Fornario Done With Arena Football?

By RJ Ciancio

Director of National Arena League Coverage 

Gregg Fornario entered the arena football world in 2017 with the Richmond Roughriders. The team was a charter member of Arena Pro Football (APF) as Richmond tore up the competition going undefeated and winning the APF Championship Game over the Florida Tarpons 74-61. The next season, the team almost joined the National Arena League (NAL) for the 2018 campaign. At the last minute, the team decided American Arena League (AAL) instead. Yet again the Roughriders were dominant going seven and one (with the lone loss coming to the Georgia Doom) in the regular season. The Roughriders would make it to the AAL Championship Game where they fell to the Atlanta (now Carolina) Havoc 58-50. 

In the 2018 Offseason, Gregg was forced to relocate the team due to the uncertain future of the Richmond Coliseum (where the team played at the time). On August 15, 2018 (during the time he was looking at relocation options) Gregg announced a new arena league called Northern Arena Football (NAF). Teams were to be located north of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, therefore not making the Roughriders eligible. By August 30, 2018 the league was rebanded Professional Arena Football (PAF) with two divisions: Northern Arena Football and Southern Arena Football. The New England Cavalry (formerly an AAL-affiliate team and now a charter member of the New England Arena League), the now relocated West Virginia Roughriders and the Marion Mambas were to all be members of the new league. By November of 2018 no new team had joined the league and Gregg decided to not have the PAF play the 2019 season and the Roughriders re-joined the AAL. 

With the team now playing in the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Verginia the West Verginia Roughriders began their campaign for a third consecutive championship appearance. For the second time in franchise history, the Roughriders went undefeated heading into the AAL Championship Game. 

However, there is another story going into the AAL Championship Game: the future of owner Gregg Fornario in arena football. On the night of June 22, 2019 Gregg posted to his Instagram page 4nario: “Its not always about Football, but if next Saturday is my last game then just know i did it “My Way “. #ArenaFootball #Frankiesaidididitmyway #WestVerginiaRoughriders #Futureisbright #June29thChampionshipgame”. 

I reached out to Gregg asking if he might fold the Roughriders or look to sell them he said: “Not sure exactly, I love the sport but I had a few interviews with the NFL and I may pursue that. But like every offseason it’s up in the air. But to answer your question if I decide not to come back, I’m not sure I would sell it.”

The future of Gregg Fornario and/or the Roughriders franchise in arena football may be uncertain, but what cannot be questioned is the successful team that has consistently been put out on the field since 2017. The AAL Championship has a good amount of buzz around it as the undefeated Carolina Energy take on the undefeated Roughriders at WesBanco Arena as both teams fight for the Jack Bowman Trophy (the championship trophy named for late league co-founder Jack Bowman). Regardless of what happens with Gregg or the Roughriders, we at Arena Football Talk wish the franchise and the man behind it all the best. 

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