Mike Ditka brings instant credibility to the second generation of Chicago Rush football.
Ditka Joins Chicago Rush Ownership Group
Chicago, Ill. (Monday, January 25, 2010) – The newly-formed Arena Football One has returned a familiar face as NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka officially announced that he has joined the ownership group of the Chicago Rush. Ditka was a former owner of the Rush in its original form before the Arena Football League (AFL) closed its doors in 2008, and his return to the game has been turning many heads as the league embarks upon its second generation of play.
“It is no secret that I love the game of arena football and have a great deal of respect for the men who play it,” Ditka commented. “As you know, future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and many other NFL players have launched their careers through this great game. When I saw how serious this ownership group was about restoring a successful franchise in Chicago, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. From the hiring of Coach Mike Hohensee, one of the league’s best coaches, to acquiring the Rush name, the team definitely is moving in the right direction.”
The original AFL officially canceled its 2009 season in December of 2008, blaming financial woes as the cause of its demise. The league had been on a 22-year run and had an impressive TV deal with ESPN that included a weekly telecast on Monday nights during its final year of operation. Previously its minor league affiliate, the arenafootball2 (af2) was formed in 1999 and operated essentially as its own entity. When the AFL shut down, the af2 continued to play and completed its 2009 season with 25 teams. Some of the remaining franchises from the original AFL joined forces with af2 clubs in 2009 to create Arena Football One (AF1), and the new league will launch on Saturday, April 2nd, when the Spokane Shock host the Milwaukee Iron.
"We are excited about the upcoming kickoff of our inaugural season,” AF1 Commissioner Jerry Kurz said of the new league. “Our fans expect and deserve the best of arena football competition, and our teams, players and staffs are committed to meeting and exceeding their expectations.”
AF1 will play an 18-week schedule with each team playing eight home and road contests. The league is split into two divisions in a pair of conferences, and the regular season will conclude in July with playoffs beginning the first week of August.
For more information regarding Arena Football One, visit www.arenafootballone.com.