Veras

History of a Fictional Football League (1989 – 44th Victory Bowl)

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1980_season_by_verasthebrujah-dab9s1i.jp

 

Over the past several years, sportswriters repeatedly spent the preseason predicting that the Pittsburgh Miners were no longer the team to beat in the Northeast, and that Buffalo and New York were on the rise, only to watch the Miners take the division title again and again.  This year, however, the change finally occurred.  The Miners fell to 6-8, putting up a losing record for only the fourth time since Willie Krause’s arrival in 1955.  The Imperials held first place for most of the year, but imploded in December.  With 5 weeks remaining, they were 7-2 (a game ahead of 6-3 Buffalo), but finished the season on a 1-4 run, which included losses at Baltimore and Pittsburgh and at home against Chicago and Buffalo.  The loss to Buffalo in the season finale was particularly heartbreaking, as a win would have allowed them to slip into the playoffs on a wildcard berth.

 

The Arizona Firebirds saw the departure of the first starting quarterback in the team’s history, Dave Bennett.  He lost the starting job to backup Terry Simmons during training camp, and rather than end his career as a backup, he requested that he be released so that he could return to Canada (where he became a legend in a 7 year career with the defunct Toronto Bruins).  He was quickly signed by the Edmonton Drillers 6 weeks into the NFA season.  In the end, this change didn’t work out well for anybody.  Bennett played reasonably well, but went 1-5 as a starter, while the Firebirds saw their record drop to 4-10, just 3 years after playing in the Victory Bowl.  With no serious competition, the Texas Stallions dominated the Southern Division, going 11-3 and earning the top playoff seed.  The losers of the 34th Victory Bowl look even stronger than they did last season.

 

The Central Division proved to be surprisingly close.  Colorado, who went 14-0 in 1979 before falling in the first round of the playoffs, regressed to the mean, despite the addition of two great weapons on offense in veteran FB Don Johnson and rookie of the year WR Danny St. Mark.  Meanwhile, the defending champion Minnesota Angels fell to .500 due largely to the retirements of several key players and coach Gus Koch.  The big surprise was the rise of the St. Louis Aces.  Two years removed from a 1-13 record, the Aces swept the season series with Colorado, and finished only one game behind them, nearly taking the division title.  However, early season losses to weak teams (Milwaukee and Miami) came back to haunt them, and they weren’t able to work their way out of that hole.  They finished at 7-7, just one game behind the Cents.  Colorado will enter the postseason with the 7th seed.

 

Seattle didn’t lose a step under new head coach Bob Montgomery, going 11-3 for the third time in four years as QB Rob Connery won his second consecutive MVP award (becoming the first player to win the award in back to back years since New Orleans DE Mosiah Lynch in 1959-60).  The San Diego Destroyers never seriously challenged the Grizzlies for dominance in the West, but they were able to squeak their way into the playoffs at 8-6, earning the final wildcard berth on tiebreakers over New York, and the 8th seed.  Few writers are giving them much of a chance, however.  They were 2-5 on the road this year, with their only wins coming against Portland (5-9) and Los Angeles (6-8).

 

The season’s biggest surprise came in the Southeastern Division, where the Atlanta Rebels stormed to a 10-6 record, earning the first division title (and the first playoff berth) in team history.  This also broke Washington’s league record streak of 8 consecutive division titles.  A strong defense and rushing attack made up for the Rebels 22nd ranked passing offense, and they clinched the division with a 23-10 win over the Wasps at home in week 13.  The Wasps wouldn’t be held out of the playoffs however, as they finished at 8-6, earning a wildcard berth and the 6th seed on tiebreakers.

 

The Northern Division also saw a new champion, as the Cleveland Ghosts improved from 5-9 in 1979 to 10-4 in 1980, denying the Detroit Gladiators the division title for the first time since 1975.  Their thunder and lightning backfield combo of rookie Jose Ortuno and veteran Ezekiel Dogwood gave defenses nightmares.  While Seattle, Texas, and Buffalo are considered the most likely contenders to make a title run, Cleveland is a popular pick to upset the three favorites.

 

1980.0.png

 

Playoff Previews:

 

Texas Stallions (11-3) vs San Diego Destroyers (8-6)

 

This matchup pits the Stallions against virtually the same defensive scheme that the Minnesota Angels used to defeat them in the Victory Bowl last year.  That being said, Texas is much better than it was last season, having cut down on turnovers by more than 20 percent, and while the Destroyers defense is one of the best in the league, but it still falls short of the 1979 Minnesota Angels.

 

San Diego’s defense may have an edge over Texas’s offense, but the Stallions defense should dominate the Destroyers offense.  Their best weapon is WR Rockie Bell, but expect the Stallions to double team him all day as they send LB Gary Brun to put pressure on QB Chris Dodd.

 

The Stallions should win this in a low-scoring contest.

 

Seattle Grizzlies (11-3) vs Colorado Centennials (8-6)

 

Despite the wide gap between the records of these two teams, this game is actually somewhat difficult to predict.  Colorado can be much better than their record indicates, but they have had serious problems closing out games, as can be seen by the fact that they blew fourth quarter leads 4 times this season.  Seattle, on the other hand, has struggled in the postseason, losing at home in the first round in each of the last three seasons.  Moreover, when the two teams met in week on Monday Night Football in week 9, the Cents won 27-17.  That game, however, took place on a snowy night in Denver, while this one will take place in the comfort of Seattle’s Emerald Dome.

 

The key to this game will be how quickly the Cents can get to Rob Connery.  The Colorado secondary isn’t bad, but if the Grizzlies receivers have time to get open, Connery will have a field day.  The Cents need to get to him quickly enough that he doesn’t have time to get comfortable, so the most important contest of the day will be between Colorado LB Bob Jonas and Seattle LT Gerald Feierabend.

 

Cleveland Ghosts (10-4) vs Washington Wasps (8-6)

 

The Wasps have been a powerhouse for years, but their age is starting to show.  31-year old DE Johnny Hill, who was at the center of the team’s recent Victory Bowl winning defenses has lost a step.  QB Steven Taylor is 33, and his passes lack the zip that they once had.  On the other hand, the team brings a great deal of experience to the game, and there is no question as to whether or not they can handle the pressure of the postseason.

 

Cleveland, on the other hand, is one of the youngest teams in the league.  RB Ezekiel Dogwood is 30, but all of their other key players are in their 20s, with many of them having fewer than 5 years of experience.  The team has a great deal of raw athleticism, and many sportswriters are questioning whether the Wasps can keep up with the Ghosts in a long, tightly-contested game.  The Ghosts secondary is also arguably the most talented in the league, which could take the ball out of Taylor’s hands.

 

The two teams met in October, where the Ghosts won 26-21 at home.  Expect another tight game.

 

Atlanta Rebels (10-4) vs Buffalo Stampeders (10-4)

 

Both of these teams will enter the postseason with a game that took place four weeks ago on their minds.  In week 11, the Rebels traveled to Buffalo and humiliated the Stampeders 37-7.  This time, the two teams will meet in Atlanta, with the Rebels looking to repeat the performance and the Stamps looking for revenge.

 

These are two very different teams.  The Stampeders have a dynamic offense, fueled by the triplets of QB Dick Katz, RB Jim Gore, and WR Frank Veenhuizen.  They can score from anywhere on the field, and have the tendency to get hot and put up a lot of points in a short period of time.

 

Conversely, Atlanta relies on a well-rounded team effort.  They don’t have a true superstar on either side of the ball, and their passing attack is one of the worst in the league.  But they are able to win by playing mistake-free ball, capitalizing on opponents’ errors, and chewing up the clock.

 

Despite the fact that Atlanta won such a big victory just a few weeks ago, Buffalo is the heavy favorite.  Sportswriters just don’t seem to be ready to take the upstart Rebels seriously yet.

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At long last! Sad to see the Firebirds regress, but now, the Buffalo relocation rumors get even more interesting given their on-field performance...

 

(Also I like how this two year break coincidentally allowed the PHL to catch up with the AFA-NFA and so we're all in 1980)

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*sigh* Another season, another forgettable performance for the Whales. I think they have now become the definition of irrelevant. But anyway it's good to have this be back. I know I've missed it. Looking forward to Rob Connery choking as usual.

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Only now running into this storyline, fantastic work. Looking forward to catching up!

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Could this finally be the Grizzlies' year?

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I think I'm starting to realize that some of these teams are tied to real life teams. The Wasps, for example, are the Steelers, because they dominated the 70s but start to fall off once the 80s come. The Grizzlies are the Bengals, because both could choke on an M&M.

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Walter Christopher Dodd has the battleship back in the playoffs. That's what I'm talking about.

I'm holding out hope for an upset in the Lone Star State...go Destroyers!

...speaking of franchise players that went at the top of the draft, I'm glad that Danson gets a chance to build the new Wolves with a top 2 pick. Anyone good up there this year?

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I think we see the Stallions take the VB this year.

 

Also, great to see this back up. I hope the baby has brought more joy into your life though, @Veras. Albeit, you could also see this league as your baby as well.

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C'mon Destroyers, lets bring a championship to America's Finest City.

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7 hours ago, Magic Dynasty said:

I think I'm starting to realize that some of these teams are tied to real life teams. The Wasps, for example, are the Steelers, because they dominated the 70s but start to fall off once the 80s come. The Grizzlies are the Bengals, because both could choke on an M&M.

Isn't it obvious?

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I've been lurking this thread since about the '73 season and I gotta say this has the be the best sports timeline I've ever read. Personally, I'd like to see Atlanta or San Diego win the Victory Bowl, but really, I'm just looking forward to cheering on the Crows come '81.

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I hope this doesn't sound pestering, but I never heard back about the stadium capacity thing. Did you post that somewhere and I didn't see it? My bad if you did. 

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Welcome aboard to both @omnivore and @Red Comet.  I'm glad to hear that you've both enjoying the thread, and I hope that this remains true as the story moves forward.

 

13 hours ago, Raymie said:

At long last! Sad to see the Firebirds regress, but now, the Buffalo relocation rumors get even more interesting given their on-field performance...

 

(Also I like how this two year break coincidentally allowed the PHL to catch up with the AFA-NFA and so we're all in 1980)

The Stampeders relocation is beginning to seem more and more likely.  Despite their on-field success, negotiations for a new stadium between the city and the team have broken off.  City officials have accused owner Sean Cooper of negotiating in poor faith, saying that he wants to move the team and has no interest in remaining in Western New York.  Meanwhile, it looks like a stadium with a retractable roof (which would be a first in American professional sports) is likely to be built in East Rutherford, NJ, on the site originally slated for construction with New Jersey's expansion bid.

 

13 hours ago, GreatBigGrizzly said:

*sigh* Another season, another forgettable performance for the Whales. I think they have now become the definition of irrelevant. But anyway it's good to have this be back. I know I've missed it. Looking forward to Rob Connery choking as usual.

For what it's worth, 7-7 isn't all that bad for a team in the 5th year of their existence.  The 8th seeded team in the playoffs went 8-6, so they're really quite close.

 

11 hours ago, Spanna65 said:

Could this finally be the Grizzlies' year?

Their 46 defense has definitely thrown opponents for a loop.  It's a new scheme in the AFA, and opponents have had a difficult time moving the ball on the ground against it.  Naturally, it is only a matter of time before the novelty wears off and other teams figure out how to beat it, so this may be their best chance.  Connery is in his prime, and he has a phenomenal supporting cast.

 

7 hours ago, Magic Dynasty said:

I think I'm starting to realize that some of these teams are tied to real life teams. The Wasps, for example, are the Steelers, because they dominated the 70s but start to fall off once the 80s come. The Grizzlies are the Bengals, because both could choke on an M&M.

8 minutes ago, Ipapterotes said:

Isn't it obvious?

 

I actually hadn't intended those parallels.  I definitely draw from real life for inspiration, which leads to some similarities between the real NFL and the AFA, with the most prominent example right now being Warren Moon/Reggie Hart.  But the Wasps-Steelers and Grizzlies-Bengals connections are purely coincidental.

 

3 hours ago, Cardinal said:

Finally the Ghosts broke through! ?

I'm honestly surprised it took this long.  They should have dominated the North last season, but just fell apart.  They shouldn't get too comfortable, though.  Chicago looks like a team on the rise, and even Cincinnati looked better this year than they have in the past, even if their record doesn't show it.

 

2 hours ago, generalshepherd141 said:

bold prediction: this is the Grizzlies' year, defeating Texas in the Victory Bowl. Also, all of the top 4 seeds advance to the semis.

Those are some interesting picks.  Seattle over Texas in the Victory Bowl is a fairly popular pick, but just about everybody has at least one visiting team managing an upset (with Buffalo over Atlanta being the most popular choice).

 

2 hours ago, ChicagoOakland said:

Walter Christopher Dodd has the battleship back in the playoffs. That's what I'm talking about.

I'm holding out hope for an upset in the Lone Star State...go Destroyers!

...speaking of franchise players that went at the top of the draft, I'm glad that Danson gets a chance to build the new Wolves with a top 2 pick. Anyone good up there this year?

The Destroyers have proven themselves to be a pretty tough team to beat.  It looks like their strategy of giving up extremely high picks for a greater number of first rounders has paid off.  Back to back playoff appearances in their first five years in the league.

 

The Wolves will actually be picking 5th this year.  Kansas City and Tampa will take the top 2 picks as expansion teams, while Arizona and Philadelphia will be ahead of Milwaukee on tiebreakers.  Still, 5th overall isn't too bad, and this is a fairly strong draft class, though there isn't a clear top pick.

 

Minnesota RB Gary Fryer, Washington ROLB Tom Barrett, Alabama State WR Jim Azira, and Missouri CB Lewis Cashmore are probably the most talented players in the class.  There are also two QBs who are likely to be taken in the top 5 or 10, Gary Benham (Florida) and Wesley Marx (Texas Tech).  Probably the most remarkable thing about the class is its depth at defensive back and wideout.  There will be cornerbacks that fall into the second round who could have been taken early in the first in a typical year.

 

2 hours ago, KittSmith_95 said:

I think we see the Stallions take the VB this year.

 

Also, great to see this back up. I hope the baby has brought more joy into your life though, @Veras. Albeit, you could also see this league as your baby as well.

Thanks, though the baby isn't quite here yet.  He is getting pretty close, it should be no more than another 3 weeks.

 

6 minutes ago, Uglybus said:

I hope this doesn't sound pestering, but I never heard back about the stadium capacity thing. Did you post that somewhere and I didn't see it? My bad if you did. 

Not pestering at all, I completely forgot about it.  Here you go.

 

Team Location Stadium Type Built F Year Lease Surface Capacity Rank
Aces St. Louis, MO New River Stadium Outdoor 1969 1969 1994 Autoturf 61,800 21
Angels St. Paul, MN Twin Cities Stadium Outdoor 1954 1954 1990 Grass 76,900 9
Butchers Chicago, IL Dever Stadium Outdoor 1929 1929 1994 Autoturf 69,850 16
Captains Boston, MA Kenmore Stadium Outdoor 1970 1970 1990 Grass 60,780 22
Centennials Denver, CO Rocky Mountain Stadium Outdoor 1960 1960 1995 Autoturf 80,000 4-T
Comets Los Angeles, CA Memorial Coliseum Outdoor 1923 1969 1984 Grass 92,604 1
Destroyers San Diego, CA Veterans Stadium Outdoor 1961 1976 1996 Grass 78,400 6
Dragons Portland, OR Oregon Dome Domed 1968 1968 1998 Autoturf 45,000 25
Firebirds Phoenix, AZ Sundome Domed 1976 1976 2001 Autoturf 52,500 23
Ghosts Cleveland, OH Charles Goodyear Stadium Outdoor 1974 1974 1999 Autoturf 72,350 13
Gladiators Sterling Heights, MI Autodome Domed 1965 1965 1990 Autoturf 50,000 24
Grizzlies Seattle, WA Emerald Dome Domed 1972 1972 2002 Autoturf 66,000 19
Guardians Cincinnati, OH Blakemore Stadium Outdoor 1967 1967 1992 Autoturf 71,250 15
Hurricanes Houston, TX Houston Stadium Outdoor 1957 1957 1989 Grass 78,200 8
Imperials Bronx, NY Imperial Coliseum Outdoor 1953 1953 1998 Autoturf 88,143 2
Krewe New Orleans, LA Huey P. Long Dome Domed 1976 1976 2006 Autoturf 72,450 12
Miners Pittsburgh, PA The Coal Fields Outdoor 1970 1970 1990 Tartan Turf 80,000 4-T
Railers Philadelphia, PA Knight Stadium Outdoor 1962 1962 1981 Autoturf 76,076 11
Rebels Atlanta, GA Austin Stadium Outdoor 1965 1968 1992 Grass 42,816 26
Royals Baltimore, MD Calvert Stadium Outdoor 1958 1967 1982 Autoturf 66,300 18
Stallions Dallas, TX Cotton Bowl Outdoor 1930 1967 1980 Autoturf 72,032 14
Stampeders Buffalo, NY Buffalo Stadium Outdoor 1961 1961 1981 Autoturf 76,550 10
Suns Miami, FL Miami Orange Bowl Outdoor 1937 1967 1982 Poly-Turf 80,045 3
Wasps Silver Spring, MD Keith Ellias Stadium Outdoor 1980 1980 2010 Grass 69,800 17
Whales San Francisco, CA Serra Stadium Outdoor 1954 1977 1997 Grass 78,254 7
Wolves Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Municipal Stadium Outdoor 1919 1960 1985 Poly-Turf 64,825 20

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Thank you so much! 

 

EDIT: What design quirks are there with the  alternate stadiums, such as being multipurpose, having athletic tracks, or anything else? Been thinking of drawing some up. 

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I who Majors will pick now, I hope that he'll right the ship of the Captains soon enough

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So, the first year of the Tommy Danson era is...well, a rebuilding year.  I trust it's always darkest right before dawn, though...

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Ah, the AFA is back! Been missing my weekly fix. In what I've been calling a new era in the league, it's nice to actually see some of these "other" teams finally break through. Atlanta in particular is intriguing. I noticed on that stadium chart that they have the lowest capacity by several thousand. I guess when you're irrelevant for so many years nobody cares, but what's their situation here now, and will this playoff appearance cause a desire for a bigger venue? 10 wins is still a big deal even if you limp into the playoffs.

 

I'm rooting for a Texas-Seattle VB matchup, I think that would be an exciting game.

 

I like your VB35 logo. Upon seeing it I immediately thought it was perfectly era-appropriate with that simple style seen in many logos of that time.

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59 minutes ago, MBurmy said:

So, the first year of the Tommy Danson era is...well, a rebuilding year.  I trust it's always darkest right before dawn, though...

update this please

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