July 12, 2024

Arena Insider

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Exclusive: Philadelphia Soul player opens up about not playing and relocating for temporary shelter

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PHILADELPHIA – From kicking through the uprights to being kicked to the curb, the dream of a new football opportunity for Philadelphia Soul’s starting kicker quickly turned into a nightmare.

Conor Mangan joined the Soul in January. Mangan, who grew up in County Cork, Ireland, played professional rugby for the Atlantic Rock in Canada. He slowly transitioned into American football over the last few years, working out for several National Football League and Canadian Football League teams.

Then he saw the historic return of the Arena Football League as a promising opportunity.

“This is a fantastic organization with a massive fanbase,” Mangan told Arena Insider. “It appealed to me as a player and I thought I could bring the best that I have to offer to one of the best cities in the league.”

Mangan has a close relationship with former head coach Pat Pimmel, who recruited him to play for the Soul. The team appeared to have been prepared and motivated for the season with Pimmel at the helm.

But the week leading up to the opening game on the road against the Louisiana Voodoo ultimately marked a series of unimaginable events.

On April 25, Pimmel resigned from the team for personal reasons according to Mangan. Pimmel held an emotional team meeting right before their final practice of the week.

“It was kind of a shock to everyone to be honest,” Mangan said. “I’m not even sure the coaches knew anything about it and it hit us very hard. Coach Pimmel does a majority of the recruiting and everyone was excited to play for him.”

That same day, many within the organization voiced concerns over the team not having any personal trainers, workers compensation, housing and only one-way flights were booked to New Orleans – though the Voodoo compete in Lafayette which is about two hours away.

Nevertheless, the Soul still prepared for its game against the Voodoo but suddenly under the new leadership of Dallas Falcons owner Tyrone Washington. The Falcons compete in the American Arena League (AAL2).

The AFL, which was the owner of the Soul at the time, did not comment on the acquisition.

Photo of the Soul @ Voodoo game via: Louisiana Voodoo

Many Soul players including Mangan lived in a Super 8 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey which is about a 30 minute drive from the team’s practice facility in Pitman. The morning of April 26, the day the team was scheduled to travel, management at the motel told players to leave their rooms and held on to their belongings until payment was provided.

The team contacted police during the situation and were able to retrieve their stuff. Mangan was not at the motel at the time.

“From what I heard from a player and a coach, the motel wasn’t booked for that weekend because were supposed to be in Louisiana,” Mangan said. “Which makes sense because we were going to be moved into apartments after that, but the apartments also wasn’t booked. As things kind of broke down on Friday, we weren’t getting confirmation about the flights, the bus and we just didn’t know a lot of answers.”

A source within the Soul organization told Arena Insider that majority of the players received release forms immediately when they were kicked out, without reasons listed other than that they are entitled to a $300 payment. Mangan said he did not receive a form.

Arena Insider attached the release below and hid the player’s name for privacy and legal reasons. As of Wednesday, the player shared he never received the payment but has also signed with another AFL team.

According to sources with the team, all but a few players from the Soul were released. League officials then contracted the Falcons to play in their place against the Voodoo, which seemed to have caught the AAL2 team by surprise.

“We were notified to provided players on Friday at 5 p.m. so it was very last minute,” a team official told Arena Insider on Wednesday. “[Washington] covered all expenses. We are no longer needed by the Soul.”

When asked if Washington will still be coach, the Falcons stated, “he is not allowed to speak about it so we as a organization do not know.”

The team will resume playing in its AAL2 games this weekend.

Back on April 26, Mangan posted a video on social media at Philadelphia International Airport, updating fans about the flight situation.

“I had people coming to watch me play and asking for the live stream,” Mangan said on why he posted the video. “I was sitting in my car afterwards and I started to get angry. This is frustrating because I really wanted to play.”

Despite the uphill battle, Mangan continues to hold out hope. He’s been working out and posting highlights of his kicks on his Instagram page.

But he had to relocate and temporarily stay at a friend’s house in another city.

“My thoughts kind of went into taking care of myself because we didn’t have anywhere to stay, there was no accommodations,” Mangan said. “I was very lucky to have a friend that lives in a nearby city so I could still be available for Philadelphia. There’s some players that don’t have anything. Some had to buy flights and bus tickets to go home and are stuck in a much worse situation.”

The Soul will travel to play against the Minnesota Myth on Sunday – a game that was scheduled to be nationally televised but later removed for unknown reasons. The team is now under new ownership by Up 1 Athletic Showcase. It’s unclear if the team recruited new players or the former players were resigned.

Mangan hasn’t had much communication with the team since last week.

Although the road may have limited visibility in front of him, Mangan is staying focused on an opportunity to play the sport he loves.

“I’m still contracted with the Philadelphia Soul,” Mangan said. “I reached out to [general manager] Kelly Logan about it and I haven’t heard back.

“I’m not really sure what my backup plan is. I want to play football, I want to do well, I want to perform well and I want to win.”

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Tiffany Harris
Tiffany Harris
2 months ago

Wow! This is so unfortunate!

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