Austin Wranglers Season Opener Sunday

More interesting than Canadian football and better smelling than the European league, arena football has definitely earned its position as the NFL's socially awkward foster child. And with its new ESPN contract, this is the Arena Football League's time to shine. It's already moved up to second on the Google search results list for AFL after the stock symbol for AFLAC, surpassing both the Australian Football league and typos on ALF message boards.

Even better, Austin has its very own team, the Wranglers, and their season kicks off Sunday at the Frank Erwin Center.

There's no better time to get obsessed: Not only is this the season opener, but the home team is headed for big things this season, and I will personally guarantee that Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Gladiators will be more exciting than the Super Bowl. Although, to be truthful, all I remember from this year’s championship was that commercial with the two guys kissing, so I’m basically promising that this game will be more exciting than two unattractive dudes accidentally making out over a Snickers bar.

Both teams have new coaches and quarterbacks this season. Behind center for Austin is ex-New Orleans Saints backup Adrian McPherson, and calling signals for the Gladiators will be Shaun King, formerly an NFL starter who led the Tampa Bay Bucks to the NFC championship game in 1999.

King will most likely be a big threat to the Wranglers Sunday, so I say we break his spirit with posters pointing out that he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004. Seriously, the Cardinals. Apparently they do cut people.

Both teams have ridiculous depth at wide receiver (including former Houston Texan Derrick Lewis on the Wranglers) and agile and talented QBs, so this should be a high-scoring, fast-paced game, something very common in the league. Other Wranglers to watch for include veteran FB/LB Dane Krager, WR/DB Sedrick Robinson, and UT alums LB Greg Brown and DL Aaron Humphrey. Humphrey won’t be playing this season, but he will no doubt continue to earn his reputation as the injury reservin’est player in the AFL.

Of course, this is arena football we’re talking about here, so also keep an eye out for a final score better suited for a high school basketball game and field goal attempts from the opposite end zone. And look out for McPherson, he could always have the old NFL injury flair up (he was hit by, really, a golf cart driven by the Tennessee Titans mascot), and since the Wranglers don’t currently have a backup QB signed, I’m guessing they’ll start suiting up volunteers from the audience. That’s the way it plays out in my head, anyhow.

In any case, the AFL is the new NFL methadone.

For me it's replacing XFL bootlegs (99 cents per game DVD on eBay, seriously) and forcing my Xbox to play Madden against itself while I weep quietly in the dark.

For ticket info, go to

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