Week 16 of the IFL ended with an ugly incident during the last minute of the game between the Massachusetts Pirates and Arizona Rattlers on Sunday. The incident started after the Pirates had attempted an onside kick while being down 42 to 52 against the Rattlers. During that kick, a timeout taken just before the kick canceled out the outcome of the kick, but a Rattlers player delivered a big hit against a Pirates player during the onside kick. Officials reviewed the hit and called a targeting penalty against the Rattlers player during the play.
After that penalty, Leon O’Neal, Chris Ingram, Charles Williams, and assistant coach Patrick Pass ended up in the stands confronting a fan in the crowd. The IFL prides itself on producing a family-friendly game experience that gets the fans close to the game. Having several members of the Pirates approaching after jumping the wall around the field is different than the experience that IFL commissioner Todd Tryon wants to have his league be associated with their games or teams.
Tryon released a statement on the goifl.com website that states that the IFL has a zero-tolerance policy concerning players and coaches leaving the field of play into the stands. Due to that policy and the Pirates’ actions, the commissioner suspended the players and coach indefinitely and issued an explanation and policy.
Tryon stated in that apology, “This is a one-time incident that does not reflect what the IFL stands for. We are a family-friendly league that offers great sports entertainment and will continue to build on that moving forward. What was a very exciting game was marred by the actions of a few. These actions will never be tolerated and are being fully dealt with.”
The Massachusetts Pirates owner Jawad Yatim has also apologized on the Pirate’s social media accounts.
The Pirates lost the game to the Rattlers 42 to 52, and they are 9-4. Losing the game is minor compared to losing several players and a coach, and it put a significant black mark on their reputation for being one of the best franchises in the IFL. Massachusetts will move forward and focus on finishing the season strong and turn that into a championship run. But the effect of this incident may hang over the Pirates franchise in the future.
Weather Systems Hang Over The Eastern Division Playoff Picture
Coming into Week 16, the Sioux Falls Storm and the Green Bay Blizzard found themselves competing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division. The Storm held the edge after winning against the Blizzard the week before, but the Blizzard could still be a playoff team if they finished the season with three consecutive wins.
The Storm could have taken a significant step to secure their playoff spot when they traveled to the Frisco Fighters. Frisco had announced earlier in the week that they had changed their head coach position, and it was difficult to predict what effect that would have on the Fighters. The result was the Storm taking a 56 to 15 beat down from the Fighters.
As Frisco defeated the Storm, it opened the door for the Blizzard to come closer to earning a playoff spot. Green Bay traveled to the 1-win Tulsa Oilers, and while it seemed that this would be an opportunity for the Blizzard to pick up an easy victory quickly, it was clear that there were no easy victories in the IFL. The Blizzard battled to a 58 to 55 victory, brought their record to 7-6, and allowed them to stay in the race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Division.
Sugar Skulls Fall To Knight Hawks
The Tucson Sugar Skulls are one win away from clinching a playoff spot in the Western Division. In Week 16, Tucson played host to the pesky Vegas Knight Hawks. The Knight Hawks were the last-place team in the Western Division, and they joined the Iowa Barnstormers and Tulsa Oilers in being eliminated from the playoffs.
What should have been a good opportunity for the Sugar Skulls to get a key win became a demonstration of their inconsistencies as a team. On any given week, Tucson could play like the best team in the IFL or one of the worst teams in the IFL. That lack of consistency resulted in the Sugar Skulls losing to the Knight Hawks 34 to 40. The Sugar Skulls will have another chance in Week 17 to pick up a win and secure their spot in the playoffs.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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