With the season winding down and the Shock out of the playoffs, majority owner Brady Nelson already has his eye on next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
Nelson sat down to talk with SWX's Sam Adams this week to talk about the team's attitude after not making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. He also touched on the quarterback conundrum for next year – one that may or may not include Kyle Rowley and/or Erik Meyer, and whether big changes are on the horizon for the Arena Football League:
Q: How do you grade what has happened this year?
A: "It's really tough to grade because when you look at our wins and losses record, right now we're 9-8 and with a chance to go 10-8. And at the end of the season we've possibly beaten six of the eight playoff teams. We've never been in a position where we've not been in the playoffs. We've never had a week where we've planned that on Monday everyone is going home. It's a totally new scenario for us.
Overall, we're not happy to be 9-8. We had much higher expectations."
Q: What does your gut tell you about Erik Meyer and your quarterback situation?
A: "With our new collective bargaining agreement we've negotiated with the union, this is the first time players can sign multi-year contracts. So, we expect to have our quarterback for three years. We worked out Erik last week; he had one day to practice to see how he was, and I think he was a little tentative on wanting to go through this whole thing again – it's the second year in a row he's rehabbed. His talent is there, his leadership is there, all the intangibles are there for a star quarterback in this league, I just think he needs to decide whether he wants to play in it. He's told us he does want to keep playing."
*Asked whether he could see a situation in which the Shock had both Erik Meyer and Kyle Rowley under contract, Nelson flatly said no. He also said they would explore their options on the open market. The free agency period in the AFL begins September 15.
Nelson said he hopes to get 75 percent of this year's players back on next year's squad. And that leads to the next question: what about a possible switch to "Ironman" football – players playing both sides of the ball.
"I think it would be fun for the fans to see that. We only played ironman football for one season, and strategically we thought it would be better to go with one-way specialists because I thought we'd be the best to adapt at it. We didn't have a veteran coaching staff that was rigid in making decisions, so it ended up working out for us. We ended up having a fantastic run.
I think with the opportunity for 2-and-3-year contracts and ironman play I think we have a leg up on our competition."