Arena Football League players cry foul at owners, try to live to tell the tale shutdown

For Aaron Garcia, the toughest component was telling his 3 youngsters approximately Christmas. Sure, whilst the New York Dragons quarterback heard that the Arena Football League had voted to droop the 2009 season, with no promise of go back, the 38-yr-old concerned about his mortgage, his circle of relatives's health insurance, and dusting off his resume. But the worst issue become explaining the situation to his 5-, 7-, and 10-12 months-olds.

"I get this call  weeks before the holiday," Garcia says. "I had to tell my children it changed into going to be a special sort of Christmas than final year."

Citing the recession and the need for an progressed economic version, AFL proprietors voted in December to close down the league for as a minimum 365 days. The AFL, which turned into heading into its twenty third season, did now not element the particular problems or address why a shutdown became essential to solve them.

The decision came as something of a marvel for a league that had survived a good deal longer than many skeptics notion it would, featured a completely unique fashion of play that blanketed a 50-yard discipline and high-scoring video games, and set an attendance record final year. Startled gamers had been left to revel in the visceral fear that has stalked the numerous Americans who have misplaced their jobs in this wobbly financial system, uncertain of the popularity of their wages and benefits, and disenchanted with management about a lack of transparency.

AFL salaries are modest, with maximum players earning among $40,000 and $50,000 consistent with season. The league minimum is $31,000, and the average profits, boosted by means of the contracts of a handful of franchise players who earn six figures, is $80,000. Most area athletes maintain non-soccer jobs during the offseason.

"I even have a middle-class domestic in Sacramento, three bedrooms for 3 kids," says Garcia, who for maximum of his profession has labored a 2d task throughout the offseason. "I actually have mortgage payments like every body else. Now every day I'm making calls, seeking to determine out what the next flow may be. Maybe I'll move as much as Canada to finish my career by myself phrases, but if that does not work out I'm looking into training, perhaps the fireplace department."
In addition to fearing for his livelihood, Garcia is angry about how the league has treated the shutdown. "They had been holding the chance of financial disaster over our heads in asking us to comply with this," says Garcia. "The Dragons ownership has been desirable to us, but there are a whole lot of proprietors who, even though they might be dropping money, I certainly agree with they're taking gain of the state of affairs, whether to keep the salaries down or to get out of a number of their debt."

Acting AFL commissioner Ed Policy did no longer reply to repeated interview requests. Dragons proprietor Steven Silva initially agreed to an interview, however canceled due to the fact the league has ordered its golf equipment not to talk to the media for the duration of the restructuring duration. The AFL has set a March 1 deadline for accomplishing a agreement with gamers and presenting plans for the future.

"The manner they may be handling this is shameful," says Henry Taylor, a Dragons group representative. "It's all behind closed doorways; I cannot even get any information. Guys have families, better halves who are pregnant, and we're in limbo."

Adds Will Holder, a former Dragon who performed with Kansas City in 2008 and is now uncertain of how he can pay his mortgage or offer for his two kids and one stepchild: "There are not enough eyes and ears at the proprietors, who do not appear to have any motivation to build trust. We're handling millionaires and billionaires.  These are those who recognize their organizations. They ought to have instructed us what is occurring months ago so we may want to get ourselves and our households organized."

"This whole element is bull-," says the Dragons' Billy Parker. "They've regarded for some time that they're having financial issues and they informed us per week before Christmas that they weren't going to play, while men had already cease their offseason jobs to teach for the season. We were simply not noted there. (Dallas Cowboys and Desperados owner) Jerry Jones is constructing one billion-dollar stadium in Dallas; is he hurting for cash?"
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