July 12, 2024

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State of Arena Football League in turmoil as commissioner cancels highly anticipated interview

4 min read
Screenshot from the Arena Football League's website that doesn't include the Georgia Force and Iowa Rampage's logos as of May 3

Screenshot from the Arena Football League's website that doesn't include the Georgia Force and Iowa Rampage's logos as of May 3

MINNEAPOLIS — In the midst of the Iowa Rampage announcing its decision to cease operations and making damaging accusations against the Arena Football League’s front office, Commissioner Lee Hutton III left the league with more uncertainty Thursday night.

The Rampage shared a letter to fans that it is discontinuing its season effective immediately. The news sent shockwaves around the league with some teams releasing statements regarding its status for week two and beyond.

Rampage owners Trevor Burdett and Mike Taliaferro accused the league of a number of issues including not paying players and coaches, not addressing the situation with the Philadelphia Soul and delayed shipment of footballs and jerseys.

“Lee Hutton is unavailable for weekly calls so answers go unanswered,” The owners said in the letter. “Lee once again promises that players will be paid and says money will be delivered to teams by [April 26]. This never happened.”

Former AFL star wide receiver and current Rampage offensive coordinator Donovan Morgan echoed the claims, but also called out the team’s owners.

“Now the owners are leaving all these guys out here stranded with no money and no place to stay after Monday,” Morgan shared on Facebook which was also reposted on the Rampage’s X account. “This is not all on the AFL. The owner plays a big part in this as well. Us as coaches have been out here a month with no pay and now the players with no pay. This has got to change.”

Following the announcement, the Southwest Kansas Storm shared late Thursday it reached an agreement with the AFL to continue its home game on Saturday against the Rampage. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 5 p.m. ET.

“The Southwest Kansas Storm ownership group is committed to our players, coaching staff, support staff and fans. [We] stand steadfast in continuing to provide a great football experience for all involved and have unwavering confidence in our ability to do so.”

The Rapid City Marshals released a statement acknowledging the Rampage and the issues affecting the league, but reassured fans it is committed to continuing the season.

“We are fully committed to maintaining the stability of our team, and providing our fans with an exceptional experience both on and off the field,” Wes Johnson, Co-owner and President of the Rapid City Marshals, said. “Our priority has always been to ensure the stability of our organization and showcase the talent and dedication of our players and staff.”

The Marshals, who were scheduled to be on the road against the Washington Wolfpack for week two, are on a bye week. The league or team did not share any reasons behind the decision.

The team said it anticipates more schedule shifting in the coming weeks, including its week three game against the Billings Outlaws being moved to Saturday, May 11.

“We have a talented team of players, coaches, and staff who are dedicated to representing Rapid City with pride and passion.” said Marshals Co-owner and Vice President Rebecca Chapman.

A source informed Arena Insider that its likely more teams will cancel operations either this weekend or next week.

On the AFL’s website, the Georgia Force and Rampage’s logos were removed. The team or the league did not release a statement about its plans for the future.

Prior to Iowa’s announcement, AFL’s podcast host Rod Villagomez shared on Monday’s now deleted episode that Commissioner Hutton would address the issues impacting the league on Thursday.

“I know there’s a lot of frustration but would you rather have a half-hearted answer right now or a full explanation when things get flushed out,” Villagomez said. “So we wait patiently and we celebrate the players that took the field [in week one].”

The podcast interview featuring Hutton was scheduled to broadcast at 11 pm ET, immediately following the Albany Firebirds’ home game against the Nashville Kats. The Firebirds won 51-41 and improved to 2-0.

The league then deleted the stream on YouTube about 30 minutes prior. Many people shared comments in the live chat anticipating Hutton would address the claims and unanswered questions.

Screenshot of the Arena Football League’s deleted live stream

In the meantime, games will be continued this Saturday and Sunday with the Marshals and Louisiana Voodoo on a bye week.

This remains a developing story and more details will be released as it becomes available.

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[…] and owners spoke out in disapproval of Hutton and the league office over the last few weeks, mostly regarding pay and playing conditions. Billings Outlaws owner Steven Titus appeared on Arena Insider Press Pass on May 4 and called for […]

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