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Guard, Cavalry step outside NIFL for title game

by Paul Reeths
July 13, 2007 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL)

Both Fayetteville Guard owner Richard King and Wyoming Cavalry Director of Business Operations Argeri Layton felt their teams deserved to see a conclusion to the season. It became clear that the National Indoor Football League would not provide one at terms they could accept. Rather than run the risk of trusting their postseason lives to the league, King and Layton took matters into their own hands.

The result is a match-up of two of the NIFL's three strongest teams from this past season in what is being billed as the Budweiser Professional Indoor Football Championship Game, pitting the undefeated Guard against the one-loss Cavalry. After both teams withdrew from the league last week, it is an unsanctioned title game, but likely will be the closest thing to a championship the league sees this year.

"In my opinion, there wasn't a league this whole year," said King. "We're guaranteeing there will be a championship. We're getting together the two best teams."

"It was the position we were put in," said Layton. "In order to provide a finale for our players and fans, we had to do this. With television and the title sponsorship, it has turned into something we could not have seen within the league."

The game will serve as a fitting conclusion to a tumultuous, disastrous season in the rapidly deteriorating NIFL. The campaign began with two-thirds of the NIFL's 25 teams being owned by league officials Cleveland Gary and Carolyn Shiver. By the middle of the season nearly all of them had ceased operating, and several others fell by the wayside later. Just over one-fourth of the league's scheduled games were actually played.

By the end of the season, only five teams - Fayetteville, Wyoming, San Diego, Beaumont and Greensboro - were still capable of hosting home games.

The Cavalry ended up playing just one of seven scheduled road games because none of the four Colorado-based teams that comprised the bulk of its road schedule was able to host an indoor game this season. Layton also had to scramble to fill three home dates with semi-pro competition.

"When all is said and done, it was a challenging season," said Layton. "We ended it strong, and we're ending it even stronger with this game. We tried to make the best of the situation for our fans and sponsors."

King publicly blamed meddling by league president Carolyn Shiver for the postponement of a home game earlier this year. The Guard played just four of seven scheduled road contests after opponents went out of business and had to foot the bills for several of its opponents.

"I've done everything in my power to keep this thing going," said King. "I've paid for every one of our opponents this season to come in except for Greensboro. That's one reason I don't believe there was a league this year."

The league denied rumors that it was trying to stop the game. NIFL Director of Operations Cleveland Gary said the league considers both teams as members of the NIFL, in spite of their resignations, and said this weekend's contest is a playoff game only, with the winner mandated to travel to San Diego for the sanctioned championship game.

The San Diego Shockwave finished with one loss after splitting the season series with Wyoming. Sources indicated that the Shockwave would have been included in a playoff scenario had it left the NIFL.

"According to the Team Participation Agreement, each team has a two-year non-compete agreement," said Gary. "This is an NIFL-sanctioned playoff game, not a championship, period. You can't resign from the NIFL. It's a mess, but we've got to untangle it and let the lawyers handle it."

Gary stated that according to the TPA, the league could seize control of either team if it refused to travel to San Diego.

"They can try to do what they want to do," said King. "I don't believe they have a leg to stand on. It would be a waste of time, energy and especially money."

For his part, King plans a "Goodbye, NIFL" party this weekend.

"We're glad we're leaving," he added. "We feel like we're moving on to bigger and better things."

The Budweiser Professional Indoor Football Championship Game will take place in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday night at 7:00 PM Eastern time.

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National Indoor Football League Stories from July 13, 2007

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