By Brice Burge
Head of Management
Old habits die hard, especially when you're bringing back a team from the grave.
Usually those old pitfalls would be why the team went extinct to begin with, but for the Orlando Predators, some things the team absolutely has to bring back for the history and the fans. For example, calling their field "the jungle".
Problem is another franchise in the National Arena League already calls their home field that.
The Columbus Lions, a stable and consistent organization that has climbed up the ranks of indoor football to one of the more prolific leagues in the country, calls their arena "the jungle" too. The perfect place for a pride of lions, Columbus is the smallest market in the league. That hasn't stopped them from making last year's NAL championship game.
In a dilemma that would make Guns N Roses fans feel right at home, the opportunity to raise the stakes was taken by ownership, resulting in the Jungle War rivalry.
"We were in a Lions staff meeting going back and forth about the two jungles," said Joshua Blair, owner of the Lions. "Then we came up with the idea of having a trophy that determined bragging rights for the jungle."
For the Predators, they had to take the chance to defend their namesake.
"We were all for it," said Purvis Adamson, Director of Multimedia and Assistant General Manager. "Everyone in arena football, they know the Orlando Predators have the jungle."
In the first meeting between the two teams, it was the Predators that came out on top in a 42-40 victory in Orlando. It was the closest game in the NAL this season and the first game back since the original Predators folded.
"It was a historical moment. First year back, first year in the NAL and just to play the Columbus Lions made it more historical," Adamson said.
To celebrate the victory, the Predators brought home the Schwarzenegger Knife, a wooden recreation of the large knife used by his character in the movie Predator. It was presented to the team by NAL Commissioner Chris Siegfried after the game.The idea to use the knife design as the rivalry trophy came from the Lions' front office staff. Social media coordinator Hayley Dukes suggested the design while manager Jared Goertzen hand carved the trophy.
The rivalry trophy is the only one currently in the NAL, but it does have people on both sides wanting to keep it in their own jungle.
"Now we get a chance to play them in our home, the real jungle," said Lions defensive back Shattle Fenteng. "I'm excited about this matchup. The fans are going to see an exciting game and our defense is going to bring it."
For Orlando though, they have no long term plans of giving up the knife.
"I don't think were going to lose it," Adamson said. "We look forward to keeping it, if we lose it one game no big deal, because we’ll get it back and at the end of the season keep it."
The Predators and Lions will face off Saturday, May 4 at 7 p.m. in Columbus. The game will be broadcasted on the NAL YouTube page.