Soul, 5 Other Arena Football League Teams Close Local Operations

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Soul, and each of the five other teams that make up the Arena Football League (AFL), have ceased local business operations as the league looks to restructure.

Ron Jaworski, part of the Soul ownership group and AFL Chairman of the Executive Committee, told NBC Sports Philadelphia that each of the six teams in the league, including the Soul, are not ceasing all operations, however. The AFL has not yet determined whether it will suspend operations entirely, as they explore other options and seek a path for "financial solvency, a verdict that is said to be forthcoming," writes The Times Union.

Coaches, front-office staff and the players union were informed Tuesday of the AFL's decision. AFL Commissioner Randall Boe released the following statement shortly after:

Earlier today, the Arena Football League was forced to make the difficult, but necessary decision to close our team services and business operations units in our local markets.

These closures have resulted in the elimination of various staff positions, and is a direct consequence of the current financial constraints facing the AFL, which include extensive legacy liabilities and a recent multimillion-dollar litigation filed against the League by an insurance carrier that provided coverage for the AFL between 2009 and 2012. Those liabilities, which are all related to prior League operations, severely constrain the League’s ability to expand and operate.  

The financial challenges we are now dealing with do not, however, reflect the determined efforts of our current shareholders to maintain the viability of the AFL. Our shareholders have made significant investments to restructure and re-launch the AFL and make it successful. Additionally, they have continued to work actively with the League office to grow the sport in their respective markets. Every touchdown celebrated and every ArenaBowl trophy ever hoisted can be credited to their efforts and to our incredibly loyal and growing fanbase.

The AFL is innovative, brave and fun. Our teams push barriers and continually experiment with dynamic ways to engage fans, creating some of the most memorable live action sports experiences.

We would like to thank our employees for their tremendous service during their time with the AFL and we value the important role they played in being our front-line ambassadors for the sport.

Looking forward, the AFL will continue to push ahead with efforts to identify solutions to address the aforementioned financial constraints. We have not yet made the final determination that it will be necessary to suspend all League operations, but we expect that decision to be made within the next few weeks. Should we not be able to move forward, we will issue information about all applicable refunds at that time. We are exploring every possible avenue to continue bringing AFL football to our fans, including further evolutions to the current business model, and are engaging with prospective investors and supporters who are interested in seeing the League continue to grow.

Boe told The Times Union that the AFL has been evaluating it becoming a traveling league "as a potential model to go forward and keep the league alive." He adds, "“I hesitate to say that we have a sense that that is likely to be successful. It’s the thing that we're looking at. We really don't see an alternative to that.”

Such a model would be similar to the Premier Lacrosse League, whose "players practice in a centralized location and fly to a different city each weekend to play games," The Times Union writes.

The three-time-champion Soul played 14 seasons in the league from 2004 to 2019; under Jaworki's leadership, the Soul recently won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017.

All AFL operations will continue to run through the Philadelphia-based AFL office as the league determines its next step. AFL teams in addition to the Soul include: Albany Empire, Atlantic City Blackjacks, Baltimore Brigade, Columbus Destroyers, and Washington Valor.


Soul WR Darius Prince Added to XFL Draft Pool

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Mike Kruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Just 13 months after being released from the Philadelphia Eagles training camp roster, two-year Arena Football League veteran WR Darius Prince may get his chance at outdoor professional football after all with the XFL.

On Thursday, the XFL announced the latest additions to its draft pool, including Prince of the Philadelphia Soul.

In two seasons with the Soul, Prince has caught 162 passes for 2,012 yards and 45 touchdowns. The Penn State - Beaver alumnus earned First Team All-Arena honors in his rookie AFL season, 2018, after tallying more than 1,000 receiving yards.

The eight-team XFL, set to launch in 2020, will host its player draft on Tuesday, October 15, and Wednesday, October 16.


Soul, Raudabaugh Ready for ArenaBowl 32 Showdown Against Empire

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(Mike Kruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com)

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Coming off of a 7-5 regular season finish and home-and-home playoff series sweep of the defending-Arena Football League-champion Washington Valor, the Philadelphia Soul will play for their fourth championship in franchise history Sunday evening opposite the top-seeded Albany Empire in ArenaBowl 32 at the Times Union Center. Sunday's championship game mark's the Soul's sixth-ever ArenaBowl appearance; they are looking for their fourth title in franchise history and their third in the last four seasons, having won in 2016 and 2017, along with 2008. 

Largely helping the Soul advance to the ArenaBowl was their defense containing Valor dual-threat QB and Second Team All-Arena selection, Arvell Nelson, who led the AFL in total offense this season. Over the two-game series, Nelson threw five interceptions and was sacked seven times. Recently assigned Soul DL Malik Forrester has accounted for an AFL-best 4.5 sacks so far this postseason, including 3 in last Sunday's championship clincher.

Now, the Soul defense will look to contain Empire QB and three-time MVP Tommy Grady, who has been sacked just once this season. That sack came via Soul lineman Sean Daniels in the team’s Week 10 win against the Empire. In the second half of that game, Grady uncharacteristically completed just 8 of 18 passes and threw two picks. Overall this season, Grady led the AFL in completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns.

The Soul have 12 players with previous ArenaBowl experience, including veteran QB Dan Raudabaugh

  • Over his four appearances, Raudabaugh ranks second in ArenaBowl history in passing yards (1,101, 275.3 per game) and touchdowns (21, 5.25 per game), trailing only QB Nick Davila (1,437 passing yards, 35 touchdowns).
  • Raudabaugh (97) needs just 14 completions to break Davila’s ArenaBowl record (110).
  • In his last appearance (2017), Raudabaugh threw four touchdowns, three being to current teammates Darius Prince (2) and Darius Reynolds (1). James Romain and Dwayne Hollis each had an interception in the victory.

ArenaBowl 32 will feature 12 of the league's 18 First Team All-Arena selections (9 from Empire and 3 from Soul - Romain, Prince and Neal Tivis).

Continue reading "Soul, Raudabaugh Ready for ArenaBowl 32 Showdown Against Empire" »


Soul DB James Romain Named 2019 AFL Defensive Player of the Year

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 5.18.44 AMBy Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Just days after being named the Arena Football League's Defense Back of the Year, Philadelphia Soul First-Team All-Arena veteran DB James Romain earned another top league honor on Friday — Defensive Player of the Year.

Romain is the third Soul player over the last four years, and third overall, to win the AFL Defensive Player of the Year award, joining DB Tracy Belton (2016) and current GM and assistant head coach Beau Bell (2017). The Soul are among just three teams in AFL history to produce at least three Defensive Player of the Year award winners, joining the San Jose Sabercats (5) and Orlando Predators (4).

 

Continue reading "Soul DB James Romain Named 2019 AFL Defensive Player of the Year" »


Soul's Clint Dolezel Named 2019 AFL Head Coach of the Year

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Just three days before the Philadelphia Soul compete for their fourth-ever ArenaBowl championship, their head coach earned the highest Arena Football League coaching honor.

On Thursday, Soul head coach Clint Dolezel was named the 2019 Moss-Marcum Head Coach of the Year, marking the third time in his career that he received the award (2015, 2016, 2019). Dolezel is also just the second three-time winner of the award in AFL history, joining fellow AFL Hall of Famer Perry Moss.

Soul star QB Dan Raudabaugh called Dolezel a "staple in this game" for the past 20 years, and that he has been "one of, if not the biggest contributor to the Soul’s success.” 

“Calling the offense, defense, and special teams, there’s no one like him in the game and we’re lucky to have him," Raudabaugh said.

Over seven years with the Soul, Dolezel has an 86-37 record, along with two ArenaBowl championships in back-to-back seasons, 2016 and 2017. This season alone, albeit a myraid of injuries, the former QB coached the Soul to a 7-5 regular season record and their sixth-ever ArenaBowl appearance. In just days, he can win a third championship.

The Soul's press release adds:

[Dolezel] handled play-calling duties for both the offense and defense this year, while producing seven All-Arena honorees. Dolezel currently sits in seventh on the AFL’s all-time coaching wins list, having passed Redskins coach Jay Gruden earlier this season.

Dolezel and the rest of the 2019 AFL awards recipients will be recognized at the AFL Award Ceremony on Saturday, August 10 — one day before ArenaBowl 32 between the Soul and Albany Empire — at the Times Union Center.

Continue reading "Soul's Clint Dolezel Named 2019 AFL Head Coach of the Year" »


Soul DB James Romain Named AFL Defense Back of the Year for 2nd Straight Season

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Philadelphia Soul veteran DB James Romain made Arena Football League history on Monday, following his team's 48-41 victory on Sunday to clinch a trip to ArenaBowl 32.

In being named AFL Defense Back of the Year for the second straight season, Romain also became the first player in the league to earn the award multiple times in its eight-year history.

This season, Romain led the Soul in pass break-ups (12) and the overall league in interceptions (8) — three of which were returned for touchdowns — helping him earn First-Team All-Arena honors for the fourth time over the last five seasons. Romain was named to the First-Team last Thursday along with teammates OL Neal Tivis and WR Darius Prince.

The Soul all-time interceptions leader was a key component in helping his team eliminate the reigning champion Washington Valor to advance to the ArenaBowl; he picked off dual-threat Valor QB Arvell Nelson three times in the first game of the home-and-home series.

A Soul player has now been named AFL Defense Back of the Year in four straight seasons; in addition to Romain (2018, 2019), Dwyane Hollis (2017) and Tracy Belton (2016) also earned the honor; Kent Richardson (2012) was the first and only other Soul player to earn the honor.

Romain and the rest of the 2019 AFL awards recipients will be recognized at the AFL Award Ceremony on Saturday, August 10 — one day before ArenaBowl 32 between the Soul and Albany Empire — at the Times Union Center.

Continue reading "Soul DB James Romain Named AFL Defense Back of the Year for 2nd Straight Season" »


Soul Advance to ArenaBowl 32

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(Mike Bruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com)

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

FINAL | Soul 48, Valor 41 | Boxscore | Attendance: 8,537

Amid their eighth straight postseason run, the Philadelphia Soul will compete in the Arena Football League championship game — the ArenaBowl — for the sixth time in franchise history and the third time over the last four seasons.

On Sunday, the team defeated the reigning league champion Washington Valor at the Wells Fargo Center — the second of a two-game, home-and-home playoff series — 48-42. The Soul either needed to win or lose by no more than 35 points on Sunday to clinch a berth to the ArenaBowl, given they gained a 36-point advantage in the aggregate-deciding series, also defeating the Valor last Sunday, 69-33. The total aggregate score was 117-74 in favor of the Soul.

By advancing to the championship with the playoff series sweep, the Soul tie the Detroit Drive for the fourth-most ArenaBowl appearances in AFL history, bested only by the Arizona Rattlers (10), Tampa Bay Storm (8) and Orlando Predators (7).

ArenaBowl 32 will take place next Sunday, August 11, against the Albany Empire at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York.

Continue reading "Soul Advance to ArenaBowl 32" »


Soul Vie for 6th-Ever ArenaBowl Appearance in Home Finale

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(Mike Kruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com)

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After defeating the reigning champion Washington Valor, 69-33, in the first game of their home-and-home playoff series, the Philadelphia Soul will carry a 36-point lead into the second leg Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

A Soul win or loss by no more than 35 points against the Valor will secure the team's sixth-ever trip to the league championship game — ArenaBowl 32 next Sunday, August 11, against the Albany Empire at the Times Union Center. It would also be the Soul's third trip to the ArenaBowl over the last four seasons.

With a win, the Soul's sixth appearance in the ArenaBowl would tie the Detroit Drive for the fourth-most in Arena Football League history, bested only by the Arizona Rattlers (10), Tampa Bay Storm (8) and Orlando Predators (7).

Continue reading "Soul Vie for 6th-Ever ArenaBowl Appearance in Home Finale" »


7 Soul Players Named to AFL All-Arena Teams for 2019 Season

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By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

On Thursday, seven players from the Philadelphia Soul were named to the Arena Football League’s 2019 All-Arena teams — including three first-team and four second-team selections: DB James Romain (1), OL Neal Tivis (1), WR Darius Prince (1), FB Adrian Ferns (2), C PK Manley (2), DE Sean Daniels (2), and DB Dwayne Hollis (2).


First-Team All-Arena

#25 DB James Romain

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The reigning AFL Defensive Back of the Year, Romain led the Soul in pass break-ups (12) and the league in interceptions (8), helping him earn first-team honors for the fourth time over the last five seasons. Of Romain's eight interceptions, three were returned for touchdowns.

Continue reading "7 Soul Players Named to AFL All-Arena Teams for 2019 Season" »


Soul Announce 2019 Arena Football League Playoff Schedule

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 By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Soul's quest to return to the ArenaBowl and compete for their fourth championship in franchise history will run through the reigning champion Washington Valor (7-5).

On Monday, the team announced its 2019 playoff schedule, after this past weekend finishing the Arena Football League regular season with the third seed.

  • Sunday, July 28: at Valor, 3:30 p.m., Capital One Arena
  • Sunday, August 4: vs. Valor, 4 p.m., Wells Fargo Center
  • Sunday, August 11 (if necessary): ArenaBowl XXXII, 8 p.m., Times-Union Center (if against Albany Empire)/Boardwalk Hall (if against Baltimore Brigade)

The Valor (second seed) defeated the Soul in both meetings, although the Soul still hold an all-time 6-3 record, including a 4-1 road record, against them. The team with the highest aggregate score between the two home-and-home games on July 28 and August 4 will advance to ArenaBowl XXXII to face the winner of the Albany Empire-Baltimore Brigade series.

Visit www.philadelphiasoul.com/playoffs for more information and to purchase tickets.

Photo: Mike Kruce/SportsTalkPhilly.com