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ArenaBowl Recap and Rumor Mill

Mick Cornett
Tuesday August 21, 2001

The Arena Football League put on a tremendous show for its 15th title game. Arena Bowl XV was a sold-out celebration in Western Michigan as the Grand Rapids Rampage finished off its incredible 2001 season with a victory over Nashville.

It is still a quarterback`s league and Clint Dolezel proved he was the difference as he led the Rampage offense down the field again and again. Despite Dolezel`s play, offensive specialist Terrill Shaw was rightfully named MVP with a five-touchdown performance. Rampage defensive back JoJo Polk made the play of the game when he picked off a pass by Andy Kelly that seemed destined for a Kats touchdown. It was a game-changing play.

The victory must have been sweet for head coach Michael Trigg, Rampage owner Dan DeVos and the D.P. Fox management group. One of the premier ownership groups in the league, they put together a remarkable team in 2001 and proved to be excellent hosts for the title game.

Rumor Mill

The weekend in Western Michigan was ripe with revelations and rumor. As for franchise information, it now appears the league will expand from 19 teams to 20 for 2002 with Dallas being the lone addition. The Houston franchise figures to relocate for 2002 and Kansas City seems a likely target although nothing is official.

Looking ahead, it might make sense for Dallas to replace Houston in the Western Division. That would allow Oklahoma to play Dallas twice during the regular season, creating a natural rivalry. That could, however, create additional divisional problems. The Southern Division is the only division with four teams (instead of five) and Kansas City (if that`s where the Houston franchise lands) would not be a natural fit. Geographically, it would make more sense to have Dallas in the South.

Originally, New Orleans was slated as an expansion team for 2002 but now it appears they will not join the league until 2003, the same year Washington D.C. and Denver are scheduled to start fielding a team. All three will be at least partially owned by the NFL franchise in their city. John Elway will be part of the Denver group. He attended the Arena Bowl in Grand Rapids.

For long-time AFL fans, there was shocking news from Florida. Orlando head coach Jay Gruden announced he is resigning as head coach and instead will play quarterback next season. In the 1990`s Gruden led Tampa Bay to four AFL titles. Gruden has not played since 1996, the year he threw 70 touchdowns and out-dueled Kurt Warner in Arena Bowl X.

Mick Cornett was a writer for ArenaFan Online from 2000 to 2001.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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