By Jake Brown
Coney Island is home to a wonderful array of fun activities in the summer. Whether it be the rides, the hot dog eating contest, the various eateries, or Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball games at MCU Park, there’s always something to do until the weather cools down. Well now, the fall season brings a new flare to the diverse city. For the first time since 1949, football has arrived in Brooklyn.
MCU Park is now home of the Brooklyn Bolts, which is one of four teams in the brand-new FXFL (Fall Experimental Football League). The Bolts opened their inaugural campaign with a win Wednesday night over the Boston Brawlers, 27-20. While the rainy weather caused many to stay away, it was a historic night in Coney Island. Fans will get the chance to see young NFL hopefuls play against each other all with the same common goal…get back to the league where they dream to play.
“We’re talking about the top 120 players in the country right now who are not on NFL rosters,” Bolts head coach and former Jets and Dolphins offensive lineman John Bock said. “We got some pretty good young athletes and you get to be a part of seeing the next generation make it in the NFL who are long shots.
“I know New Yorkers love long shots. It’s what people come from all around the world to live here in New York is to get their opportunity in America and that is kind of what this team represents.”
Commissioner Brian Woods has put the FXFL together in just over six months. There is still plenty of room for growth in the league, but there have been encouraging signs so far in its first week.
“We’re already seeing interest from the NFL, directly or indirectly. I’m getting very favorable responses from different NFL clubs,” Woods said after the game. “I saw a need for a developmental league.”
The hope is for the NFL to partner with the FXFL down the road and make it the official developmental league. Woods explained that this will not model after the UFL, and it will focus on working with young players, and not guys whose shelf life has expired in the NFL.
“I got a call a couple of weeks ago from Maurice Jones-Drew. He wanted to play in this league. I told him you can probably do very well in this league, but I think your career as an NFL running back is over at this point.”
While the league only consists of four teams right now, expect more to come soon.
“The Brooklyn model is how I envision the league involving,” Woods stated. “We were in talks with Portland. We were in negotiations in Austin with minor league baseball. Memphis was another city we were ready to close a deal with. We want to partner with minor league baseball teams that have an existing infrastructure in place.”
They are also experimenting with some different rules as well, allowing for the game to be safer while adding special team elements to it. Extra points are kicked from the 17-yard line. Kickoffs come from the 25-yard line. A minimum of eight players are lined up on the receiving team in a 10-yard box so they are closer together so high-impact injuries don’t occur as often. Woods explained that the NFL has a real problem right now with their kickoffs as crucial plays on special teams are being taken away with all the touchbacks.
While the crowd was a bit sparse Wednesday due to weather, the Bolts and MCU Park are expecting bigger turnouts of over 2,000 people for their final two Friday home games on October 24th and November 7th against the Omaha Mammoths and the Florida Blacktips. To purchase tickets, you can go to BklynBolts.com.