With the AFL, 21st century football has arrived in Washington


With the AFL, 21st century football has arrived in Washington

Heads up Washington: Arena Football has arrived and pants are required.

"This isn't ain't your daddy's and granddaddy's football. This is 21st century football," said famed rocker Gene Simmons.

No, there wasn't a Kiss concert at the Verizon Center, but an introductory press conference for the Arena Football League's newest franchise.

The Washington [insert name here] will begin play during the spring of 2017. Simmons, co-owner of the LA Kiss, started the hype Wednesday afternoon to a live television audience, media members and a large group gathered for the announcement of the city's newest team.

"Come see one of our games," Simmons commanded. "Best time you can have with your pants on."

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and the Verizon Center now has a football team as part of his portfolio. Monumental Sports & Entertainment formally announced the acquisition last week of the franchise, becoming the ninth team in the AFL. The D.C. area previously had an AFL franchise in the late 1980's.

Washington will begin play during the league's 30th season. By then decisions on a team name, coach and players will take place. Fans of Leonsis's other teams can probably guess the likely color scheme.

Washington mayor Muriel Bowser attended the press conference "for the new Washington football team" along with other notables including Simmons; NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, owner of the Philadelphia Soul; and AFL commissioner Scott Butera.

Mentions of the AFL being family friendly and affordable entertainment were peppered throughout. Leonsis described the league's potential as having "incredible upside."

"This is a fast-paced friendly game and we intend to embrace, to bring it far and wide to our fan base, our community," Leonsis said.

Arena Football is similar yet different to the traditional version played on Saturday's and Sunday's. For starters, it's played indoors in confined space usually reserved for hockey rinks. There are traditional player positions, just fewer of them. Formations are varied, but with a modern twist. The clock never stops and --wait for it -- neither does the action.

"It is like hockey in that there is no downtime," Leonsis told

Most of all, there is scoring. Lots of it.

"I still struggle saying hold them to under 60 [points] and we win," joked Derrick Brooks, Hall of Fame linebacker with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and president of the AFL's Tampa Bay Storm.

Simmons didn't struggle in the role of AFL hype man.

"We want to completely assault your senses, make you fans and make you understand that this is the type of football that has never existed before," Simmons stated.

Just remember that when you arrive at Verizon Center for games in 2017, pants are required.

[RELATED: Gene Simmons and Leonsis talk Arena Football]

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.


A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.