AFL coming to Philadelphia in 2003

By Paul Williams
September 5, 2002

Ron Jaworski is coming back to football in Philadelphia, but he is not playing with the Eagles or broadcasting for ESPN. Jaworski and business investors have a partnership to bring the Arena Football League to Philadelphia.

The new Philadelphia team will begin play in 2003, along with the rest of the AFL, after the National Football League’s season is over.

The team will play its home games in the First Union Center. There will be a campaign for the team’s name, and the team colors will be chosen later. With the AFL adding three other teams besides Philadelphia, the league will undergo a realignment of its divisions.

The differences between the NFL game and the AFL game are vast. For starters, the AFL field is 50 yards long, while the NFL field is a 100 yards long.

The expectations of the kicker in the AFL hitting a long field goal is diminished because the goal posts are set nine feet apart with a 15-foot-high cross bar. The NFL posts are 10 feet high and 18 and half feet apart. If there is a missed field goal or a kick that hits off of the nets behind the uprights, a player can play the ball off of the net.

Chris Hall, a freshman diocesan scholar who currently plays football at Archbishop Carroll, said, “The arena game is much different than the NFL because there are no sidelines. It is like hockey in a sense, because a player can be slammed into the boards that align the field.”

“Every arena football team is looking for what every NFL team looks for. An offense with a smart quarterback, and a defense that can make the offense one dimensional,” Hall said.

In the AFL, there are not as many players on the field. The only players who are not on the field during the entire game are the quarterback, the kicker, a kick returner and two defensive specialists. The other players on the field must play both offense and defense throughout the game. Every team has about 20 players in uniform for each game. There are only eight players on the field at one time for each team.

Katie Tiberio, a junior special education/elementary education student, said, “I do not see the AFL getting big in Philly. There are four main sport teams that people follow. Unless one of those leagues goes on strike, it will be hard for the team or the league to have a big following.”

Michael Toland, a junior psychology major, agrees with Tiberio.

“I think the arena team will probably be grouped with teams like the Philadelphia Wings and the Charge. An arena team will not get the same attention as other teams in the area,” Toland said. “People will want to see them live at the First Union Center, but they will not draw big ratings from the Philadelphia television audience.”

The AFL will be forming a partnership with NBC, and it hopes this will give the sport the exposure it needs to succeed, according to

NBC has been trying to compensate for losing their broadcasting deal with NFL. NBC first tried to substitute their loss of the NFL with taking a risk on the XFL. Now NBC has lost its rights to future broadcasting with the NBA and is taking another chance on the AFL.

In addition to the AFL being shown on NBC, longtime AFL broadcasting partner TNN will also show about seven games this season.

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Paul Williams

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