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Arena Football vanishes; Al Lucas' story remains

December 16, 2008 | 11:40 am


As we bid a fond adieu to Arena Football, the bearded lady of the gridiron, it's hard to believe a decade from now will bring many "remember the AFL" stories. The league was founded in 1987 and sputtered along for two decades before owners canceled the 2009 season this week. They vow to return a year from now, but the odds are long.

Al Lucas Its appeal titled toward the pro wrestling crowd and it survived to fill arena dates and time slots on ESPN. But, as with the World Football League, USFL and XFL before it discovered, people will watch only so much professional football and the NFL has a monopoly there.

So went this blip on the American sports scene, except for one tragic story: Al Lucas.

Lucas, a lineman for the Avengers, was severely injured during a 2005 game at Staples Center and was rushed to the hospital. He died of a spinal cord injury, the victim of an innocent looking tackle.

Lucas was a character-heavy person, who with better luck would have been in the NFL that season. Instead, 2,000 mourners packed an auditorium in Macon, Ga., to say goodbye. Speakers included Jesse Jackson and Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

The league won't be missed. Lucas has been.

-- Chris Foster

Top photo: : The day Al Lucas was buried, the Avengers' John Kaleo, left, and Greg Hopkins observed a moment of silence. Credit: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean

Inset: Al Lucas. Credit: The Avengers