Welcome everybody to the inaugural game tonight of the Pittsburgh Power, the Arena Football League team here in the ‘burgh.
Folks, i must tell you that this is condensed football, micro-waved and packaged to provide the fans with a close-up real time look at professional football with all the thrills, chills and spills of a true gladiator spectacle.
No, this is not the NFL to be sure, but in attending practices of the Power, i’ve found the players, coaches and front office people to be every bit as sincere and professional in their approach as those in the big-boy league.
Head Coach of the Power, Chris Siegfried, has been a winner practically everywhere he’s coached. Chris is unafraid of a challenge and he knows an inaugural season is a bumpy ride at best. He understands the indoor game and on his staff he’s joined by a guy who will be “Jones-ing” tonight, that being assisstant coach John Sikora who played at Slippery Rock and spent years playing in the trench’s of the Arena league.
The players are what i expected when i got the chance to spend some time with them. Men with a dream of continuing their goal of pro football.
Big school guys to small, all are on a journey that every young man who snaps on a chin strap sets out on. To see how far they can push their football dream.
From rough and ready offensive lineman Nick Metz to back up QB Kevin McCabe, they are sincere, dedicated athletes with a desire to “Kurt Warner” their way to more opportunities.
Visually the fans are in for a real treat. From the “High motion receiver” who hits the line of scrimmage at the snap under full power to one of the “Hogs” who also doubles as a TE and therefore could truly “bumble, stumble and rumble” his way down the field, offensive plays sometimes more resemble a Times Square magician taking your money in a shell game on a portable table than the scripted x’s and o’s i’m more familiar with.
But make no mistake about it. It is an exciting, high velocity fan-friendly game which includes a chance to meet the players on the field after the game is over.
Because the game is shoe-boxed to accomadate the dimensions of a hockey rink, trench fighting is like watching six Manny Pacquiao’s having a go in the center of a 16′ x 16’ boxing ring. Add a FB and the able-to-blitz Mac-backer into the free-for-all, and it suddenly becomes a wild west “Katy-bar the door” brawl that true Close-Quarter-Combat aficiondo’s will appreciate.
Former Cal U linebacker Gary Butler is a guy to keep your eye on here. He is a tough, hard-hitting smart guy who plays the human-crash-test dummy role of blitzing Mac -backer perfectly. Gary does a fine in-door imitation of a former teammate of mine, Jerry Olsavsky.
No, these athletes may not be ready-for-prime-time players, but in the short time i’ve been around them, this i am convinced. Don’t doubt their hearts. This is not a game for the weak of heart. Those forbidding crash walls are waiting to deliver a “heaping, helping, heavy dose of de-celeration trauma” at every turn.
It’s like watching Indoor NASCAR on thirty-two feet complete with all the “bumping and rubbing.”
Good luck fellas!