Arena Football League players presumably aren't in it for the money, since, at roughly $400 per game, most of them don't make all that much money to begin with. Those who would like to the league improve player salaries don't have much leverage, either, since it's pretty easy for a league composed mostly of guys off the street to find other guys off the street willing to play in their place. Take what happened when the Arena Football League's players' union authorized a strike on Friday, the day the Pittsburgh Power were slated to open the season against the Orlando Predators: The owners of both teams hit back by releasing all 24 of their players, with the Power's owner telling his players about it during dinner at an Olive Garden hours before kickoff.
This is how Power center Beau Elliott described the scene to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
"I'm putting food in my mouth and being read, from a piece of paper by our owner, that the Pittsburgh Power as a whole is now terminated. Mid-statement, all the players got up and left. Every player got up and left while he was still talking. There were 15 to 20 angry, large individuals."
The Power's owner, Matt Shaner, gave the released players the option of leaving the union and rejoining the team under the terms of their old contracts, and the Predators' management gave its players the same offer. Friday's game wound up being played, with a handful of players opting to return to join the replacement players. But those Power players who refused the deal were on their own.
Shaner said the players who did not re-sign will not travel back to Pittsburgh with the team and will have to return at their own expense.
"The players were released," Shaner said. "Neither the team nor the Arena Football League have any travel obligations to them."
Power quarterback Kyle Rowley, a 10-year Arena League veteran, was not given a chance to return, though Shaner declined to say why. The union's president wound up renting a van for Rowley and six other players to drive the 17 hours back to Pittsburgh. The strike ended Saturday afternoon, but Rowley was among those still trying to figure out his next move at the time.
"I don't know my options," he said. "I'm just trying to get home right now."