American Conference

Bernard Morris morphing into Arena Football League Ironman

ORLANDO, Fla. – Bernard Morris is evolving into a throwback for the Arena Football League’s Orlando Predators.

In a league that once placed value on “Ironman” football – players who excelled offensively and defensively – the Jones High School product is willing to line up anywhere on the field.

The starting quarterback in Orlando last season, Morris won’t be behind center Saturday when the Predators (3-2) host the Cleveland Gladiators (3-2) at Amway Center at 7 p.m.

The Preds lost 56-46 at Cleveland in the American Conference title game in August, the outcome ultimately decided when Morris fumbled for the second time as Orlando trailed by nine points with nearly a minute left. It was his third-straight conference final loss after spending the previous two seasons with the Jacksonville Sharks.

(Click here to read revised story on Bernard Morris at Orlando Sentinel)

Morris will contribute in different ways in the rematch as former Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard gets the starting nod again for the sixth time this season.

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Arena Football League is Dead to Me

Congrats goes out to the Arizona Rattlers for wrapping up an ArenaBowl three-peat on Saturday while simultaneously crushing the hearts of 18,404 rabid, title-hungry sports fans in Cleveland. In the first ArenaBowl I ever paid attention to (while at a laundromat in 2002, of all places) the Rattlers were badly beaten 52-14 by the rival San Jose SaberCats.

On Saturday, Arizona ravaged the Gladiators to the tune of 72-32 to claim their third ArenaBowl title in a row. It’s the fourth consecutive appearance in the ArenaBowl for the Rattlers since the AFL relaunched in 2010.

It’s partially why I’m pleading for someone (anyone!) to please save the Arena Football League.

Never mind the constant chatter alleging the abuse of the paltry salary structure by teams with kickbacks to players, or that an owner once told me he’d fix games so home teams won every time if he could. Forget about all of that, I’m just concerned with two particular tweaks that would help make the league feel a little more legit again.

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando Predators Advance Past Pittsburgh Power in AFL Playoffs

Four teams remain in the Arena Football League’s postseason.

Over the weekend the San Jose SaberCats and Arizona Rattlers advanced in the National Conference while the Cleveland Gladiators and Orlando Predators moved on in the American Conference. Winners of those matchups this weekend advance to the ArenaBowl on Aug. 23.

On Sunday the Predators held off a late rally by the Pittsburgh Power to reach the conference title game with a 56-48 win. Preds quarterback Bernard Morris passed for 221 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 44 yards and four more scores. Former Florida State wide receiver Greg Carr finished with 97 yards receiving and four TDs on 10 catches.

( – Click here to read my story on Predators vs. Power for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – )

Carnahan Coverage: Pittsburgh Beats Orlando on Final Play

I’ve kept up with the Arena Football League ever since attending my first game during the 2001 season. I would soon go on to work for one of its teams on multiple occasions and later cover the league in some form or another, all while remaining a fan that genuinely enjoyed the sport.

I can’t say I feel that way about the AFL today. Maybe one day I’ll write more about why I’ve lost faith for those who don’t know how far the league has fallen since its relaunch in 2010.

But I must admit that on Saturday, when I made it out to my first game of the 2014 season while on duty for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Orlando, I was lucky enough to cover a nail-biter that came down to the final play of the game. It was one of those classic AFL finishes.

(– Click here to read my recap of Pittsburgh at Orlando for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review –)

It almost made me forget how shady the people running the league have been in recent years and how terrible they’ve treated players during that time. At least for a few hours. Good luck, AFL.