A Pleasant Surprise
"The phenomenon has come as a total shock to me," John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of programming, said. "Of course, before we signed our contract with the AFL, I thought the whole league was a joke even though we did televise their games from time to time. I mean, come on. Eight men on the field with some two-way players, allowing one offensive player to get a running start before the ball is snapped, a 50-yard field, and being able to play the ball off the field goal nets? Those used to make arena football seem more like intramural flag football, but that all changed once ESPN and the AFL become partners. Now, I can honestly say arena football is the most exciting brand of professional football outside of ESPN's Monday Night Football, which can be seen right after ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. I have no doubt everyone will come to love arena football as much as ESPN have learned to."
In addition to ESPN executives like Skipper, ESPN radio and television personalities have also discovered newfound love for their employers' new programming baby. Mike Greenberg, an anchor on SportsCenter as well as co-host of Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio, claims he was blown away by the play on the field when he provided the play-by-play commentary for the first AFL game of the season when the New York Dragons took on the Dallas Desperadoes.
"Everything about that day was amazing," Greenberg said. "The crowd, the game, the atmosphere. Getting a chance to watch arena football in person and for ESPN really opened up my eyes to what a great sport it really is. If anyone ever has a chance to watch an arena football game on ESPN, he most definitely should do it. At least until ESPN's contract with the AFL ends."
Hoping to convince everyone to be amazed by the Arena Football League, ESPN have promised increased coverage of the sport because arena football is such a fun and exciting sport to watch and they only have their viewers' best interests at heart.