By Edward Alec Leon
While baseball is entering its second half and we wait for the start of professional basketball and football, there is another source of sports local Arizonans get to enjoy. Professional arena football has become widely popular with those fans who crave football action during the NFL off-season. Luckily for local fans, Arizona’s team is quite good.
The Arizona Rattlers were an expansion team of the Arena Football League (AFL), which started in 1992 and currently plays at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. Since its establishment, the Rattlers have won ten division championships and five league championships. It’s easy to see that this team has become something of a dynasty in the sport of arena football, making it to the playoffs 20 out of 24 seasons and winning the past three ArenaBowl Championships.
Although the AFL does not have the popularity of the National Football League, it has provided for exciting entertainment in the world of sports. It also gives athletes an alternative to the NFL which can lead to potential transfers to the big show. Some of the NFL’s most popular players have spent time in the AFL, including Rob Bironas (kicker), Jay Feely (kicker) and Kurt Warner (quarterback) who led the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII (2008-2009 season). In fact, the University of Arizona’s former head coach, Mike Stoops, played for the Pittsburgh Gladiators in the AFL’s inaugural season in 1987.
This month, the Rattlers will play their final home game against the Portland Thunder (August 8th) and have already clinched a spot in this year’s playoffs. Having earned their illustrious “three-peat,” there are few franchises who can claim the success of the Arizona Rattlers. No other team in the league has won consecutive years like the Rattlers. Hopefully the dynasty continues this fall.