Fools Rush Out: Time For Kurz, Rush To Go
It was on May 7th, 2012 that Arena Football League Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz received unanimous approval for a five-year contract extension that would keep him on the job through nearly the end of the decade. It is on May 7th, 2013 that he should step down from his post and let someone else try to direct this league back on the path of success.
We could sit here and talk all day about what is wrong with the Arena Football League. Player turnover is insanely high. Attendance is insanely low. Markets that once thrived are simply shriveling away and dying.
It's not great.
It's not wonderful.
It's not outstanding.
What the Arena Football League has become is downright pathetic.
What happened at Allstate Arena on Saturday was nothing short of an embarrassment, and that certainly isn't a strong enough word to describe it. I could list off the details of all of the problems with the game in the Windy City, but I suggest that you take a gander at the most recent work of my colleague, Jeff Sims, who detailed the events of the "Sideshow in Chicago."
More unsettling than the fact that the game essentially had no coverage is the fact that the league has had to assume control of the Chicago Rush franchise for the third time in the last 12 months. The other AFL owners footed the bill for the Rush franchise last season, and it seemed as though salvation would be had in the form of Julee B. White, who bought the team from the league. Three months later, she failed to secure the financial partners to meet league requirements, and she was removed by the league.
Just weeks before the start of the season, ownership changed hands once again, as David Staral Jr. bought the team. To Staral's credit, he did manage to get the team running this year, and in spite of the fact that Allstate Arena hadn't even been procured just a month prior to the start of the season, the Rush have at least been able to play a few home games, though if you add up the size of their four announced crowds this year, you only just barely have the amount of fans that attended the average Rush game in 2008.
However, there are just a few little things here about David Staral Jr. that perhaps Commissioner Kurz and the league should have known ahead of time. There's the matter of the 60 creditors that have been named accounting for $1.5M in debt that was claimed in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. There's the matter of the benefits fraud in 2005. There's the Lawsuit versus his neighbor. There's the matter of embezzlement. Oh, and there's the matter of the second case of embezzlement. I could go on and on, but the Chicago Sun Times did a good enough job of listing off all of the problems that this guy has had.
It's called a background check, Jerry. I ran one on the guys who are renting my townhouse. You should've run one on a guy who is going to own 1/14 of your league.
For all of the rest of the flaws that the AFL has run into over the course of the last three seasons under the rule of Commissioner Kurz, this is by far the biggest black eye of them all. It is clear that the rest of the owners across the AFL didn't want to hold up this failing franchise in the Windy City, but the league didn't want to lose the team in the city where it had its headquarters for the second time in the last three years. Kurz simply had to do anything to get an owner into the mess that was the Chicago Rush, and apparently, he did it, literally by hook AND by crook.
I hate to say this, but it's time to take some drastic measures in the AFL. It's time to cease the Chicago Rush. I don't mean at the end of the season. I mean right this very second.
I know that it's only Week 8, and I know that this team has the same number of wins as the Pittsburgh Power, Orlando Predators, Cleveland Gladiators, and New Orleans VooDoo combined, but the team needs to be folded and folded right now. It is clear that the Rush are nothing but a money pit for the league, and the only people that are going to be footing the bill for it are the other owners of the league. It's not fair to the Rush, but it's more not fair to the other owners.
And I'm sorry, but if we lose a franchise, we should be losing our commissioner as well. There is zero excuse for this. If you can't find a competent owner in Chicago, the third most populated city in America, to own an AFL team, you shouldn't have a franchise there. And if you're going to bull that franchise into existence just for the sake of it existing, when it fails, you should be taking the fall for it as well. Somehow, I don't think that the losses for the league are coming out of Commissioner Kurz's pocket, and he is still traveling to every game CBS Sports Network game to get his face on TV, and he is probably staying in some of the most elaborate hotels on the league's dime as well to do it. It's not fair, and it has to change.
A number of people across the Arena Football League that I am close to have said the same thing to me. This is a sinking ship. We're taking on water faster than we can throw it out the back of the boat. The Chicago Rush are wearing us down, but Commissioner Kurz is doing nothing but putting more holes in the bottom of the vessel.
Though I do recognize and appreciate the fact that Jerry Kurz is the man who essentially helped save the Arena Football League in 2010, he is the man that is killing it now. Before this gets any worse and the eye on the league gets any blacker, it's time to cut bait with the problems to try to salvage any credibility that the league as a whole might have left.