Storm Looks for Revenge and Respect in Orlando

Sam Sez

Sam Wolfson
Contributing Editor

June 25, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - If Friday night's game in Orlando against the Storm's arch-rivals, the Predators, was an episode of Sesame Street, they would say that it was brought to us by the letter "R."

As we all know, the Orlando-Tampa Bay series is the biggest rivalry in Arena Football. The games between these two teams are usually exciting and down to the wire. Regardless of the final score, games between these two teams are always wars. Nobody will argue the fact that these two teams don't like each other very much. Every game between these two teams always seems to have more than the usual amount of pushing and shoving after the whistle. While the all-time series is tied at 8 wins apiece, Tampa Bay has 4 championships to Orlando's none.

Last time these two teams met, the game was not as close as usual. Orlando waltzed into Tampa Bay's brand new Ice Palace and proceeded to demolish the Storm 44-17. The Storm never even had a chance to get into the game. Orlando's All-Everything Barry Wagner intercepted Storm quarterback Peter Tom Willis on the game's opening play and returned it for a touchdown. The loss was the Storm's first of the season, and sent the team into a nosedive, as they lost 3 of their next 4. The Storm will have a chance to return the favor Friday night in Orlando. Despite Orlando's excellent record (6-2), they have struggled at home this season, barely squeaking by some of the league's less-than-fearsome teams.

For the first time since their debut in 1991, the Storm is lacking some respect. Tampa Bay does not have the aura of invincibility surrounding it that it once had. The Storm has struggled throughout the season, rather than plowing through it as they have in the past. In the past, if a team like New York came into Tampa Bay with a 2-5 record, the Storm would beat the living bejeezus out of them. Instead, the Storm merely coasted to a 27-9 victory. Make no mistake, after three straight games in the "L" column, any win was more than welcome. If the Storm is able to beat one of the league's best teams in their own arena, it will certainly go a long way regaining the respect of the league. The Storm is the definition of a champion in the Arena Football League, and the true test of a champion is to see how he responds when he gets knocked down. Friday night we will find out what this team is truly made of.

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