1997: "Cha, Cha, Changes"
The off season between 1996 and 1997 brought about a revolution larger than any could have imagined. It was generally agreed that changes were needed to tighten up the rules and that we needed to become more organized. Meetings were arranged by the owners, for the owners. Rules would be reviewed, and changes would be voted upon. A new home was found for the SFFL World Wide Web Homepage. A large quantity of content was (and still is being) developed for the site. A new partially restricted waiver system was implemented and some minor changes were made to boost running back scoring.
The largest change would be to the league schedule. Last
season's two division format was retained and a 13 week
regular season was adopted. This would assure all divisional
opponents would be played twice and non-divisional opponents
once. The previous 14th regular season game would become a
wildcard game that was added to allow two additional teams a
shot at the championship. A new team, the Eager Beaver signed
on to join the fray, solidifying the divisional line ups for
|North Division||Owner||South Division||Owner|
|Eager Beavers||Dave Daigle||Fighting Lounge Chairs||Len Swiat|
|Elephants||Ander Babar||Invaders||Eric Palmer|
|Hackers||Jim Honer||Bulimic Cannibals||Bill Bechdel/Joe English|
|Millionnaire Pond Scum||Jim Gabryszak||Private's Parts||Bob Sikorski|
|Rough Riders||Chris Clark||THRAK||Kevin Papendick|
As the season grew closer Commissioner Jim stepped down as he had accepted a position at another company and felt he would not be able to continue his duties as commissioner. He would retain ownership of his team, the Millionnaire Pond Scum and vowed to win a third straight title. By default Kevin was quickly nominated and elected as the new commissioner of the SFFL. Four weeks prior to the start of the season a draft date was agreed upon. The SFFL was poised for sunnier days in 1997.(klp 08/14/97)
During the second week of the season, our web host abruptly informed the league office that it would be ceasing operations immediately. The league was stunned, but would not let it get them down. The league office reacted immediately and began a frantic search for a stable home online for the SFFL. It tooks some time and after approximately a week of down time the SFFL went back online between weeks #3 and #4. Too much hard work had been plowed into this effort to let it fail so easily.
At this point in the season the league was taking on a new look. In the South Division the Invaders and Fighting Lounge Chairs were 2-0 while up north the Elephants had half game lead over the Eager Beavers after a league first; a tie with the Hackers, and the two time champion Millionaire Pond Scum were in the cellar at 0-2! The face of the SFFL appeared to be changing.(klp 09/13/97)
The balance of the 1997 season saw a fairly tight race up to the last couple of weeks with nearly all of the teams remaining in contention. The two time defending champion Millionaire Pond Scum got off to a slow start in the North Division, but after a couple of waiver moves began to solidify. At week seven they were a half a game back of the always underachiving and disrespected Rough Riders. No one wanted to see the Scum "do it again" and no one thought the Rough Riders had what it would take down the home stretch. As the regular season drew to a close the Scum had again floated to the top, the Riders stumbled, and the Elephants plodded into second place with a weak 5-7-1 record. The Hackers rebounded from an early 2-4-1 start to finish with just behind the Elephants with an equally weak 5-7-1 record.
Meanwhile the South Division began to look like a weekend at Tommy and Pamela Lee's house with someone getting beat up real bad on a regular basis. The Fighting Lounge Chairs jumped out to a league record 7-0 start before skidding 2-4 down the stretch. Private's Parts meanwhile plugged along and was 5-2 after seven weeks. But a steady 5-1 run down the stretch allowed them to catch and surpass the Chairs by a full game, finishing at a league best 10-3. The Invaders landed the South Division wildcard by finishing a reasonable 7-6 after failing to reach their true potential.
Off the field several significant events occured. The Rhino Report abruptly ceased publication as his great savannah went up in flames thus inflicting massive pain and suffering upon his flesh. In a final gasp he stated that he might be able to muster the energy to return to torture the likes of the Rough Riders and the Eager Beavers, but in all likelyhood we have seen the last of him. A short time later the THRAK organization abruptly announced that they would no longer be playing their home games in Alden due to a "contractual dispute" and instead would be sharing facilities with the Invaders for the remainder of the 1997 season. The Hackers also completed their previously announced relocation to Quakertown, PA a short time later with the team remaining funded by their current owner, Jim Honer.
As the flurry of off field turmoil settled down, the playoffs began with everyone vowing to keep the Scum from prevailing again. It would be a tough road though. The Scum were once again a force to be dealt with, but unlike in past seasons where they routinely dominated teams, this season they had shown to be wildly inconsistent on occasion. It was this inconsistency that the others hoped to capitalize on. In the first round the Scum and Part's had the week off by virtue of being the divisional leaders. Meanwhile the Elephants walked over the Hackers 38-28 and the Chairs clipped the Invaders by a mere point 66-65 to advance to the semi-finals.
The week off for the divisional leaders gave them lots of time to heal their wounds as both games spun completely out of control. In the North Division final the Scum drowned the Elephants 73-23 to advance to their third straight SFFL championship game. Meanwhile in the South Division the Parts disassembled the Chairs 61-12 to make their first ever appearance in the big showdown. The stage was set...the wily old veteran team against the 1997 class act of the league.
The hype was almost as great as the hope going into this game. Could the Parts put together that perfect season ending game to dethrone the reining champion? And in a rather uneventful fashion the answer was simply "NO!". The Scum would become the undisputed three-peat champions of the SFFL with their 47-34 win over the Parts. And so it would be. Until next year...