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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 14, 2019 9:00 pm

National Gridiron League delays start of season

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The National Gridiron League, a fledgling indoor football league with a team based in Fort Wayne, will be pushing the start of its season back by about a month and shortening the number of games from 16 to 12. The number of home games for each team will be reduced from eight to six.

Fort Wayne's team, the Indiana Blue Bombers, was originally scheduled to open its inaugural season on April 6 and play its first game at Memorial Coliseum on April 13. Instead, the Blue Bombers will open their season at home on May 5, according to Coliseum executive vice president Randy Brown. 

The Blue Bombers' online schedule had not been updated when the Journal Gazette went to print, so it is unclear whether any other games have been moved or rescheduled.

The move to shorten the season and push back the date of the first games comes in large part because league officials decided that there hadn't been enough time to market the teams to their fanbases, which are in such disparate areas of the country as Fort Wayne and Beaumont, Texas. 

"The worst thing we could do is rush it and operationally, it wasn’t the right presentation," league president Joe McClendon told the Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville also has a team, the Indiana Firebirds). "Could we have done it (started on time)? Yes, but that’s not the approach I felt like we should use. I didn’t feel comfortable with that."

McClendon did not return phone calls from the Journal Gazette requesting comment.

Brown said the league president had given him the same explanation on a conference call earlier this week. The Coliseum is prepared to accommodate the change in scheduling, according to Brown.

"As I told Mr. McClendon, I think it's more important to do it right than it is to do it fast," Brown said. "I think it's more important to make sure they're putting a good product on the field."

The Blue Bombers have had a somewhat rocky beginning in Fort Wayne. The schedule changes come on top of revelations that the Bombers had signed a player who had been falsely representing himself as a member of the Miami Dolphins on social media prior to March 2017. The player was subsequently removed from the roster.

The Journal Gazette also reported that Blue Bombers head coach Kelvin Kinney, a former NFL player, has a felony for workplace compensation fraud and several misdemeanors on his record. Kinney remains the team's head coach.