Bonner retires the right way – as a Rattler
Wednesday July 23, 2014
The way Sherdrick Bonner left the Arizona Rattlers near the end of the 2007 season did not sit well with many fans. It did not seem quite right that the rock of the franchise, the team leader who had spent nearly 15 years in the desert, would not end his storied career in black, copper and teal.
Last weekend, Bonner returned to the Snake Pit to retire the right way. The Rattlers organization, continuing to show what class is all about, invited Bonner to sign a one-day contract and honored him with a ceremony prior to the Portland/Arizona clash July 20 at US Airways Center.
“Sherdrick is a major part of the Rattlers history and to see his name in the books retiring from another team just didn’t seem right,” Rattlers President Joe Windham said. “With this year being the 20th anniversary of the Rattlers' and Bonner’s first ArenaBowl championship in 1994, we felt it was perfect timing.”
Bonner was beaming as he spoke with Cox 7 Arizona about returning for Alumni Day and retiring as a Rattler.
“I was hoping to get in and throw a couple option routes,” Bonner joked. “But KG (Coach Kevin Guy
) wasn't having any of that.”
Bonner recalled the camaraderie with his teammates during his tenure in Phoenix.
“The guys I played with and practiced with each and every day – it was phenomenal to work with them,” he said. “Those were good times. We had a lot of fun.”
Rattler Nation was also loud and proud, showing they have never forgotten everything that Bonner brought to the field. The 13,120 fans on hand last weekend marked the largest Rattlers home crowd since ArenaBowl XXIV against Jacksonville in August 2011.
“These are great fans,” Bonner told Cox 7. “They've always loved arena football here.”
Bonner's accolades are numerous. Bonner spent 14 seasons with the Rattlers. The five-time All-Arena selection was named MVP of ArenaBowl VIII. In all, he led the Rattlers to five ArenaBowl appearances and won a pair of championships.
“When we defeated Orlando, on their field, it was probably the greatest feeling I’ve ever had,” Bonner said.
With 42,246 career passing yards, 855 touchdowns and 3,350 completions, Bonner ranks near the top in virtually every career passing category in AFL history. In 2010, the Rattlers retired his #13 jersey and two years later, the AFL Silver Anniversary Committee named him the top quarterback in league history. The same committee named Bonner the seventh greatest player in AFL history, regardless of position.
Bonner deservedly took his place in the AFL Hall of Fame in 2012.
Personally, one of my greatest memories of Bonner was watching in person as he battled the San Jose SaberCats
in ArenaBowl XVIII. Although the ending was not what Arizona fans had hoped for, the game was later billed as one of the greatest in league history, and Bonner fought literally until the last second.
I left America West Arena that day disappointed with the outcome but proud of the warrior Arizona had under center.
Bonner, who now offers his football expertise as a sideline reporter and color commentator on AFL television broadcasts, had nothing but superlatives to offer about the current Rattlers organization.
“It starts with a solid ownership group,” he said. “This team is great, both on the field and being out in the community. I read about it all the time and it's awesome.”
Looking to the future, current Rattlers gunslinger Nick Davila is likely to hold many of the passing records Bonner first established with the team. But Rattlers fans and those who follow the AFL will never forget what Bonner brought to the field each and every week.
Now that he is retired as a Rattler, it just feels right.
Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman
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.