Today at Arenabowl XXVI the Arizona Rattlers proved that once again they are the best team in the AFL. For the first time in 17 years an AFL team repeated as Arenabowl Champion. They actually came 4 points short of winning Arenabowl XXIV, they won last year over the Philadelphia Soul in Arenabowl XXV and once again won this year over the Soul after a hard fought battle that saw the Philly kicker miss 3 extra points and a field goal, the Rattlers fumbling the ball on the Soul 1-yard line and a 4th down stop with Philly rolling with under a minute left.
I don’t know why but I have been drawn to the Arena Football League since its inception in 1987 and an Arizona Rattlers fan since the city was awarded as an expansion team in 1992, I actually had a friend on that ’92 team. The Rattlers have the second most Arenabowl wins (4) and second most appearances (8), trailing only Tampa Bay Storm (5 and 4 respectively). The Storm is one of the four founding teams, originating as the Pittsburgh Gladiators.
Surprisingly with a sport that has a small but rampant fan base, the 14 teams averaged 8,195 fans per game this year, you would think that there would be more support from the collecting world. Upper Deck released two sets in 2005 and 2006 complete with autographs and relics but nothing new since, some teams do release individual team sets but they are unlicensed. This sport seems to be ideal for Upper Deck too, you would think that an AFL license could be had for a song and a dance, come on... this is Upper Deck, the guys who signed a deal with Major League Lacross in 2010.