AFL, Rush building momentum during 2010 season

By JeffGraveline

As the Arena Football League began its latest season April 2, the newest generation of AFL players, teams and owners took the field for the newly revamped league.

Arena football is played in an indoor arena on a field that is 50 yards long and more than 28 yards wide, with 8 yard

end zones.

There are eight players on the field at a time, including three down linemen. On offense, the remaining five players are the quarterback, offensive specialist and three wide receivers.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are two defensive specialists, two linebackers and a safety.

While the rules remain the same as the league returns from its yearlong break, the teams and players that

comprise the AFL have changed.

Following the 2008 season, the league announced that the AFL would suspend play for all teams in the league in 2009.

The AFL was hemorraging money and a new financial model needed to be implemented if the league was to return for the 2010 season or beyond.

“Nothing was wrong with the game or with the sport,” said Arena Football League commissioner Jerry Kurz. “What was challenging was the economic business model that was in place before [2010]. I don’t think it was any different than many of the other businesses across the country. Things had to be adjusted to be able to stay in business.”

Under the direction of Commissioner Kurz and a new group of investors and owners, the AFL has come back from the brink of extinction with a new outlook and the support of a fan base that wouldn’t let the league go under without a fight.

“Fans feel ownership of our game,” Kurz said. “That’s what really got our owners to [bring back the league], when they saw the interest and, really, some people almost being depressed that they couldn’t get their arena football fix.”

The new business plan for the AFL includes a television deal with the NFL network, which calls for the network to broadcast AFL games Friday nights until the end of the regular season, July 31, and  will continue throughout the playoffs.

“When you think of football, you think of the NFL,” Kurz said. “To have been able to form a broadcast partnership with the NFL Network, I couldn’t imagine anything better…That’s 55 million homes that are football fanatics.”

The deal also states the network will promote the league on the channel. While there were concerns of being overshadowed by the NFL, Kurz said that they were unfounded.

“All of those concerns that people told us we should have, they haven’t been there,” said Kurz. “The only time we haven’t had a game on Friday night was during the [NFL] draft and we knew about that before hand.”

Several franchises that were part of the AFL, including the Philadelphia Soul and Colorado Crush, are gone, while some franchises from AF2 (Arena Football 2, the AFL’s feeder league) have moved up to play in the AFL.

The Chicago Rush, the 2006 AFL champions,returned to the field at the Allstate Arena ready to rebuild the franchise from the ground up.

The Rush features only four players with at least two years of AFL experience on the 27-man roster, while 18 players are in their first tour of duty in the league.

“I didn’t know what type of player we would be able to attract and I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” said Rush head coach Mike Hohensee. “I’m having a great time and this group of players prepare as hard and as diligently as any group I’ve had so far.”

The youth of the Rush’s roster hasn’t slowed down the team, as they have piled up a 4-0 record as of press time.

“We basically have an expansion team,” Hohensee said. “We’ve had to come together very quickly, but the few veterans that we were able to bring back have done a great job of leading these guys and showing them the things they need to do.”

While the Rush look to continue rolling through the AFL season, Hohensee said he hopes fans spread the news that “the

Rush are back.”

As for the rest of the season, Hohensee said the expectations should be tempered.

“I don’t know how good we could get yet,” he said. “But I know we’ve done a good job up to this point, but we still have a lot of football left to play.”

For more information about the Arena Football League, visit For more information about the Chicago Rush, including ticket information, game dates and player information, visit