Arena Football League commissioner Jerry Kurz said Tuesday that a late-season flap about National Conference playoff seeding was much ado about nothing, but conceded that the tiebreaker in question “probably isn’t clear enough.”
Arizona erased any doubt by winning its regular-season finale to claim the West Division and No. 1 seed outright. The Rattlers (16-3) will entertain Spokane (15-4) for the National Conference title on Saturday.
However, had Arizona lost on July 27th the Rattlers and Shock would have ended with identical records and the third tiebreaker – record vs. common opponents – was questioned by Spokane majority owner Brady Nelson.
Nelson argued that it should have come down to winning percentage, giving the nod to Spokane (10-2) over Arizona (11-3), because the teams didn’t play the same number of games vs. common opponents.
Kurz said it was “determined internally” weeks before the matter surfaced publicly that it would be decided by number of games won, giving the edge to Arizona.
“It was clear and made clear by the league,” Kurz said. “There was never a question from the league side, no matter what internet bloggers say or certain owners say.”
Kurz said the decision was sent via email to league teams.
“Mr. Nelson has been one of our finest owners since his time in the af2 and AFL,” Kurz said. “He’s one of our best contributors and serves on many committees. He said he did not see the ruling from the league and that may be true, we send out a zillion emails, but I believe he was incorrect in his position.”
Nelson, who was fined for his comments on the topic 11 days ago, said Tuesday, “I never received word that it was over but maybe I wasn’t paying attention because we were still two games behind Arizona so it wasn’t something we paid too close attention to. We thought the likelihood of them slipping up twice at the end was very low.”
Kurz also disputed an Arizona Republic report on the day before the Rattlers’ last regular season game. Asked by reporter Richard Obert if the top seed had been locked up, Kurz said, “Ask me that question after Saturday’s game.”
Kurz said Tuesday, “I like Mr. Obert, but he misquoted me.” Obert said in an email that Kurz was quoted accurately.
Regarding the third tiebreaker, Kurz said it’ll likely be discussed at league meetings next week but added that he doesn’t have a vote.
“Should it be clarified? Perhaps,” he said. “It’s open for interpretation. It probably isn’t clear enough. Because it wasn’t clear enough the league issued a ruling weeks before” the regular season ended.