AFL Promises High Intensity, Fast Paced Games

Arena league football.

You take the intensity of the NFL and cram it into a much smaller space. The hits are just as hard. The players are just as big and this game is a whole lot faster.

We hit the practice field at Texas Stadium with the division champion Dallas Desperados for the 411 on the Arena Football League.

"We have 50 yard fields instead of 100 yard fields," explained Desperado quarterback Clint Dolezel. "We are half as wide than the outdoor game. Our field goal post are only nine feet wide instead of 18 feet wide so everything is a lot more compact. There's no punting allowed so you kick a field goal even if you are on your own one yard line."

When the AFL began almost 20 years ago, it was virtually unknown. Fans were slow to accept the change from what millions view every Sunday in the NFL.

"With the outside perception that maybe it's minor league or whatever," said Desperados head coach Wil McClay, "but when you get onto this field and you see the speed and intensity of the athletes, you get a new appreciation of it."

"A lot of NFL guys come to play our game," Dolezel said, "and they realize real fast that these athletes out here are either ex-NFL guys or trying to get there and they are pretty good football players."

One of those converted to a believer is former Oakland Raider and three time Pro-Bowler Lincoln Kennedy who became a Desperado this season.

"It's like you take a fight in the boxing ring and you condense the boxing ring to the size of a broom closet," Kennedy said. "There's also a lot of excitement to the game but there's also a lot of contact a lot of speed, a lot of finesse."

The networks have now taken notice of the growth of the sport. This year ABC and ESPN are teaming up to broadcast AFL games. Attendance for games has climbed each year for the past three years by an average of 23 percent. For players and coaches the hard work is paying off.

Action begins this Sunday, March 3, at 11:30 a.m., as the Desperados take on the New York Dragons on KLTV 7.