The Arena Football League’s newest expansion team, the Las Vegas Outlaws, has made a statement to the entire league that they mean business. For a team that will only be having their first official season, they have already shown the league and other AFL fans that they are the team to watch. On Tuesday night, the Outlaws announced their first five signed players. Four of the five players have had past arena football experience. It just so happens though that two of their newly signed players played for the LA Kiss last season, a team that is predicted to be their future rivals.
The Las Vegas Outlaws have signed J.J. Raterink and Donovan Morgan. While these two players were key weapons on the LA Kiss offense, they were also the team captains. Donovan Morgan, a six-year arena football veteran, was an explosive wide receiver and caught a total of 141 receptions for 1,878 yards, and also scored 18 touchdowns last season. Raterink, who is also an AFL veteran, was the Kiss quarterback. He passed 38 touchdowns, had 2,335 passing yards, and 111 rushing yards.
The Outlaws also took one other key factor from the LA Kiss. Aaron Garcia was recruited to replace J.J. Raterink as quarterback after he took a downward turn in his performance and could not make game-sealing plays. He was eventually released but returned after playing six games with the Iowa Barnstormers, and eventually regained his quarterback spot after Aaron Garcia faced an injury. The LA Kiss even considered asking Garcia to head coach and replace current coach Bob McMillen in the next season after there was word of his retirement and future interest in coaching for the AFL. Aaron Garcia’s coaching dreams became a reality but surprised the AFL when Las Vegas Outlaws announced that he would be the official head coach of the new expansion team instead of the Kiss. Garcia took the lead as offensive coach for LA during his injury and already has experience coaching both Raterink and Morgan.
Just a few hours west, LA Kiss owners and rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have their own reasons to feel pressured to ensure a better season by the league. The Outlaws signed a partnership with Motley Crue rocker, Vince Neil. Simmons and Stanley set the bar high with including over-the-top entertainment at home games. Their halftime and opening performances included their explosive dance team, fire displays, cage dancing, and of course music from KISS. With Vince Neil joining in on this rocker owner trend, many fans are expecting Neil’s desire to bring his entertainment ideas to his own team. With the Las Vegas Outlaws being in the Entertainment Capital of the world, Vince Neil will surely bring excitement to UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, which also just so happens to be minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip.
The Las Vegas Outlaws still have a long road ahead of them to prepare and build their franchise for the upcoming season. This is the third time that arena football was brought to Sin City, as the previous attempts failed to bring in revenue. Vince Neil has already successfully turned heads within the AFL by recruiting three key factors from the LA Kiss, a team that was already facing struggles with keeping their players happy towards the end of the season. Whatever it was that pulled in Raterink, Morgan and Garcia over to Las Vegas was most likely just the start to a successful and head-turning franchise.
Commentary By Tricia Manalansan
Photo Courtesy Ken Lund -Creativecommons License