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The Orlando Apollos deserved better than the Alliance of American Football 

A Greek tragedy

Page 3 of 3

click to enlarge Scott Orndoff and Sean Price, Orlando Apollos tight ends, in better days - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ALLIANCE OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL
  • Photo courtesy of The Alliance of American Football
  • Scott Orndoff and Sean Price, Orlando Apollos tight ends, in better days

In August, before AAF teams had chosen their mascots, Spurrier was excited.

"I think we can put a really good product on the field. I'm watching all these NFL games right now and half the guys are playin' in the preseason, they're gonna get cut and they're gonna be wantin' to play in our league," Spurrier told Orlando Weekly.

Asked whether fans should be patient, Spurrier sounded frustrated. "No, they shouldn't be patient. Three weeks is plenty of time to put a good football team together," Spurrier said, referring to the AAF's training camp that winter.

He did put a good football team together.

The Apollos came out hot and stayed that way, going undefeated through the first five weeks of the season. Gilbert was the best passer in the league. Wide receiver Charles Johnson accumulated 45 catches for 687 yards and five touchdowns, and defensive back Keith Reaser recorded three interceptions.

That was good enough for them to parlay their eight weeks in the AAF into NFL contracts: Gilbert signed with the Cleveland Browns. Johnson and Reaser have gone to the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively. Several other AAF players made a similar jump. For many of them, the developmental league offered a second chance to show their stuff.

But not everyone will go to football's majors.

"A lot of guys were hurt by this," says Sean Price, a former tight end with the Apollos who played at the University of South Florida. "Leaving the [last team] meeting, it was very emotional for some people. They just didn't account for other people's living situations. It's just not – it's just not fair."

Price moved his girlfriend and child to Central Florida from Colorado Springs, where he was an intramural sports director for soldiers and families at a military base. Like all players in the AAF, he signed a three-year deal. The league didn't live up to its word, he says.

"I mean, I just felt betrayed," Price says. "It was a great league. I loved the way the league was set up and all the opportunities that had been given to us. But just to take it away seems very disrespectful, very childish. It seems that they had the funds in place. They just had some upper management issues that nothing to do with the players."

As Price continues training, he's keeping an eye toward the next iteration of the XFL. He's also considering taking legal action against the AAF, perhaps joining Schmidt and Northrup's lawsuit.

"To just have [the league] dismantled while we're at a practice like that, it's crazy," Price says. "So hopefully this lawsuit, or whoever else, can see it through that what they did was wrong and they should pay out these athletes and coaches for the time, for the contract that they had."

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