Hey, so there are an awful lot of teams that played in the Arena League and don’t anymore. At this rate, we’ll get to actual active current teams when their rosters are comprised of those Esurance robots and whatnot.
Here’s the chart, for those of you that like those.
Logos graded from 1-10. Grade 1 logos you’ll cuddle with and discuss the future. Grade 10 logos try to avoid making eye contact with on the train. No, I take that back, you actively move to another
car train city.
Today: 1995 and 1996 expansion/contraction.
Memphis Pharaohs (1995-96)/Portland Forest Dragons (1997-99)/Oklahoma Wranglers (2000-01):
First of all, the Oklahoma Wranglers are no relation to the current Austin Wranglers. That out of the way, the Portland Forest Dragons is the greatest team name ever, in terms of silliness. “Run! A dragon!” “What biome, specifically, does this dragon hail from?” “Forest!” “SHIT!” Way more menacing than those urban dragons you find in Portland, Oregon. Though a Taiga Dragon would be good times. The Memphis Pharaohs were a) named well and b) played in The Pyramid Arena, which is GREAT. That’s the sort of synchronicity I’m down with. Memphis in the 90’s was all about the concept of “Remember that we’re not named randomly! There’s a Memphis in Egypt, and it’s important! So we’re important! We’re more than just Graceland!” So, they built the third-largest pyramid in the world. Of course. Oh, and it’s not being used for anything right now, just like the pyramids in Egypt, so that’s probably troublesome. Sporting-wise, these teams had a total record of 32-67, which is pretty wretched, including one winless season, the final in Memphis. Lack of cash and support looks like the demise in each city. Memphis actually literally got evicted from The Pyramid before the end of the 1996 season, Portland’s owner couldn’t sell to another Portland-based ownership team, and they just said “Fuck it,” after failing to catch on in Oklahoma.
- You May Have Heard Of: Oronde Gadsden, also of the Miami Dolphins. Also holds the distinction of catching Dan Marino’s 420th and final touchdown pass. Which, as we mentioned Tuesday, is a number that is a teeny speck in the rear-view mirror of Dr. Clint Dolezel.
- Logo: Well, Memphis’ primary logo is uninspiring in practice, but delightful in theory. The P that’s a Egyptian headdress thing? Clever, but not as clever as their uniforms that made the helmet into a headdress. Savvy. The Forest Dragons logo looks quite good, as does the Wranglers logo. The Wranglers logo brings me the same joy as did the Fort Worth Cavalry logo, but with a better color scheme. Oh, and bull horns on the W? The horseman is wrangling the W? I really like this. And the Dragon isn’t cartoony, so we win, all the way around. Well done. Memphis: 2.5/10, Portland 2/10, Oklahoma 1.3/10. I don’t know why 1.3. But I like it. A lot.
The Iowa Barnstormers/New York Dragons and San Jose SaberCats also were introduced in 1995, but they’re still around, so we move on to:
Minnesota Fighting Pike (1996):
Really? Fighting Pike? PIKE? Not only is that insane, but they were 0-7 at home in their only season, and nobody came to their games in the Target Center. This is vaguely surprising, because the roster, according to my (extremely limited) research was made up of a number of home-town-y kind of guys from the University of Minnesota or other Minnesota-y kind of colleges. But they weren’t a draw at all, and were disbanded. And they were named the Pike. Wikipedia says they just shut down and vanished in the night. Melted away like they were never there… Some say they still haunt the halls of the Target Center, dropping passes in the middle of the night.
- You May Have Heard Of: Mike Vanderjagt. For reals! Between stints in Canada and then, of course, heading to Indianapolis, he was the BACKUP kicker for the fucking Pike. (Which would’ve been a way better name than the Fighting Pike.) Jesus.
- Logo: This is ludicrous. Angry fish! Get down! Actually, this fish looks like a fish I wouldn’t like to meet, eat, or locate in an aquarium, so points to you guys for making me go “Eeeeghhh…” It looks vaguely prehistoric, too. Especially with the font. But yech. Olive drab and brownish-gold are the colors, too. Go to hell, Minnesota Fighting Pike. 9/10.
Texas Terror (1996-97)/Houston ThunderBears (1998-2001):
The best part about these two teams was that they were the same team. They didn’t move venues, I don’t think they were sold, they just said “Hey, this Terror thing isn’t working out, let’s name ourselves something else, and align ourselves directly with the city we occupy,” in kind of a California Angels -> Anaheim Angels -> Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Environs kind of a way. Of course, this didn’t necessarily make people care. Their one win in ’96 was against the Pike, and they had one winning season, 1998. In 2001, they took the Drunky McSwervecrash World Tour, playing none of their home games in Houston, failed to find a new permanent home, and were disbanded.
- You May Have Heard Of: Dr. Clint Dolezel, Ph.D. in Touchdownology. He also has a Master of Arts in Fucking You Up. Boy, I’m swearing a lot in this post. I may have mentioned AFL journeyman Todd Hammel, who also lined up behind center for them. But Clint! Woo!
- Logo: Wow, is this Saturday Morning Cartoon Time, or what? My favorite is the “Let’s Jam as Much Imagery as is Humanly Possible” theory of the ThunderBears logo. Also, teal and purple was replaced by blue and orange. Great. At least the ThunderBears’ helmet wasn’t as busy as the logo. Just a big paw with a football. 9.6/10 for the Terror, and 9.7/10 for the ThunderBears.
Before I leave this installment, I’d like to provide a dramatic re-enactment of my theory on how the Texas Terror/Houston ThunderBears re-branding meeting went down:
“Okay, so we need to come up with a new identity for the Terror, because right now, this sucks.”
“But my daughter’s drawing of Frankenstein with a football…”
“Jenkins, she’s a very good artist for a 10th grader, but it’s just not working, so shut your voluminous piehole. What can we re-name these guys? I want something… menacing.”
“Ayn Rand novels!”
“Rabid werewolves that eat other wolves!”
“Wait, stop – what was that? Write down Thunder; that always makes me pee myself when it wakes me up in the middle of the night. But it’s too vague. How the heck are we going to represent the Houston Thunder?”
“Make it a Thunder-something!”
“Sweet! I fucking love the Thundercats. I totally have a crush on Cheetara.”
“We probably can’t afford the rights to the Thundercats.”
“Fuck. We could’ve given Dolezel the fucking Sword of Omens. Then we would’ve gotten some stuff done.”
“PERFECT! Now make me a logo.”
“A dark bear. Navy blue. Maybe a little teal.”
“Not evocative enough.”
“A dark bear in front of a dark sky. With clouds.”
“Holding a football. So we know… it’s a football team… ”
“Still not complicated enough.”
“Okay… so the crossbar on the T of ‘Thunderbears’ can be a lightning bolt.”
“Brilliant! Have the bear grab it like Damn Hell Ass Zeus, and you’ve got yourself a raise. Let’s get drunk.”
“Fine. Drunker, then.”