An open letter to Gladiators owner Jim Ferraro, wherever he might be:
Can I call you that? It would have been nice to ask directly at, say, Sunday’s game at the Orleans Arena. But the Gladiators’ public relations staff confirmed you couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, which we only can hope was to scout a pee-wee flag football game for potential replacements at offensive line and defensive back. Whatever. It sure beats the explanation you offered for missing the two previous home games, which pretty much went along the lines of your team stinks.
Which means while you might be more invisible than any character H.G. Wells ever created, no one can accuse you of not having a good pulse on the situation.
In case you haven’t heard — or simply turned off your cell phone for fear someone from the team might try to reach you — the Gladiators lost for the seventh straight time and are now 1-8.
Orlando won 69-34 and at one point led 41-0, when your team seemed to have a relatively excellent chance to become the second in Arena Football League history to be shut out. The Predators had three scoring drives of one play each. Your team had three false starts in its first two series. The Predators had three touchdowns of 39 yards or more and have allowed four sacks all season. Your team allowed four on Sunday.
This, Jimbo, is known in sports as a mismatch of ridiculous proportions.
Trust me — it was beyond awful. Hide the women and children awful. Rush for the exits at halftime awful. You have a place-kicker who if in the NFL would have been cut before they issued training-camp shorts. You have a defense that covers as well as a Band-Aid might Yao Ming’s body. You have an offensive front that couldn’t block Thraxx the mascot and a defensive front that applies the pressure of toilet paper to a shaving cut. You have a crowd counter who failed basic math, given the announced attendance (5,684) was more FANTASY than any topless dance show at Luxor.
The best pass all day for the home team came from some fan named Josh, who split the uprights from midfield. You should check if he could kick a ball through from that spot, and if so sign him immediately.
None of this means you weren’t terribly missed, Jimbo. That sideline banner promoting your law firm just doesn’t cut it.
Look, I’m the last one worthy of offering advice to a guy who can hop on his own plane from his home in Florida and jet anywhere in the world his team is not playing, but to actually admit you haven’t attended some games here this season because — what were those inspiring words you told our beat writer, Mark Anderson — “I’m disgusted by the performance we’ve had,” might not be the best motto for next year’s season-ticket campaign.
It makes you appear more part of the problem than the solution, and that’s not a good thing for a fan base that has grown so apathetic, the loudest chorus of boos on Sunday were not for your dreadful team, but for the security guard who removed a beach ball from the stands.
You’ve done some good things, Jimbo. You hired a smart and experienced football mind in Sam Jankovich as your general manager this season, even though poor Sam arrived at 72 years old and after this latest debacle looked 97. You have a passionate, hard-working, first-year coach in Danton Barto, who has proven capable of winning big in the arena game and might even do so here if given a legitimate opportunity (translation: more than one season). You have somehow fooled more than two people into forking over $65 for a jersey of Shaun King, who, in case you aren’t aware, doesn’t play for your team any more.
It’s the players, Jimbo. They’re trying hard but aren’t any good. It’s something you might see yourself soon. Word has it, you plan on attending the home game against Los Angeles on Sunday. Good for you. Don’t be afraid to get involved. Dare to give that poor sap who on Sunday held up the sign reading, “Today is my birthday and all I want is a Gladiators win,” reason to believe his dream might come true next season. Be there for your Gladiators.
Who, by the way, will be the ones wearing red.
You know, just in case you forgot.
The guy who hopes you keep Barto around because of postgame assessments like this: “We do suck right now.”
Ed Graney can be reached at 383-4618 or email@example.com.ED GRANEYMORE COLUMNS