Some interesting numbers relative to the AFL -
AND STILL THE BEST HELMET - The Minnesota Fighting PikeThe NFL is king in the United States. It's the biggest business in the country, and every time a league has cropped up to try to challenge or work alongside the NFL, it has failed and failed miserably. The XFL played just 43 games before folding. The UFL only managed 52. The WFL and USFL were by far the two most successful secondaries football leagues with 185 and 413 games played. Professional football at the highest level is generally a monopoly.
It's amazing to think that those four aforementioned leagues combined to kick the ball off 693 times between them. That, in and of itself, shows what an accomplishment it is for the Arena Football League to be playing its 3,000th game on Friday night when the 29th season kicks off at Amalie Arena between the Tampa Bay Storm and the Orlando Predators. Here are some other notable numbers from the league's first 2,999 games.
1 - The number of shutouts in the history of the AFL. To record a shutout in the modern game would seem to be impossible, but it wasn't unbelievable for the 1992 Orlando Predators, who had one of the best defense in league history. That year, the Preds shutout the San Antonio Force 50-0 in the one and only shutout to date out of 2,999 games.
2 - The number of played games which have ended in ties in the AFL. The league removed the concept of a tie several years ago, but it happened twice prior. The Nashville Kats and Dallas Desperados played a scoreless overtime period in 2005, while the 1988 Chicago Bruisers and Los Angeles Cobras left knotted at 37 in the final game of the regular season.
23 - The number of times in league history that a team blew out another by 50+ points. Even though close games are always the most entertaining, there's something special about watching one team complete dismantle another in a show of true force. Most recently, the San Jose SaberCats destroyed the Spokane Shock 83-28 in 2015. The biggest blowout ever amongst the 2,999 AFL games? The Albany Firebirds crunched the Texas Terror 86-24 in 1996, a whopping margin of 62 points.
28 - The number of ArenaBowls the league has had since the inaugural season in 1987. Only a total of 13 teams won the 28 championships. The Tampa Bay Storm still hold the record with five titles, but they're now sharing that mark with the Arizona Rattlers, who have won three of the last four titles and are clearly amongst the favorites to add to that mark this year.
58 - The total number of franchises the AFL has had over the years. Many of the franchises don't make a lot of sense, notably the Memphis Pharaohs/Portland Forest Dragons/Oklahoma Wranglers team. Only one franchise has made it from the dawn of the AFL through its present without missing an active season, that being the Pittsburgh Gladiators/Tampa Bay Storm franchise, a team which has played 426 games all on its own, more than any of other secondary leagues have played when considering all of their teams.
78 - The number of games in a row Damian Harrell scored a touchdown, easily the most in the history of the AFL. There's always a chance that that record could be broken, but you'll never see anything like that in the outdoor game. Harrell topped out with 60 touchdowns in 2006 with the Colorado Crush, and he's one of the main reasons why they won the ArenaBowl in 2005.
99 - The most points scored in a single by a team in a game AFL history. The New York Dragons came the closest to dropping 100 back in 2001 when they completely crippled the Carolina Cobras 99-68. New York had a chance to go for 100 in the game after scoring a TD on the last play, but it elected to kick the extra point instead.
180 - The number of games which have been decided by a single point in AFL history. When you consider how high-scoring the games are at this level, the fact that right at 6% of the games are decided by the slimmest of margins is amazing. In the NFL, as an example, is just 4.27%.
202 - The number of playoff games the AFL has played in its history. This year, there will be seven more games to add to the bunch with all eight teams getting into the playoffs, the first time in league history that has happened.
211 - The number of victories in the coaching career of the late great Tim Marcum, the most for any coach in the history of this great league. It's strange to think of the 2,999 games, Marcum won over 7% of them across his illustrious career. Only five coaches in NFL history have more wins than Marcum, and no one is even remotely close to his mark now amongst active AFL coaches. Kevin Guy is the closest with 104.
1,336 - The number of touchdown passes Aaron Garcia threw in his illustrious AFL career. You hate to say "never" with something, but there probably won't be another man in the history of football with over 1,300 touchdown passes in his career. Garcia played in 236 career games, almost 8% of the 2,999 games in the league.
1,478 - The number of games in AFL history which have had at least 100 points scored. The number of games in NFL history with at least 100 points scored? Four.
295,823 - The total number of points scored in the AFL since the ball first bounced off a net in 1987. The average league game has featured 98.6 points per game. Not only will the AFL turn 3,000 games old this year, but somewhere along the way, the league will also log its 300,000th point.
31,303,009 - The number of fans who have come through the turnstiles of all of the games in league history. The AFL can boast that it has had at least 1,000,000 fans in 18 consecutive seasons dating back to 1996, topping out with the 2,019,435 fans who witness games live in 2007.