Saturday, March 15, 2014

A11FL ahead of the spring football game 12 months prior to kickoff


The A11 Professional Football League is 12 months away from kicking off its first full season, bringing high-quality professional spring outdoor football back to the legions of fans who find themselves wanting more from the final play of the Super Bowl to the first whistle of National Football League training camps.

And with the A11FL’s opening kickoff just one short year away, it already has seven of its eight charter cities and brands announced, a full and accomplished leadership team in place, a two-year television contract with ESPN and continues to work behind the scenes to finalize details of its two showcase games later this year in Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas.

While there is no shortage of work to be done in all phases of preparation for the A11FL’s inaugural season – and a lot of details fans are itching to find out – history tells us that the A11FL is far ahead of the other three major spring outdoor football leagues in many phases of its rollout.

-         The United States Football League kicked off with 12 teams and six games on March 6-7, 1983. The USFL, however, didn’t announce its 12 cities (of which there were two franchise shifts prior to kickoff) until May 11, 1982, and it didn’t name Chet Simmons as its first Commissioner until June 13, 1982.

-         The NFL-backed World League of American Football’s first weekend of play was March 23-25, 1991. This easily was the most tenuous launch of the previous “Big Three,” given that the final league structure of 10 teams in three divisions and five countries over two continents wasn’t announced until November 14, 1990 – a little more than four months prior to kickoff. Exactly one year before kickoff, only three markets – Orlando, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama and Montreal, Quebec, Canada – had been made public.

Mike Lynn was named the WLAF’s President/CEO on October 10, 1990 – a little more than five months prior to kickoff.

-         The XFL’s inaugural weekend was February 3-4, 2001. Exactly one year prior to kickoff, on February 3, 2000, professional wrestling mogul Vince McMahon unveiled his plans to launch an eight-team professional football league. The league’s President, Basil V. DeVito Jr., was involved from the outset, but the XFL’s first franchise wasn’t publicly announced until June 13, 2000 (Chicago Enforcers), and the final franchise wasn’t revealed until September 15, 2000 (San Francisco Demons).

Waiting on new information from a new sports league can be frustrating – both for those inside and outside of the league. A11FL fans can take heart in two things – that the league is working tirelessly behind the scenes to give football fans the league they want in the spring/summer months, and that this league is well ahead of previous spring leagues in many phases of the game.

Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stuchbury’s love of start-up football leagues leads to role with A11FL

If there has been a professional football league not named the National Football League in the last two-plus decades, there’s a great chance Fran Stuchbury has covered it.

Stuchbury has covered the Arena Football League, arenafootball2, the XFL, the Canadian Football League and the United Football League in the past, and, now, he is joining the A11 Professional Football League’s advanced media team.

“What drew me to the A11FL was the quality people involved with the league,” Stuchbury said. “Back in 2001, when I did a weekly column for The Sports Network, I did an interview with XFL Vice President of Football Operations Mike Keller, who now is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the A11FL. He has a proven background with many football leagues.

“I could tell when I spoke to Co-Founder Steve Humphries on the phone. I loved his passion for this league. They are committed to bringing an exciting brand of football at the time of year where fans are going through ‘football withdrawl.’”

“We are excited to have a passionate sports writer like Fran join our media team,” said Humphries of Stuchbury. “His wealth of start-up football knowledge and ideas give fans an insider’s perspective of their new football league, and that makes Fran a perfect fit for his new role.”

Stuchbury, who is an Assistant Content Coordinator at The Sports Network and has worked there for almost 15 years, has had a long love affair with spring professional football, going all the way back to the original World League of American Football. In high school, he snuck over to Giants Stadium to go to New York/New Jersey Knights Fan Day.

From there, Stuchbury began a national radio show about the Arena Football League, “ArenaZone,” from his college radio station. His guests included AFL Founder Jim Foster (who referred to Stuchbury as a “pioneer” for doing an ArenaBall radio show), former AFL Commissioner David Baker and future National Football League Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner.

That led to his position with The Sports Network – and a long, winding road of non-NFL championship games he’s personally covered (six ArenaBowls, two ArenaCups, two UFL Championship Games and a Grey Cup) that’s taken him from Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Bossier City, Louisiana.

In addition to writing for the A11FL, Stuchbury also is looking forward to doing a radio show about the league. He said he is looking forward to the opportunity to interact with league fans, as well as establishing relationships with them.

“Broadcasting has been a passion of mine,” said Stuchbury. “I really enjoyed doing shows on Arena Football and the UFL. I also like to write and give fans a different point of view and talk about things nobody else is mentioning.”

Stuchbury’s A11FL stories will be featured at the upcoming blog site,

Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Panthers’ helmets reflect both brand’s past, franchise’s bright future

The Michigan Panthers will begin life in the A11 Professional Football League next spring with a sense of both nostalgia and forward thinking, thanks to its three (so far) helmet concepts.

“When we started this design project, we knew the Panthers helmet was a special case,” said Steve Humphries, A11FL Co-Founder/Vice President of Advanced Media. “The goal is always to improve a design, but the special challenge with this one is creating a modern design for a new football league while at the same time satisfying everyone’s opinion that the Michigan Panthers’ helmets was one of the best of all time.”

Michigan’s team colors are royal plum, light blue, champagne silver and white. The team’s primary helmet is champagne silver with a royal plum and light blue logo and royal plum face mask.

“It’s the classic, pure Panthers,” said James M. Kuty, Founder of Kuty Kreative out of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. “Gives me chills looking at it, knowing I was part in reviving such a revered brand.”

The Panthers’ Blue Steel helmet is light blue with a royal plum and champagne silver logo and royal plum face mask.

“It still has the classic look but with a modern twist,” Kuty said. “Taking the secondary color light blue is bold, daring and fun. That what this league is about!”

Michigan’s Frostbite helmet is white with a royal plum and light blue logo and white face mask.

“Well, the Frostbite helmet has described our winter here in the Midwest - snowy and chilly,” said Kuty. “Another great modern take of combining the geographic area and the Panthers brand.”

“The simplicity of Kuty’s design enables slight adjustments in the color arrangements to optimize the Panther logo for each color helmet,” Humphries said. “That’s the genius of the modernization that helps take the new Panthers brand to the next level.”

Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.