Back with a Shock notebook. The first item is on Shock OL Rob McMackin, whose brother, Shawn, plays for the Chicago Rush, Spokane’s opponent on Friday in the Arena. Unfortunately, Shawn, an offensive lineman who moved to fullback a few weeks ago, hurt his knee last week and is sidelined for the rest of the season.
Read on for more on the McMackins, the playoff picture and the arrival of the 2009 ArenaCup championship rings.
By Jim Meehan
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The McMackin family reunion will go on, just not quite as planned.
Back in March, they thought it would happen in Chicago, where Rob McMackin and younger brother Shawn, were offensive linemen for the Rush. But five days before the Arena Football League season opener, Spokane needed an offensive lineman and Chicago needed a defensive back so the Shock acquired Rob in exchange for Chris Martin.
The trade foiled the brothers’ hopes of being on the same team, and possibly starting side-by-side, for the first time.
“That was my whole incentive for going back there,” said Rob, who played for the Rush in 2008. “Everything happened so fast, but luckily when they said Spokane, I had teammates that I played with on the L.A. Avengers (Clay Harrell and Branden Hall) that were with Spokane. I got on the phone immediately and they had nothing but good things to say.”
The Shock (12-2) and Rush (10-5) are playoff bound and the brothers have been mainstays on their respective lines. A while back, they decided to get their dad a special Father’s Day gift: A trip to Spokane for the Shock-Rush game Friday. Dad’s still coming out from New Jersey, but Shawn’s season ended last week with a knee injury. He’ll remain in Chicago.
“We couldn’t imagine anything better, for him to see his two sons play,” Rob said. “He’s going to be in the same hotel as Chicago’s team, so he would have been close to Shawn. He’s coming in Thursday, but instead of wearing a half Shock, half Rush shirt it’ll be all Shock.”
The 28-year-old Rob didn’t play with Shawn, who will turn 26 in December, back in high school. When Rob was a senior, Shawn was a freshman, and freshman weren’t allowed to play on varsity. Both McMackins are listed at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, but Rob said, “I’m a little bigger. I have the long hair, he has the shaved head.”
Rob went on to play at Towson University; Shawn played for Hofstra. Another younger brother, Ryan, is a freshman lineman at Massachusetts.
“Maybe I’ll play long enough to be on the same team with him,” Rob said.
It was a wild week last week for nearly everyone in the AFL – except Spokane.
The Shock took care of business, defeating Iowa. Elsewhere, upsets and injuries cleared and clouded the postseason picture. Spokane’s next two foes, Chicago and Jacksonville, lost starting quarterbacks Russ Michna (broken rib) and Aaron Garcia (shoulder, concussion) to injuries.
Chicago’s loss to woeful Dallas means Spokane has clinched the right to host the first two rounds in the playoffs. The Shock can wrap up hosting rights throughout the playoffs with a home win over the Rush. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Michna is out for the season, but Spokane has heard conflicting reports. J.J. Raterink, who was traded during Spokane’s 2006 training camp, is Michna’s backup.
Spokane, Chicago, Milwaukee and Arizona have clinched National Conference playoff berths, but seedings haven’t been finalized.
In the American Conference, backup quarterback Bernard Morris led Jacksonville past Tampa Bay. Both teams are 10-4, but Jacksonville swept the season series and owns the tiebreaker.
Jacksonville, which entertains Spokane in the regular-season finale, has an outside shot at hosting throughout the playoffs. The Sharks would have to win their last two games, including a victory by at least 11 points over the Shock, while Spokane goes 0-2. That would leave both teams 12-4 with a split in the season series. The next tiebreaker is point differential and Spokane defeated the Sharks 67-57 in May.
Championship rings for Spokane’s 2009 ArenaCup team arrived Tuesday, ending an impasse that sprouted when arenafootball2 went dark and the new AFL was being reconstructed.
“Relieved would be an understatement, but I’m also excited for the guys,” Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said. “It’s something they can look at and say they did it.”
Shock ownership, with the assistance of AFL commissioner and former af2 president Jerry Kurz, “found a middle ground of what was owed and what we’re paying” Chicago-based J. Lewis Small Company, Nelson said.
Funds that were expected to cover costs of the rings had already been spent elsewhere (playoff bonuses, playoff travel, etc.) when the bill from the jewelry company arrived and there was no af2 to pay for it, Nelson said.
Spokane is mailing rings to 2009 players no longer living in the area. The AFL is paying for 2010 Arena Bowl championship rings, Kurz said. “There’s no obligation to do so, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley, who tossed six touchdown passes against Iowa, was named the offensive player of the week. … The Shock signed Tito Hannah, a defensive end who played af2 for Arkansas in 2008 and South Georgia in 2009. Hannah had 12.5 sacks for the Twisters.