Obscure Leagues: Fan Controlled Football League

Johnny Manziel is playing professional football again.

Say what?

This news caught my eye over the weekend.

Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M basically fell off of the football map after stints in the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Alliance of American Football.

He is now playing again in the Fan Controlled Football League.

The Fan Controlled what?

The Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL) is an indoor professional football league which was created in 2017 and the first sports league controlled by fans. It’s like a live version of a video game. The league’s first season began this month with all four teams playing their games over six weeks at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia to limit COVID-19 issues.

This concept began by an organization called “Project Franchise” created a fan-controlled team named the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League in 2017. A mobile app was created with a subscription service for fans to call plays during a live game. The experiment worked although the team finished 5-11.

So how does this really work?

Games are televised on the gaming network Twitch. There is real time play calling where fans have the option to run or pass when their team is on offense. When the option is pick, play options are selected and voted on. The top vote winner will be the play that is used.

Games are played indoors with seven players on each team. There is no kicking, punts or special teams. Teams start at their own 10-yard line and drive 40 yards for a score. Extra points are a one-on-one battle between a wide receiver and defensive back.

It’s definitely different.

In addition to Johnny Manziel, other recognizable names are invested in the league. Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson and Richard Sherman are owners in the four-team league. The teams are definitely like video game teams with the names Zappers, Wild Aces, Beasts and Glacier Boyz.

For more information about the league, visit https://www.fcf.io/

Manziel rushed for a touchdown for his Zappers’ team but lost to the Beast 48-44 in the season opener.

Johnny Manziel returns to professional football

Obscure Leagues: Major Arena Soccer League

I have always enjoyed watching indoor soccer.  Actually, I have to admit, it was always more interesting than outdoor soccer. For me, it was a lot like the human version of Foosball.  The first professional indoor league was the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) which played from 1978-1992. Today’s version of indoor soccer is the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) which traces it roots to the former MISL but was formed when the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) merged with another MISL league in 2014.

If you’ve never heard of “arena” or “indoor” soccer, it is basically soccer played on a hockey rink on artificial turf instead of ice. Games are higher scoring than in outdoor soccer with scores of 5-3, 8-4 or 7-5 more common in the indoor game. There is also no offsides in the indoor version.

The MASL currently plays in 17 cities across the United States and Mexico.  The teams are:

  • Baltimore Blast
  • Dallas Sidekicks
  • Florida Tropics (Lakeland)
  • Harrisburg Heat
  • Kansas City Comets
  • Mesquite Outlaws
  • Milwaukee Wave
  • Monterrey Flash
  • Ontario (California) Fury
  • Orlando SeaWolves
  • Rochester Lancers
  • St. Louis Ambush
  • San Diego Sockers
  • Sonora Suns
  • Tacoma Stars
  • Turlock (California) Express
  • Utica City FC

Baltimore, Dallas, San Diego and Tacoma had franchises in the original MISL.  

The San Diego Sockers have won four titles while the Baltimore Blast have won three.  

The MASL is an obscure sports league and rarely gets any press or television coverage outside of their local markets. The league does offer viewing of games through their pay-per-view package available on their website. You can find that and more details on the league at www.maslsoccer.com 

Due to COVID issues, six teams opted out of playing in the current season.  The Florida Tropics are presently sitting in first place at 5-0.

Ian Bennett of the Florida Tropics is the league’s leading scorer with nine goals. Not surprisingly, Florida also has the league’s best goalkeeper – Hugo Silva with five wins and a goals against average of 3.34.

MASL teams that have chosen to participate in the 2020-2021 season have committed to playing 12-24 games in the regular season which will run through April 18th followed by the post-season.  

Rambo Leads Whipsnakes to Lacrosse Title

Rambo

Matt Rambo scores goal in overtime to give Whipsnakes PLL title

Yep, you read that right.  It’s not another new Rambo movie but another man named Rambo who was the hero on the lacrosse field on Sunday in the Premier Lacrosse League’s championship game.

Never heard of the Premier Lacrosse League?  Not many people have outside of the lacrosse community.  It was just barely on my radar.

The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is a professional lacrosse league with a goal of going big to make lacrosse a major league sport by providing lacrosse players with salaries, health care and league stability.  The PLL played its first season with six teams (Archers, Atlas, Chaos, Chrome, Redwoods and Whipsnakes) which played on a tour in 12 different cities.  The league is direct competition to Major League Lacrosse (MLL) which has had difficulty in growing the sport.  The PLL also had a television agreement with NBC.

In the PLL’s championship game televised on NBC from Philadelphia, the Whipsnakes’ Matt Rambo scored the tying goal to force overtime with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, then buried a championship-clinching shot 28 seconds into the extra frame to claim the Premier Lacrosse League’s first championship, a 12-11 triumph over Redwoods.

Rambo, who notched three goals and three assists, earned championship game MVP honors two days after winning the league’s regular-season MVP award.

The late rally saved the Whips from a potential collapse. Jim Stagnitta’s crew was up 9-2 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Redwoods turned things around quickly with a late spurt in the third frame. Jack Near, Ryder Garnsey and Sergio Perkovic scored in the final three minutes, with Perkovic’s goal coming from 2-point range, to cut the deficit to 9-6 going into the fourth quarter.

That was the start of a 9-1 run for Redwoods, capped off by goal by Joe Walters with 1:36 remaining to give the team its first lead of the game since going up 1-0.

That set up the first of Rambo’s heroic actions which came out of a Whipsnakes timeout with 30 seconds remaining. He took a pass from Drew Snider and found space right down the middle to run in and equalize.

Watch the highlights by clicking here.

 

SW Florida To Debut New Arena League

ALeagueA new arena “football” league is set to begin play in four Southwest Florida cities in 2019.  I put the word “football” in quotes because one of the unique rules will be no kicking.  No punts, field goals or extra points will be allowed.  The league has been organized by the ownership group of the Lakeland Tarpons.  Other teams will include the Sarasota BigCats, Gulf Coast Fire (Ft. Myers) and Manatee Neptunes (Bradenton).

The Tarpons have bounced around several leagues since they were an expansion team in the Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) in 2012.  They moved to Arena Indoor Football (AIF) in 2016 and then Arena Pro Football (APF) in 2017.  They played this past season in the American Arena League (AAL).

tarpons

Lakeland Tarpons will have a league of their own in 2019

The A-League will feature several unique innovations.   There will also be new rules designed to speed up game play and enhance the fan experience. Teams will only carry 16-man rosters, which must include at least two players who play both offensive and defense. Dubbed “The Deuce”, these two way players must play all 60 minutes on both sides of the ball.

There will also be no kicking in the game. The elimination of the kicking game dramatically improves the pace of the game and eliminates many dead ball fouls and timeouts. Teams will scrimmage from their own five-yard line, or if turned over on downs, will scrimmage from that spot.

A totally unique element of the A-League is the scheduled double header game concept. All four teams will host a regular-season doubleheader where all teams will play in the same arena in back-to-back games.

The A-League season will run from May to the end of July, 2019. All teams are owned and operated by A-League Sports with teams located in a tight footprint of local Florida markets including, Lakeland, FT Myers, Sarasota and Bradenton. Plans are in place for the addition of two to four new teams for the 2020 season. Each team will play an eight-game regular season with four home games in each team’s home venue.

The A-League is developing partnerships with regional semi-pro teams to develop talent for their rosters.

The A-League will join the Arena Football League (AFL), Indoor Football League (IFL), Champions Indoor Football (CIF), American Arena League (AAL), National Arena League (NAL) and National Gridiron League (NGL) on the indoor turf next season.

For more information on the A-League you can click here.