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Arena football?

Staff Reports

Are you ready for some phony football?By Nickey HernandezLike all beer-swilling, cud-chewing, and porn-craving American males, I’m addicted to the savage ballet known as professional football.While God-fearing do-gooders pray to their maker every Sunday, I’m sprawled on the couch, praying my bookie won’t call.By the time the righteous depart their ornate chapels, my wife-beater T-shirt is coated in milieu of salty snack treats and greasy pizza stains.I have a poster of Brett Favre in my bedroom. I’ve French kissed Vice Lombardi’s bronze bust at the NFL Hall of Fame. And when the great head coach in the sky puts me on final waivers, I’ll be buried in Lambeau Field.You may think me mad, but I don’t care, because I know this unwavering devotion will land me a date with &quotTHOSE TWINS.&quotNow that the great game is done for the season, I’m lost. And like most junkies, I needed a little hair of the dog, or a methadone clinic, to take the edge off.So I attended Sunday’s debut Arena Football League match between the expansion Colorado Crush and the Georgia Force.In case you did not know, Colorado has a new Arena team. Ex-Bronco great John Elway is a co-owner and the big metro papers have promoted the new game more than the upcoming Iraqi war.Aside from the helmets, shoulder pads and hot cheerleaders, the AFL has nothing in common with the NFL.For starters, the NFL provides sports writers like me with three free meals during the course of a game. This weekly feast lets underpaid press hacks chow down on pasta, prime rib, cheese, fruit, and desserts like Meat Loaf prepping for a national tour.The Crush offered cold cut sandwiches at $7 a pop.The AFL is played on a baby-like 50-yard field. Each team has eight men per side. Punting is forbidden. Teams have to get a first down, kick a field goal or score a touchdown with each possession.AFL games are like the sandlot matches I played in grade school with teams marching up and down the mini-field at will.Scores can reach the triple figures. No one plays defense. No one runs the ball. No one gets carted off with a spinal cord injury.&quotIt’s bullshit compared to real football,&quot offered George Petersen, a beefy, blue-eyed monster I met at halftime. &quotI’m not watching. I’m just drinking beer.&quotPetersen, a Castle Rock truck driver, almost punched me when I asked if he was a season ticket holder.&quotThat’s an insult,&quot he scoffed.Tim Gibson, a personal injury attorney, bought seasons tickets to the Crush. That proves ambulance-chasing lawyers make too much money.&quotIt’s fun, but I can’t get with it, to be honest,&quot he said. &quotIt’s fun to watch, but I don’t consider it football. I’d be surprised if it lasted. I don’t think the entertainment value is there.&quotTo be fair AFL games offer a fast pace game. The Sunday match ended with the Crush losing by a score of 40-44.And unlike real football, you don’t have to stand outside in the cold rain and snow or catch a whiff of the Barrel Man’s body sweat to enjoy a Crush game.The Pepsi Center did its best to keep things moving. At times the doings seemed more like a carnival than a crushing display of human violence, as an odd assortment of entertainment rolled onto the field during every break.A Kiss tribute band called &quotHotter than Hell&quot performed at halftime. Armed U.S. Army Rangers repelled from the ceiling and ran off the field in full camouflage. A potbellied pig ran loose during a time out. Hip Hop dancers did their thing. There was a guy on stilts; X-game dudes on flying bicycles, and trapeze artists.Dwarf tossing is planned for the season finale.Still, there was too much good cheer and not enough danger or cruelty to keep me interested in the AFL.No one got drunk and the audience was told to be polite. The Pepsi Center announcer urged all to remain excited for the game’s televised audience. He also asked everyone to refrain from cussing, flashing tossing deadly objects or dwarfs onto the field.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the arena to hide from his bookie.


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