Game Saturday a Sidebar to the Sideshow in Chicago
The concerns revolving around the ownership of the Chicago Rush have certainly been no secret this season.
The team was purchased during the off-season from the Arena Football League. To put it in a very simple statement, the new owner did not meet the requirements of the league and the relationship was broken and it was uncertain as to whether a team would take the field for the season.
After getting another new owner in place a few weeks prior to the start of the season, all appeared fine for the first six weeks of the 2013 campaign for the Rush. They started 0 –2 and then swept the month of April with a perfect 4 – 0 record holding a two game lead in their division.
Obviously the ownership issues have not gone away, culminating this past week, and the positive momentum that the team and organization had so far this season took a sharp turn in the wrong direction.
On Saturday night, the Rush were originally slated to host the Philadelphia Soul in the NET10 Wireless Game of the Week on the CBS Sports Network.
Back on April 9th, it was announced that the game would be “flexed out” and CBS Sports Network would instead air the New Orleans VooDoo versus the Tampa Bay Storm game from Tampa Bay. This decision made the Rush the only team in the league not to have a home game aired on the network this season.
Initial response from the league was that the decision was made due to attendance concerns after the first two Rush home games where they drew 6,026 and 3,106 fans respectively (Note: the second game was played on Easter Sunday as scheduled by the league). Other games on the network had similar attendance figures up to that point.
Early this week, there was a statement made to a fan during a conversation by a cheerleader that she had not yet been paid through the first three home games.
It was rumored this week (there has been no formal confirmation) that the check given to the Allstate Arena for the last home game on April 14th bounced and had not been made up.
It has also been rumored (once again not confirmed) that as of this past Wednesday, the league has once again resumed ownership of the team for the remainder of the season.
Signs pointed in the direction of these rumors being true on Saturday as the Rush took on the Soul at Allstate Arena with very limited amenities. Doom and gloom appeared to be surrounding both the team and the front office personnel as game time approached.
There were no video cameras in the arena at all. This did not allow the game to be seen on the Arena Football League website. The only access any fan would have had to the game would have been to listen to the broadcast on the team website.
The main video scoreboard in the arena was lifted to the ceiling and not in use, not allowing video replays or advertisements.
There was no replay system set up. Teams would not have the ability to challenge any calls made by the officiating crew.
There was no internet access for the media in the press box. There was limited access in the media room for anyone needing to submit a story to meet their deadline.
Pregame festivities were only limited to certain lighting and introductions. The large inflatable helmet and pyrotechnics that are the norm were nowhere to be seen.
There was no referee microphone in place. The PA announcer relayed all calls made by the officials.
Rush team personnel would not confirm any of the rumors and called the problems within the arena “technical difficulties”.
With the entire goings on, the team still took the field and in no way looked like the focused team it had been for the previous four weeks as they were handled easily by the Soul 72 – 41.
“It is not easy to have to worry about things like this and also go out and play a game,” said one of the Rush players. “You have to worry about these kinds of things.”
It was eminent from the start as on Philadelphia’s first possession defensive back Jorrick Calvin had an opportunity for an interception, one he would usually make, and dropped it.
The Soul would go on to score a touchdown and then recover the ensuing kick-off in the endzone for an early 14 – 0 lead.
“The first series of the game we got a chance to make a pick, we don’t make it, should have made it, but for us to be a great football team, we’ve got to make those plays,” said Rush head coach Bob McMillen. “It had a snowball effect.”
Obviously affected were the quarterbacks. Starting quarterback Carson Coffman completed 14 of 22 passes for 174 yards and five touchdowns. He was intercepted twice and was pulled for back-up Danny Southwick with 9:56 left in the game. Southwick wasn’t much better completing only four of nine passes for 68 yards and one score. He threw one touchdown but held on to the ball for long periods of time and was sacked twice.
“Our quarterbacks, both of them, need to step up and play better,” McMillen stated with a heated vigor. “If not, we will find somebody else that will. I am tired of playing games every week with our quarterbacks. You don’t like what I’m saying; go find somewhere else to play.”
There was a lot of emotion after this game and a lot of it negative coming from the Rush locker room. There is dislike in how the offense is being run and there is dislike on how the defense at times has not been able to stop opposing offenses or create turnovers.
With all of the rumors, speculations, and the bad loss on Saturday night, there appear to be multiple issues that will remain with the team and the organization for the rest of the season, something coach McMillen downplayed.
“There’s no effect at all,” he stated. “We’re playing and we’re practicing. It doesn’t have an effect on anything. It is just about how we play football.”
The lone bright spot in the game for the Rush was wide receiver Jared Jenkins. He caught eight passes for 121 yards and four touchdowns. He was a key red zone target for QB Carson Coffman.
Multiple players were sick during the course of the week. According to McMillen, they only practiced with 17 players one day during the week and players were sick during the game with flu-like symptoms.
Jeff has been writing for ArenaFan.com since 2004. Originally from New York, Jeff has been living in the Chicago area for the past ten years and is an avid football fanatic. He holds a BA in communications from Hofstra University in New York and a sports management certificate from Loyola University in Chicago.