Sports Update...with Brian Gomez
Uncertainty clouds Rattlers’ ArenaBowl hopes
By Brian Gomez
When it comes to the Arena Football League, predicting the future isn’t easy. It’s almost impossible when you’re talking about the Arizona Rattlers.
Instead of trying to answer a flurry of off-the-field questions surrounding possible ownership and personnel changes, the Rattlers should be focused on a rematch with the San Jose SaberCats in ArenaBowl XVIII.
There’s no telling what’s going to happen after Sunday’s ArenaBowl at America West Arena.
Rumors have been flying like bodies crashing into the sideline boards during kickoff returns. The more speculative talk, the more uncertainty.
Some suggest that former Arizona State University and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White is on the way out. White has been the team’s only head coach since the franchise formed in 1992.
Others think that veterans, such as quarterback Sherdrick Bonner, receiver/linebacker Hunkie Cooper, wide receiver Randy Gatewood, lineman Mark Tucker and fullback Bo Kelly, could be done.
There even has been talk of the Rattlers folding. That’s just absurd.
White is in the last year of his contract, and it comes as no surprise that people are talking about him going elsewhere, given his stern demeanor. The decision regarding his future with the team might be out of his control, though.
Bonner and Cooper, both of whom are 35, signed two-year deals after last season, but some speculate that they will opt out of the final year of their contract and leave as winners if the Rattlers beat San Jose on Sunday.
Rattlers fans felt blessed to have Cooper back for a third straight ArenaBowl run, especially after several teams pursued him when he was a free agent in the off-season. Bonner was more likely to retire than to play elsewhere, but he might have been lured away had Cooper joined a new team.
Given the Arena Football League’s sudden expansion – three teams joined this year and two others are expected to join next season – the chances of the Rattlers folding are about as likely as Vice President of Operations Gene Nudo replacing Nelson Garner as kicker.
It’s just not going to happen.
Even though the Rattlers reportedly have lost money in recent years, they’ve been to the ArenaBowl three straight seasons, and there’s no denying their spot among the league’s elite teams.
The Rattlers aren’t the type of team that folds. There are too many fans, too much history, and too much at stake to simply close shop.
The coming months will dictate the future of the Rattlers.
Can they finally win the ArenaBowl again and avoid becoming the Buffalo Bills of the Arena Football League? Where is White headed next year, if anywhere at all? Will this Cinderella story featuring Bonner and Cooper last another season?
Stayed tuned. It’s going to be fun to watch.
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