With Tuesday's announcement that The Albany Empire and the AFL shutting down operations a lot of people are talking about another Albany sports team that didn't make it.

It's a real bummer to me because I think AFL football was more fun and a better experience for the fans than the NFL. Was it bigger? No. Did it put a better product on the field? No. Was it more profitable than the NFL? Obviously not. However, when it comes to the fan experience you just couldn't beat an Arena Football game.

Here are my top five reasons I liked the AFL better than the NFL.

  1. The players are playing for the love of the game....not a huge paycheck. I've always felt like the AFL players were either playing because they just loved football or they saw this as a path into the NFL....aka Kurt Warner. That goes for the coaches too.
  2. The Refs let the players play. You didn't see a ton of laundry on the field during an AFL game. If both players were hand-checking down the field usually the refs weren't going to call pass interference. It was nice to see the players play! The officials almost never made calls that changed the outcome of a game.
  3. You get to see tons of scoring and just when you think there couldn't be anymore scoring....there's more. Instead of a defensive battle that ends 7 to 3 in the NFL. Arena football games end 69 to 42.
  4. No punting. Unlike the NFL where you get to 4th down and you know your team is going to punt 90% of the time. You're not allowed to punt in the AFL. Nope you gotta man up and go for it on 4th down....even if you're backed up to your own end zone.
  5. You can bring your entire family to an AFL game and you don't have to take out a second mortgage to do it. You could buy season tickets for $99 and there wasn't a bad seat in the stadium for an arena football game.

That's why it really sucks that the league has closed it's doors. There is a slight chance the league could restructure and reopen. Right now fans are asking about refunds for their season tickets. The Albany Empire did release a statement that details for refunds will be coming soon.