Are There Pro Football Alternatives To The NFL?

As a New York Jets fan I really do not follow any pother football team.  They have been my life since I was a kid.  I root for the Giants when the Jets have not made the playoffs and the University of Michigan Wolverines a few years before Tyrone Wheatley was a running back there.  I wanted to go to Michigan but that was a path not taken.  I have been trying to figure out what other football alternatives there are out there for those in the New York area.  I know there is college football.  Many seem to like that, especially if you are an alumni of a certain college or university.  But I am talking about football at the professional or semi pro level.

When I was at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, they had a whole room dedicated to those leagues that popped up to compete against the NFL.  A whole room of failed football organizations and the teams that payed in them.  I am sure Vince McMahon of the WWE does not want to be associated with the failed XFL, or mentioned in the same sentence.  The was the AFL, USFL, XFL, World League, NFL Eirpoe, AAFL, and countless others.  That is only counting outdoor leagues, not indoor football.  We had the AFL, AF2, IFL, AIFA, CIFL, AIFL, IFA, and many regional indoor leagues.  Some teams switch leagues to get better exposure.  Who can keep track of them all.

In the New York Metropolitan area there aren’t many other teams outside the New York Jets or Giants.  There were the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, New Jersey Generals, New York Dragons, New York/New Jersey Knights, New York Stallions, New York Stars, and others that have folded over time.  Besides the Jets and Giants, there are a few that are out there now & recently folded that many may not know about.  They cover both indoor and outdoor football.

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The New Jersey Revolution were members of the American Indoor Football Association and ceased operations after completing their first season in the AIFA. They existed from 2005-2010.  The team was based in Morristown, New Jersey, played their home games at the George Mennen arena and was sponsored by the U.S. Army. The Revs ticket price was $10 a game.  In 2006 they played for the Great Lakes Indoor Football League.  2007-2009 they played in the Continental Indoor Football League.

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In their first (and only) AIFA season, the NJ Revolution were an absolute disaster going 0-14 on the season. They lost 6 home games at the George Mennen Arena, all 7 road games and one neutral site game played June 12, 2010 at the Sun National Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ where for some reason they were considered the road team losing to the Harrisburg Stampede 96-44. Harrisburg was stopped on the goal line looking to break the 100 point mark as time mercifully expired. This neutral site game was announced originally as an exhibition contest but for unexplained reasons is listed in the final overall AIFA league stats on the AIFA official website.

The purpose of this game was to announce that in 2011 the Trenton Steel would be joining the AIFA. It was announced that the Trenton Steel ownership group which includes Rich Lisk, former General Manager of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League had purchased the AIFA rights for the entire State of New Jersey. Revolution Owner and General Manager Rob Testor vehemently denied at this June 12, 2010 neutral site game that the Revolution would be forced to move out of New Jersey or cease operations.

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The New Jersey Revolution issued this press release on September 8, 2010:

The NJ Revolution was founded in October of 2005. A franchise that has lasted through all the harsh economic times has decided to change its focus and direction. After enjoying 5 years as a professional arena/indoor football team from 2006 until 2010 and playing in numerous top level venues on the east coast and mid west, the franchise and parent company have decided to take the next few years to concentrate on building a national sports venture with a much broader scope and outreach. It’s time for the company to build on a bigger and brighter future. The Revs, as the fans have named them, brought affordable family fun to the community while interacting with many local and state wide charities and youth groups. The company often donated game tickets, their time and also made numerous monetary donations to charitable organizations. In the coming years, we hope to extend our sphere of positive influence to a greater area and audience. In the meanwhile, the company wishes to thank all those who supported them and were a part of the Revolution family.

The Hartford Colonials are a professional team based in Hartford, Connecticut that plays in the United Football League. The Colonials play their home games in Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The team began as the New York Sentinels for the 2009 season, playing home games in three different New York-area stadiums, including Rentschler Field. Chris Palmer is the current head coach and general manager, after the Sentinels fired head coach Ted Cottrell following an 0–6 season in 2009.
The team began play as the New York Sentinels in October 2009, with home games split between Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, New York, and Rentschler Field (one home game in each venue). The league had planned to play at least one game in New York City proper (at Citi Field), but this never materialized, and the proposed game was moved to Shuart Stadium.

In February 2010, the team moved to Hartford, Connecticut for the 2010 season, a move initially opposed by team owner Bill Mayer. Through an online vote, fans were asked to select one of four names (Hartford Knights, Hartford Guardians, Hartford Travelers or Connecticut Yankees) to become the new team name, or to suggest a name not listed. The new name was announced as being the Hartford Colonials on March 14, 2010. “Colonials” was not one of the four names voters could choose from, but was said to become an “overwhelming favorite” among the fan suggested names.

Northland AEG, L.L.C., the operators of Rentschler Field, purchased a stake in the franchise upon the team’s arrival in Hartford, though exactly what size share the company owns is unknown.

I have already been to the New Jersey Revolution games and they were fun.  Lot of stories there for another time.  But with indoor football there is no tailgating, one thing I missed.  I may have to write an article about my experience with them alone.  Not to mention some of the stories I heard from the players.  I will be attending my first UFL game this Saturday as the Hartford Colonials take on the Omaha Nighthawks.  I can not wait to see how the fans tailgate and what they think of the UFL.  It will add an interesting perspective to the documentary and how football fans look for other ways to find that football alternative.

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