Game time stinks for Soul but not what's at stake

Receiver Emory Sammons celebrates the Soul's record-setting 89-34 win over the Sharks. ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Receiver Emory Sammons celebrates the Soul's record-setting 89-34 win over the Sharks. ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: August 07, 2012

THE COMMISSIONER concedes that the start time for the AFL championship game isn't optimal, but there's not a whole lot he can do.

The Soul will play for its second title on Friday against Arizona in ArenaBowl 25. The game is in New Orleans, but kickoff isn't until 10:30 p.m. EST.

"It's brutal," Soul owner Ron Jaworski said bluntly.

Television rules sports, especially minor leagues like the Arena Football League. The NFL Network, hoping to capitalize on Tebow-mania and the huge New York market, bumped the Arena championship game for the Jets-Bengals preseason game.

"They made a business decision, which was an understandable one," AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz said. "They have the ability to put on a game that's going to get great ratings and something the fans want. It's good business for them and they've been a great partner these past 3 years."

Jaworski, who makes a healthy living as a television analyst, couldn't suppress his anger.

"It's a brutal start time for our fans," he said. "There's nothing we can do about it. Television does control the game."

The way Kurz saw it, he had two options.

"We could have moved the game, but we already rented the arena, already sold tickets and done promotion," he said. "So moving the game wasn't a good option."

"We could have done tape delay, but the last time a championship game was done tape delayed, I was a little kid and the NBA did it. That was not a good thing to do."

Moving the game up to Friday afternoon wouldn't work either because the NFL Network didn't have an open window for that time, Kurz said. An early game also would put a crimp into fan exhibits in and around New Orleans Arena.

"People want it to be an evening game and Fan Fest is a really important part," he said. "We've got fans coming from all over and this gives them a chance to get together. It's not an ideal situation, but it's going to be a good situation."

The Soul will practice late afternoon/early evening leading up to the game to help players adjust to the late start.

Game stuff

Larry Brackins scored an AFL postseason record eight touchdowns and the Soul's defense forced six turnovers in an 89-34 rout of Jacksonville in Friday's American Conference championship game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Brackins, the lone remaining player from the 2008 championship team, had five receiving touchdowns, two more that were swing passes marked as rushing attempts and one scored by returning an onsides kick 12 yards. That's 48 points for Brackins, 14 more than the Sharks' entire team. Call it the "Brack Friday" game.

"He was just spectacular," Jaworski said. "One of the best individual performances I've ever seen in the Arena Football League."

The Soul set league playoff records for points (89) and margin of victory (55). Philadelphia has won its last four games by an average of 29.2 points. The Soul will play Arizona, which beat Utah, 75-69, in Saturday night's National Conference championship game.

The Soul did not play the Rattlers during the regular season.

"They're a team that's going to be hard to beat," Soul coach Doug Plank said. "They have a real aggressive coach [Kevin Guy] who will try onsides kicks and anything else at any point in the game … We'll have to expect the unexpected."

Soul notes

Kicker Fabrizio Scaccia, filling in for the injured Remy Hamilton, was 12-for-12 on extra points and hit a 22-yard field goal in a flawless performance on Friday. Scaccia also was strong on kickoffs ... Fans interested in ArenaBowl travel packages can call 888-789-SOUL … The team will host a going-away rally on Monday at the Aloft Philadelphia Airport hotel (4301 Island Ave.) from 12:30-3:30 p.m.

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