (1987, 1989-90)

While not telling their opponents to “Let off some steam,” or not to bother their friends who are “dead tired,” or failing to kill last those enemies they earlier implied they would, the Washington Commandos didn’t wear underwear. They actually were the Maryland Commandos in 1989, and didn’t participate in the league in the Weird Year of 1988. (More on the Weird Year later.) They also played on the campus of George Mason in 1987 and 1990, so you know.

  • You May Have Heard Of: The District of Columbia? These players must be terrible. Feel free to correct me if you know about AFL players/coaches from that era.
  • Logo: Uninspired, but won’t haunt my dreams or anything. 5/10.  The helmet looks pretty weird, at least according to this site (scroll to the bottom – be careful, as you can lose a lot of time at The Helmet Project.)

Denver Dynamite (1987, 1989-91):

Congratulations, Denver, you outlasted your brethren by a year.  They did win ArenaBowl I, which allowed them to spend the Weird Year lounging around showing off their ArenaBowl rings to people whose reaction was some variation of, “A-whaty what?”

  • You May Have Heard Of: Apparently, Vanderbilt star Whit Taylor was the QB for their Arena Bowl championship. I KNOW! The Whit Taylor. Granted, he was a wily veteran at that point, having graduated from Vandy in 1982, leaving a deavastated program that wouldn’t recover until Jay Cutler, under whose leadership they didn’t even really “recover” that much. They still haven’t had a winning season since Whit left. It’s the curse of Journeyman Whit Taylor (Also of the USFL). Oh, and Detroit Lions ex-helmsman Marty Mornhinweg played QB with them for them for a year, took 5 snaps, and chose the wind when allowed to call the coin toss. When questioned, he insisted that the HVAC system in McNichols Arena could affect their kicker.
  • Logo: Pretty much what Wile E. Coyote would order from Acme. I’m underwhelmed. 5/10.

Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987-1990):

Holy crap, this team’s still around! Albeit as the Tampa Bay Storm. Nevertheless, they do hold the distinction of being the only franchise to have hung around, relatively uninterrupted since the AFL’s inception. The only reason I’m going to break the rule I’ve yet to invent about following a team as it limps around the country, re-locating and re-branding itself, is because… I feel like it. They were decidedly uninspiring as the Gladiators (losers of Arenas Bowl I and III), but the Storm’ll be a good story, when I get there. Oh, yeah, no relation to the Las Vegas Gladiators. Apparently, that was a “coincidence.”

  • You May Have Heard Of: Mike Hohensee! Pride of the University of Minnesota, coach of the Chicago Rush, and a snappy dresser! In coming up one foot short of the goal line while quarterbacking the Washington Federals, he’s the USFL version of Kevin Dyson! Kind of! Threw the first TD pass in AFL history! Which is like being the first person to be served a hamburger at McDonalds! Or to bang Paris Hilton! Hi-O! Also, I’d like to contend that Wikipedia is awesome. Thank you for making my research easy and relatively painless.
  • Logo: Ah, now here’s a funky logo. The G is a fist, holding a sword, as a gladiator might! Awesome. And, I see you’ve chosen “mustard” and “vomit” for your colors. Intriguing. 7/10.  Because this’ll get worse, just you wait.



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