Orlando Predators

Last updated
Orlando Predators
Established 1991
Folded 2016
Played in Amway Center
in Orlando, Florida
OrlandoPredators.com
League/conference affiliations
Arena Football League (19912016)
  • National Conference (1993–2008)
  • American Conference (2010–2016)
Team colorsBlack, red, gold, white
    
Nicknames Preds
MascotKlaw
Personnel
Owner(s) David A. Siegel
PresidentJared Saft
General managerMichael DiJulio
Team history
  • Orlando Predators (1991–2016)
Championships
League championships (2)
Conference championships (1)
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
Division championships (9)
Playoff appearances (23)
Home arena(s)

The Orlando Predators were a professional arena football team based in Orlando, Florida and member of the Arena Football League (AFL). The team was most recently owned by Orlando Predators LLC, a company owned by David A. Siegel, and played its home games at Amway Center.

Contents

The team was founded in 1991 as an expansion team of the AFL. The team advanced to the playoffs 19 consecutive seasons between 1992 and 2011, becoming the ArenaBowl champions in 1998 and 2000 during that span. The team suspended operations after the 2016 season. A new organization led by former Predator Kenny McEntyre obtained the Predators branding and relaunched the team in the National Arena League for the 2019 season.

History

Early years (1991–1997)

There was interest in arena football in Orlando as early as 1987, with a group looking to place an AFL team in central Florida in time for the 1988 season. [1] But more than three years would go by until the Orlando Predators franchise was finally secured by Davey Johnson, Tracy Allen and Mike McBath on February 14, 1991. [2] The Preds began play that same year but missed the playoffs, the only time the club would do so until 2012. In just their second season in 1992, they advanced to ArenaBowl VI, [3] only to fall to the Detroit Drive, who won their fourth title in five years. Annually among the league-leaders in attendance, they qualified for the playoffs in 18 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the original AFL. One noted administrator for the Predators was Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman, Jack Youngblood, who came to the Predators in 1995 as vice-president and then later, president of the organization. He was with the team through the 1999 season.

Gruden era / Two titles in four years (1998–2008)

For much of their existence in the original AFL, their head coach was Jay Gruden, younger brother of prominent National Football League coach Jon Gruden and who would go on to coach the NFL's Washington Redskins. Jay Gruden was formerly an outstanding Arena Football quarterback, leading the Tampa Bay Storm to four ArenaBowl championships, and then served one year as offensive coordinator for the Nashville Kats prior to becoming head coach of the Predators. Jay was the first quarterback in the AFL Hall of Fame. Orlando won the ArenaBowl in 1998 and 2000 under Gruden's coaching. He then attempted a comeback as a player, but subsequently returned to coaching following the death of his head coach replacement, Fran Papasedero, in a car accident.

The Predators were one of the premier franchises in the history of the original AFL, and had a rivalry with Tampa Bay, who moved to Tampa the same year the Predators formed. They met twice in the ArenaBowl, with Tampa Bay winning in 1995 and Orlando winning in 1998. The rivalry, nicknamed the "War on I-4" after the interstate that connects the two cities, intensified when Gruden took over as Orlando's head coach.

Orlando and Tampa Bay each lasted longer in their markets than any other AFL franchise have, As of 2019. The Predators were unique in that they had played in their previous venue, Amway Arena, for 18 seasons in the AFL, longer than any other team. Amway Arena was often nicknamed "The Jungle" during Predators games due to the hostile environment from the fans, harsh smoke that filled the arena during the players intro, and a Guns N' Roses song which "welcomed" other teams. They shared Amway Arena with the Orlando Magic of the NBA and the Orlando Titans of the NLL. The 2010 season was the Predators' 19th and final season at Amway Arena. The team moved to Amway Center, the new arena in Orlando, for the 2011 season. A Predators game was the final sporting event ever performed at Amway Arena.

The team's mascot was a monster-like human named Klaw who looked much like the alien (Predator) from the Predator films, with only different coloring.

The Predators played in the ArenaBowl a total of seven times. If the Pittsburgh Gladiators' two ArenaBowl games before they moved to Tampa Bay are included, the Storm was the only franchise that played in more (eight; six as the Storm).

During the 2007 season, the Predators inaugurated the "Predator Fan Hall of Fame". The inaugural inductees were Nancy Morris and Richard Grabe. Morris, was a superfan for over 20 years, was known to most of the team and the front office as "The PredMom", and was the president of the Orlando Predator In Your Face Fan Club. Grabe, who also was a superfan (starting in 1991), was the creator of the "PredHeads" that were seen being worn by a select group of fans that sat in section 113 of the old Amway Arena. They were also known for their tailgating parties on "Predator Island" (located in the northeast corner of lot 4 of the Centroplex). After moving to the new Amway Center, the majority of "PredHeads" sat in section 114, and tailgated under I-4 in lot 9.

Revival of AFL (2010–2016)

Predators mascot, Klaw, in 2007 Klaw (Orlando Predators) (cropped).jpg
Predators mascot, Klaw, in 2007

The Predators maintained their organization and web presence after the AFL suspended operations in August 2009. On September 28, 2009, the Predators announced their return to play for the 2010 season as a member of the new Arena Football 1 league, until that league purchased the AFL's assets and assumed the AFL's history. [4] With Jay Gruden obligated to the UFL by his contract with the Tuskers, eventually becoming the team's head coach, they hired former quarterback Pat O'Hara as their head coach for the 2010 season. [5] When the schedule for the league's season was announced on December 31, 2009, the Predators were slated to return to action on April 9, 2010. [6] In the 2010 season, the Predators finished with an 8–8 record. They qualified for the playoffs, but lost the conference championship to the Tampa Bay Storm by a single point as a last-second field goal attempt was unsuccessful.

In 2011, the Predators finished the regular season 11–7, but fell to the Jacksonville Sharks in the conference semifinals by a score of 63–48.

With a 4–14 record in 2012 under first-year head coach Bret Munsey, the Predators missed the playoffs for the first time since their inaugural season in 1991. Following the end of the season, Munsey was released as head coach. [7]

Under Doug Plank for the 2013 season, the Predators lost their first five games of the season. It was then that the team acquired veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia in a trade with the San Jose SaberCats. The Predators went on to win seven of their remaining thirteen games following the trade to finish the season with a 7–11 record, which was good enough to clinch a playoff berth. However, they were eliminated in the conference semifinals by the Philadelphia Soul. With two weeks remaining during the regular season, Brett Bouchy sold his controlling interest in the team to The Pearsall Holdings LP for an undisclosed amount. [8] Plank retired following the season. [9]

The Predators moved to CFE Arena on the campus of the University of Central Florida in 2014, [10] after the Amway Center informed the team that they had defaulted on their lease for failing to meet attendance requirements. [11] On December 25, 2013, the Predators announced that Rob Keefe would become the seventh coach in franchise history. [12] In May 2014, it was announced that majority owner David Pearsall had sold the team to an undisclosed ownership group, [13] but the team was taken over by the AFL. In July 2014, reports began to surface that David A. Siegel had purchased the franchise with the intent to move the team back into the Amway Center. [14] On July 15, 2014, Siegel confirmed his purchase of the Predators. [15]

On December 8, 2014, the Predators suspended head coach Rob Keefe with pay while an investigation was ongoing by the Orange County Sheriff's Office into accusations of domestic violence. [16] The charges were since dropped.

During the week of June 18, 2016, the entire Arena Football League, including the hometown Predators, displayed patches and stickers "ORL" as a remembrance of the victims killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.[ needs update ]

On October 12, 2016, the Orlando Predators announced they had suspended operations due to the reduced number of teams in the AFL and other pending disagreements with the league. [17]

Revival in the National Arena League (2019)

In 2019, former Predator Kenny McEntyre launched a new Predators team in the National Arena League. [18]

Predator highlights

The Predators made Arena Football League history in consecutive weeks during the 1992 season:

Players

The Predators in 2015 Orlando Predators (2015).jpg
The Predators in 2015

Final roster

Orlando Predators roster
Quarterbacks

Fullbacks

Wide receivers

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Kickers

Injured reserve

Other league exempt

League suspension

Refused to report

Inactive reserve

Recallable reassignment

  • Currently vacant
  • Rookies in italics
  • Roster updated August 5, 2016
  • 24 Active, 22 Inactive

Arena Football Hall of Fame members

Orlando Predators Hall of Fame members
No.NameYear inductedPosition(s)Years with Predators
84 Carl Aikens, Jr. 2000 WR/DB 1992–1993
5 Ben Bennett 2000 QB 1991–1995
7 Jay Gruden 1999 QB 2002–2003
Perry Moss 2000 Head coach 1991–1997
29 Durwood Roquemore 1999 WR/DB 1991–1996
 ?? Reggie Smith 2002 WR/DB 1991
 ?? Stevie Thomas 2011 WR/LB 2000
82 Barry Wagner 2011 WR/DB 1992–1997, 2007
22 Herkie Walls 2000 WR/DB 1991–1996

Individual awards

All-Arena players

The following Predators players were named to All-Arena teams:

All-Ironman players

The following Predators players were named to All-Ironman teams:

All-Rookie players

The following Predators players were named to All-Rookie teams:

Coaches of note

Head coaches

NameTermRegular seasonPlayoffsAwards
WLTWin%WL
Perry Moss 19911997 59250.70288 1992 & 1994 AFL Coach of the Year
Jay Gruden 19982001, 20042008 82540.603117
Fran Papasedero 20022003 19110.63332
Pat O'Hara 20102011 19150.55912
Bret Munsey 2012 4140.22200
Doug Plank 2013 7110.38901
Rob Keefe 20142016 35170.67313

Staff

Orlando Predators staff
Front office
  • Owner – David A. Siegel
  • President – Jared Saft
  • Operations and sponsorships - Darrell Harbin
  • General manager of football operations - Michael DiJulio
  • Director of ticket sales - Aubrey Jones
 Head coach

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Season-by-season

Notes

  1. "Orlando tosses hat into Arena". Orlando Sentinel. August 4, 1987. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  2. "Arena Football Adds Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. February 14, 1991. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  3. Arthur R. Brown Jr. (August 22, 1992). "Predators strive for win over Drive in ArenaBowl tonight". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  4. Orlando Predators Back for 2010 Season Archived 2014-08-12 at the Wayback Machine
  5. http://www.cfnews13.com/Sports/CentralFloridaSportsReport/2009/12/22/ohara_to_coach_orlando_predators_in_2010.html%5B%5D
  6. "2010 Schedule Released". orlandopredators.com. Retrieved 4 May 2018.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Predators Announce the Release of Head Coach Bret Munsey". Orlando Predators. August 13, 2012. Archived from the original on August 21, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  8. Richard Bilbao (July 18, 2013). "Bouchy sells equity in Orlando Predators". The Business Journals. American City Business Journals. Archived from the original on December 21, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  9. David Pingalore (November 7, 2013). "Doug Plank resigns as Predators head coach". clickorlando.com. WKMG - Orlando. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  10. Mark Schlueb (December 5, 2013). "Orlando Predators leaving downtown to play at UCF". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  11. March Schlueb (September 4, 2013). "Orlando Predators lose their Amway Center lease". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  12. "Orlando hires ex-Shock coach Keefe". The Spokesman-Review. December 25, 2013. Archived from the original on December 26, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  13. Alicia DelGallo (May 13, 2014). "Predators seek new ownership, deny report league has taken over team". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  14. Alicia DelGallo (July 8, 2014). "David Siegel reportedly buys Preds, seeks team's return to Amway Center". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  15. Alicia DelGallo (July 15, 2014). "Time-share mogul David Siegel confirms purchase of Orlando Predators". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on July 19, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  16. Orlando Predators coach Rob Keefe suspended indefinitely Archived 2017-07-30 at the Wayback Machine , Orlando Sentinel
  17. "The Orlando Predators have chosen to suspend team operations". Orlando Predators. October 12, 2016. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016.
  18. J.C. Carnahan (January 16, 2019). "Kenny McEntyre revives Orlando Predators in National Arena League". Orlando Sentinel .
  19. Richard Oliver (June 17, 2012). "Force's 50–0 loss 20 years ago stands alone". mysanantonio.com. Hearst Communications Inc. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  20. http://www.arenafootball.com/mediaPlayer/video.dbml?DB_MENU_ID=&SPSID=38064&SPID=3172&DB_OEM_ID=3500&CLIP_ID=31848&CLIP_FILE_ID=35915&CONTENT_TYPE=ONDEMAND [ permanent dead link ]

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