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05/04/99 - For the third time since the start of the preseason and the fifth time in the last year, the Storm has lost a player to a one-year suspension. WR/DB Alvoid Mays was suspended by the league on Monday for one full season. As is always the case with such suspensions, no league or team officials may comment on the nature of the ban. Mays, a former member of the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers, did not have an incredibly productive career with the Storm. He was deactivated in ten of 17 games in 1998 and did not play in the Week Two game at Milwaukee this season. He caught seven passes for 73 yards in his Storm career, including two for 16 against Albany in Week One. Although he dropped what could have been the game-tying touchdown pass on the final play aganst Albany, he still turned in the most productive game of his career, supplementing the two receptions with four total tackles, two passes defensed and his first AFL interception. The Storm's other suspensions came last July, for Cedric McKinnon and Wayne Walker, and in April, for linemen Keo Coleman and Mark Gunn.

04/29/99 - QB Peter Tom Willis threw six touchdown passes, including three to OS George LaFrance, as the Storm overcame 58 yards' worth of penalties to defeat the Milwaukee Mustangs, 49-42 in front of a sparse home opening night crowd at the Bradley Center on Thursday night. Tampa Bay bolted out to a 28-7 lead in the second quarter on the strength of three Willis touchdown passes and a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown by WR/LB Stevie Thomas. However, Milwaukee took advantage of two failed Storm drives late in the second quarter and several penalties to pull within 28-27 early in the second half. The Mustangs drew no closer, though, as the Storm managed to score on the ensuing possession and hold Milwaukee at bay for the rest of the game, finally managing to run out the clock on three Les Barley runs in the final 30 seconds. Game Coverage

04/24/99 - In an ending that marked the reverse of every other Firebird trip to Tampa Bay, a potential game-tying touchdown pass from Peter Tom Willis fell in and out of the hands of a Storm receiver---in this case, Alvoid Mays, and the clock ran out as Albany escaped with a 49-42 win in front of an announced gathering of 10,436 at the Ice Palace on Saturday night. The game came down to one play thanks to some confounding clock management in the final minute by the Storm. After Willis completed an eight-yard pass to Lawrence Samuels to the two-yard-line of Albany, the Storm let 15 seconds run off the clock, in spite of having one timeout remaining. By the time the Storm managed to stop the clock by virtue of Willis spiking the ball down, there were only five seconds left. On the incomplete pass to Mays, it appeared that there should have been at least one second remaining on the clock. However, the clock ran down to zero, and referee Buddy Ward declared the game over. Were it not for a poor defensive showing by the Storm, though, the game would not have come down to such urgent circumstances. Tampa Bay allowed the Firebirds to roll up 390 total yards, including 369 off the arm of Mike Pawlawski, and let the Firebirds score on seven of 11 possessions. Game Coverage

04/23/99 - Two key pistons in the Storm's engine, linemen Robert "Pig" Goff and Willie Wyatt, re-joined the team Friday and were activated from the Refused to Report list. Wyatt, as is his custom in recent years, missed training camp due to job commitments at a high school in Adamsville, Ala. Goff, on the other hand, missed training camp due to his duty as an extra on the set of the Oliver Stone movie On Any Given Sunday. The Storm had been carrying 23 players on the active roster prior to Friday, so to make room, the Storm was forced to remove one player from the active roster. That man is Jason Dulick, he of the phenomenal preseason. He will be placed on injured reserve with an injury to his right knee. The injury kept Dulick out of practice during the latter half of this week leading up to the season opener with Albany on Saturday night.

04/18/99 - The Storm complied with the league's 5:00 p.m. EDT roster deadline Monday, waiving five players and placing three more on the injured reserve list. Getting the boot from the Storm were WR Pokey Eckford, OL/DL Casey Gamble, WR/DB Alundis Brice, OL/DL Booker Pickett and WR/DB Derrick Beatty. Making the active roster were three players signed to the team just hours before the preseason tilt last Friday at Florida---WR/DB Derrick Atterberry, DS Carl Greenwood and FB/LB Vidal Mills. In addition, the Storm signed Tony Plantin, a 6-5, 300-pound rookie from Clemson, and immediately placed him on the active roster. The Storm placed two Arena League rookies on the injured reserve list---FB/LB Steve Lee, who hurt his ankle in the preseason opener with Orlando, and WR/DB Tony Covington, a former member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks. Half of the 24 on the active roster are AFL rookies. In addition to Atterberry, Greenwood, Mills and Plantin, the newcomers are: OL/DL Johnie Church, WR/DB Melvin Cunningham, WR/DB Jason Dulick, DS Tommy Henry, K Matt Huerkamp, OL/DL Tony Plantin, QB Josh Wallwork, OL/DL Rod Williams and OS Charles Wilson. Current Roster

04/16/99 - The Tampa Bay Storm finished the pre-season at .500 with a 49-44 win over the Florida Bobcats at the National Car Rental Center. The Bobcats were one yard away from the win until FB/LB Les Barley ran Florida FB/LB Michael McClenton out of bounds as time expired. Peter Tom Willis turned in a strong first-half performance, connecting on 13 of 20 passes for 211 yards and five touchdowns. Two of the scores went to Stevie Thomas, who led the team with 89 yards on five receptions. Tampa Bay has never lost to the franchise since it moved to South Florida in 1993, winning all 11 regular season encounters and both preseason ones. Game Coverage

04/10/99 - For two and a half quarters Saturday night, it seemed that the Storm and Predators had picked up where they left off last August in ArenaBowl XII. Tampa Bay was making numerous mistakes, and Orlando was gleefully capitalizing, forging a 39-14 lead. From there, the destructive pattern was broken, as AFL rookies Josh Wallwork, Pokey Eckford and Johnie Church spearheaded a stirring comeback. Wallwork passed for 107 yards and a score, Eckford ran a missed field goal back 56 yards for a touchdown and Church had two sacks on one possession, helping Tampa Bay score 25 unanswered points to tie the game at 39-39 with 1:57 left. However, the result was ultimately unpleasant, as Orlando QB Braniff Bonaventure hit WR/LB Ty Law on a crossing pattern with five seconds left to give the Preds a 45-39 win on Saturday night. Orlando tortured the Storm on the ground, as FB/LBs Bill Hall, Jeff Cothran and Rick Hamilton combined for 64 yards on 13 carries. The Storm had its share of self- inflicted wounds, as well, turning the ball over six times. Game Coverage

04/09/99 - It has been a long wait, but the time has finally arrived.

The Tampa Bay Storm's ninth season gets underway on Friday night at 7:40pm EDT at the Ice Palace. The Storm will take on the 1998 ArenaBowl Champion Orlando Predators in the first preseason game of 1999.

Although the two teams meet twice every season, this is also a rematch of ArenaBowl XII, a game that most Storm fans would prefer to forget, since the Preds beat the Storm 62-31. Tampa Bay defeated Orlando twice during the regular season, 42-34 at the O-rena on June 12 and 56-30 on June 27 at the Ice Palace. The regular/postseason series is tied at 10-10, including 2-2 in the playoffs. The Storm did win ArenaBowl IX in 1995 over the Predators by the score of 45-30.

Tickets for the preseason game are genral admission, and proceeds benefit the Hillsborough Education Foundation.

03/27/99 - With $40 in their hands and a passel of dreams in their pockets, 148 men, all afflicted with the dreamer's disease, showed up at Pepin-Rood Stadium on the University of Tampa campus Saturday afternoon to take a chance on becoming the next George Plimpton and making the journey from Everyman to football hero. Approximately 150 diehards, including several yellow-clad members of the Storm Krew, were on hand to observe the proceedings.

With a few straggling in as late as 45 minutes after the 3:00 starting time, the coaches divided the 148 hopefuls into three groups, rotating them through shuttle run, broad jump and 40-yard dash stations. From there, they moved into football-related drills, with prospective receivers and defensive backs catching passes from potential quarterbacks. All the while, a small cadre of kickers manned the patch of grass at the south end of the field, practicing their craft.

In addition to the Storm's coaching staff, who watched, timed and scribbled notes about the candidates, Storm FB/LB Steve Lee and OL/DL Sylvester Bembery observed with a watchful eye from the sidelines. Also on hand was former Storm FB/LB Tony Jones, who will take the field for the expansion Buffalo Destroyers this season.

With or without any of the optimists, who left with a commemorative Tampa Bay Storm shirt (which, incidentally, did not read, "I tried out for the Storm and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"), training camp will open next Saturday morning. The team will practice for seven days in advance of the April 10 preseason opener at the Ice Palace against Orlando.

03/25/99 - Following in the footsteps of DS Corey Dowden, Johnnie Harris has decided to take a shot at the NFL. The 1998 AFL Defensive Player of the Year recently signed with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders' head coach is John Gruden, who happens to be the brother of Jay Gruden, the former Storm QB and head coach of the Orlando Predators. Harris' style of defensive play is similar to that employed by other Raiders defensive backs, which gives him an edge at making the team.

In other moves, Mel Agee, Jocelyn Borgella, Alan Campos Harold Gragg and Brett Williams have been placed on the exempt list. The Storm also signed QB Josh Wallwork, who played his college ball at the University of Wyoming.

03/13/99 - With the new year, we felt it was time to finally upgrade our site. Gone are the graphics-laden menus and invisible tables of the past. Instead, we have opted to use frames, which have been part of the WWW specifications for several years now. With the redesign, we decided upon two things:

  • 100% HTML 4.0 compliance.
  • New features.
What does that mean to you?

As far as HTML compliance, it is probably meaningless to most of you. All you really need to know is that TSS is best viewed with version 4.0 or greater of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator. (Although we have been avid users of Netscape, IE actually is currently more accurate and compliant with the HTML 4.0 specifications, which is why we must recommend using IE to view this site). The reason why? We have implemented the use of cascading style sheets and Javascript, which we are sure will enhance your visit.

And the new features? We have added a completely new section to the website which we call TSS Interactive. Most of our regular readers know about our guestbook, but we have added a message board, chat room, and even an e-mail newsletter in our interactive section. We plan on adding even more new features to the site throughout the season, including fan polls and trivia games.

One last thing. The photo galleries have been taken down. We are working on creating a faster way for them to be viewed, as some of the pictures can be quite large. As soon as we are done, the galleries will be put back up.

Following in the footsteps of DS Corey Dowden, Johnnie Harris has decided to take a shot at the NFL. The 1998 AFL Defensive Player of the Year recently signed with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders' head coach is John Gruden, who happens to be the brother of Jay Gruden, the former Storm QB and head coach of the Orlando Predators. Harris' style of defensive play is similar to that employed by other Raiders defensive backs, which gives him an edge at making the team.

In other moves, Mel Agee, Jocelyn Borgella, Alan Campos Harold Gragg and Brett Williams have been placed on the exempt list. The Storm also signed QB Josh Wallwork, who played his college ball at the University of Wyoming.

02/22/99 - The Tampa Bay Storm placed FB/LB Alan Campos and OL/DL Harold Gragg on the exempt list.

02/08/99 - Months of rampant speculation ended Monday afternoon when the National Football League and the Arena Football League announced a plan for the NFL to purchase up to 49.9 percent stake in the twelve-year-old AFL. The deal gives the NFL a three-year time frame in which it has the option to evaluate and purchase a minority share of the AFL. In order for the NFL to consummate the purchase, 24 out of 31 NFL owners must approve.

However, the league's owners have already looked favorably on Arena Football involvement. Last May 22, the league's owners approved a plan which would allow NFL owners to purchase Arena Football teams. The resolution marked a significant step for the NFL, as its bylaws had previously forbidden cross-ownership with any other sport by any incumbent owner. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson soon utilized the new freedom to purchase an AFL expansion team for the New Orleans Arena that will make its first kickoff in April 2000.

"Our goal is to support football at all levels," said NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in a release. "An interest in the Arena Football League would enhance our stake in the future of the game, both in the United States and internationally."

02/06/99 - The Storm filled two major holes by turning to familiar faces, re-acquiring K Bjorn Nittmo and FB/LB Les Barley from the Buffalo Destroyers in exchange for future considerations. Both were left unprotected by the Storm last fall and were taken by the Destroyers in the expansion draft.

Barley, the team's Ironman of the Year and the league's all-time leading rusher with 1,171 career yards, was second-team all-Arena Football League in 1998 after his most succe