Better Know a Team: Defunct Edition, Part VII: Will This Never End?

8 06 2007

First of all: continue to VOTE FOR ME. Also, vote for J Fizzle. But he’s romping, so vote for me more. A vote for It’s Still Football is a vote for football with strange rules. Or, if you prefer: freedom. You like freedom, don’t you?

No? Commie.

But I digress: it’s high time for another installment of Better Know a Team, in which I tell you about Arena Football teams that no longer exist by mining their Wikipedia entries. I shall do my level best to make with the funny, and finish up by mocking their logos. Graphic designers crumble beneath my wit. Logos are graded 1-10 with 1 being swanky and 10 being obscene.

I’m using this (because it has a lot of pretty colors) to structure this series.

Today: the last three remarkable failures before we eventually get to teams that are vying for the playoffs.

Also introduced in 1997  were the New Jersey Red Dogs/Las Vegas Gladiators and Nashville Kats (Mark I)/Georgia Force, but they’re still extant, so we skip directly to:

New York CityHawks (1997-98)/New England Sea Wolves (1999-2000)/Toronto Phantoms (2001-02):

All you really need to know is that the CityHawks (Hey, kids! Remove the space between your words – It’sEdgier!) were run out of town by the New York Liberty. Yes, a WNBA team was the downfall of an Arena League team. They were put into New York in response by Madison Square Garden ownership to the AFL granting a franchise to New Jersey. Once they were granted a franchise, they decided to completely ignore the team. They spent all of their marketing money on the Liberty, who were introduced the same year. This little tidbit (from Wikipedia, of course) also makes me giggle uncomfortably:

On one occasion, then-Garden President Dave Checketts appeared as a guest on all-sports radio station WFAN, and he attempted to turn the conversation (which had been about the NBA’s New York Knicks, which also were owned by the Garden’s owners) towards the subject of the CityHawks. Upon hearing this suggestion, hosts Mike Francesa and Chris Russo laughed openly at Checketts, and refused to let him continue speaking about the CityHawks. The hosts did not stop their on-air mockery until Checketts returned to the subject of the Knicks.

Oh, on-air mockery, under whose weight no man can stand un-stooped… Anyway, thus passeth the New York CityHawks. (Named for the peregrine falcons which are, apparently, native to New York City.) The Garden ownership decided to stuff them in the Hartford Civic Center – side note: I desperately want a Whalers jersey – and rename them the Wolf Pack. The fact that they made the playoffs the second year wasn’t enough to make the good citizens of Hartford go watch Arena Football League games, and they were sold to owners out of Toronto. Toronto apparently didn’t have the available attention to split from hockey, basketball, baseball, lacrosse (really!), curling, and elk-husbandry (not really!), and though they won their division in 2001, they folded in 2002.

  • You May Think You’ve Heard Of: Ty Law. But it’s not the Ty Law you’re thinking of.
  • You May Have Actually Heard Of: Damian Harrell, whose 6-zillion game TD reception streak was broken this past weekend or Chad Salisbury, who was put on injured reserve by the Rampage this weekend to make way for Adrian McPherson. Mascots everywhere exaggeratedly rub their gigantic chins in anticipation of how they can torment McPherson anew. This has been your Adrian McPherson news for the day. 
  • Logos: I would cheerfully marry at least two out of the three logos. The CityHawks logo is something to aspire to, young graphic designers! The falcon is menacing, they hid the skyline in both the neck of the falcon AND in the letter C! It’s like hiding the 11 in the Big Ten logo, of which I am a huge fan. I may be the only one, but that’s fine. Also: it’s purple, and I like purple. UniWatch hates purple, but UniWatch isn’t here. Ooh! They’re also the only team that I can think of that had separate home and away helmet shells, and the falcon looks great on both. Speaking of purple, the Sea Wolves also use purple and silver classily. Using the wolf head as the O is kind of chachi, but they’re also using Sea Wolves in the submarine wolfpack sense. I love submarines, and I’m sure that says something about me psychologically, but it takes “Sea Wolves” from “huh?” to “a-ha!” At least in terms of naming and logos, the NY/NE ownership got this right. The franchise went for the sweep with the Phantoms, and came up a bit short. It looks like they wanted to be the Toronto Dementors, but couldn’t get the cross-promotion rights they wanted. This thing’s on the front of the helmets, and, presumably on the front of their sedans. I have no idea what they’re doing, and the overall effect is more “Spooooooky,” rather than any variety of intimidation. Sorry, Toronto, you just look silly. CityHawks: 1/10, Sea Wolves 2/10, Dementors 5/10.

The Grand Rapids Rampage entered the league in 1998, and are still around, as are the Columbus Destroyers who were originally the Buffalo Destroyers when they were given a franhise in 1999. The Los Angeles Avengers joined the league in 2000, as did the…

Carolina Cobras (2000-04):

Sooooo… the only thing notable about the Cobras seems to be that they cleverly named themselves after their state, so it didn’t matter when they moved from Raleigh to Charlotte for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. In fact, I don’t think their fans even noticed. They averaged 6,836 people accidentally ending up in the Charlotte Coliseum in their two years there, when other franchises were pulling in over 10K. They also managed the no-win season in 2003 after making it to the second round of the playoffs in 2002. Yeesh. They should’ve moved to Charleston, because they still could’ve avoided changing their name. And then moved to Mpumalanga. And then executed women accused of witchcraft under medieval German law. Isn’t Wikipedia great?

  • You May Have Heard Of: Hey, Matt Nagy! I strikingly overestimated you in our mock AFL draft! Also, Rod Bironas, he of the 60-yard field goals for the Tennesee Titans was a Cobra. Chris Berman gave him a nickname, and I won’t repeat it. But you can guess in the comments, if you like.
  • Logo: CobraaaaaaLALALALALALA! It actually looks like this, but I really think they should’ve cashed in on the G.I. Joe nostalgia. Come to think of it, the L.A. Cobras could’ve too, and didn’t. I just checked to make sure I didn’t already write this paragraph. Hooray. Anyway, the logo is pretty intimidating, and looks vaguely badass on a helmet. So, hooray for not wussifying your logo, Carolina. Too bad your team couldn’t hang on. 2.5/10

2001 saw the introduction of the Chicago Rush. Yay! Also, banking on Michigan’s nostalgia for the Detroit Drive, William Clay Ford, Jr. introduced the

Detroit Fury (2001-04):

Unfortunately, unlike the Drive, nothing at all distinguished the Fury. For some reason, in the intervening years, the Curse of Ilitch still lingered over the Arena franchise in Detroit. Where the Drive drew an average of 14,000 to the Joe Louis Arena in the early 90’s, the Fury struggled to draw 9,000 at the Palace at Auburn Hills. What does this imply? I have no idea. The appetite for the AFL has felt a resurgence in the early oughts, but Detroit apparently couldn’t muster any sort of desire to see men throw footballs around indoors. Perhaps it’s because the Ford family’s other football team began to be so unequivocally wretched that all parties threw their hands up in disgust in 2004.

  • You May Have Heard Of: DT R-Kal Truluk. Okay, probably not, but you can see why his name jumped out at me. He was named rookie of the year in 2001, bounced around the NFL from 2002-2005 and currently plays in Montreal for the Alouettes. I can’t let the last sentence of his Wikipedia entry go by without comment, though: 

“Let’s not forget that when he was at [D-III SUNY] Cortland, he used to wear the tightest shirts anyone has ever seen. He was, however, the nicest guy you’d ever want to hang out with and he always has your back.” 

A ringing endorsement for Mr. Trukluk! Truluk! Whatever! I don’t care if the reanimated corpse of Theodore Roosevelt played halfback for the Fury, it’s not going to top that. Unless TR wore tighter shirts than anyone had ever seen. Japan’s top textile scientists are working on shirts that are tighter than Mr. Truluk’s, but as yet have not been able to create one stable enough to be recorded.

  • Logo: Oh, who even cares? I’m exhausted from my discovery of R’s Wikipedia page. But here, because we’re at the end: the Fury’s entirely uninspiring logo. While it’s really difficult to convey an emotion as a tangible object, just going “AAAHHGHGHAHAF! SCRIBBLES! SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW!” is kind of a cop out. Also, I’m not entirely sure the pitch of “Detroit” matches the pitch of “Fury,” and it’s really making my eyes cross. ARHRAHR AGHDF! FURY! It’s kind of like flames, but not! 6/10.

Well, that’s that. All that’s left to explain are the teams that are currently playing in the league. We’ll get to that as the playoffs start to take shape. Oh, and vote again. I’m sure the server’s reset by now.

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