By Troy A. Sparks–[email protected]
Until NFL training camp begins in July, arena football will do around here. The two arena football teams in Milwaukee are now one.
And this one is still standing.
I never watched arena football that much on TV. Then when the Bonecrushers began their inaugural season two years ago, the seven-year void left by the Milwaukee Mustangs’ arena team that folded fed the hungry souls that missed arena football.
Gilbert Brown came to town and brought the fans in. Then two bombshells dropped on the Bonecrushers: The Milwaukee Iron announced their plans to form a team in 2009. Management meddled with the coaching philosophy and playbook. Brown quit after two games, and the Bonecrushers were doomed.
Both teams played home games in Milwaukee last year, although it was a big difference in attendance. The Iron averaged over 3,000 for their games at the Bradley Center and the Bonecrushers barely drew 500 at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Bonecrushers folded.
Last year, the Iron played in the Arena2 league. Arena1 took a break in 2009 because they had no money to operate. Then the Iron was one of 15 teams chosen as a member of a restructured Arena1 Football League.
As a result, Milwaukee has better players than last year, plus they’re winning.
With 15 rookies on their 23-man roster, the Iron is on a mission to make the playoffs. Eight teams from both divisions make the postseason.
So as I looked at their roster, there’s a 10-year veteran on the team. Damian Harrell is actually the ninth receiver in professional football history to catch at least 1,000 career passes, all in the AFL. That puts him in the company of Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Chris Carter and Tim Brown. I guess they consider the AFL as a professional league.
Can Milwaukee really guarantee their fans a playoff appearance? The Brewers can’t make that promise. Maybe general manager Doug Melvin will promise that manager Ken Macha will be fired before July if the Crew’s ship sinks. But we’ll save that talk for another week.
Good thing the Iron has a kick-butt coach like Bob Landsee, who has AFL coaching experience. He was the Green Bay Blizzard’s coach for the last four years.
Last Friday, the orange and black were fired up for their archrivals and league leading Chicago Rush. The Rush entered the game with a 4-0 record and the Iron was 3-1.
What was supposed to be pure domination by the Rush didn’t materialize. Milwaukee beat the crappola out of Chicago, 71-48.
“I was astonished,” Landsee, a former all Big Ten offensive lineman at Wisconsin said of the blowout. “I thought that we couldn’t do it, but anytime that does happen . . .
“Let’s be honest. If you look back in the season or as a coach, you look back a long time. It’s not something that happens often.”
The Rush won’t forget the butt-whupping here when they meet again on June 19 in Chicago. So far, the Iron owns the tiebreaker, but they’re far from being a playoff team. According to Landsee, the team must maintain their focus and intensity.
“You look past somebody, or you don’t get that same killer instinct in your eye,” he said, “no matter who you play, you better have the same mentality, the same focus, the same game plan and execute the same attitude. When you do that, you’re very successful.”
So when or if the Brewers go down the tubes, you can come to the five remaining home games to watch some fast-paced indoor football. The last home game is July 17. Their 16-game regular season ends on July 31. The transition from the end of indoor to the beginning of outdoor football will be easy.
Update on Montaous Walton
Late last year, I wrote a feature story on Milwaukee professional baseball hopeful Montaous Walton. Last week, Walton brought me up to speed through a text message. He’s currently in the Minnesota Twins minor league system. As of now, he said, the next assignment is New Britain, Connecticut. That’s the Twins’ AA affiliate. Walton is scheduled to report there this week.
Walton said he remained in Fort Myers, FL for extended spring training. While there, he stole 15 bases and batted .311 with 11 RBI.
When I contacted the Rockcats’ media department last weekend, they had no information of Walton reporting to New Britain, at least not yet. Maybe there’s communication breakdown between the parties.
Actually, you would think the media relations department of a team would have information way ahead of time. Wait about two weeks before checking to see if he’s on New Britain’s roster. Look under Twins.com and find their AA affiliate team.