Kevin Price commentary: Columbus Lions' indoor football league might have it right this time

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 22, 2012 

Not that he wasn’t already working, but Jason Gibson went to work in his primary job on Tuesday morning -- that as coach of the Columbus Lions.

The indoor football league team went through physicals Tuesday, then held a team meeting later in the day. The Lions will hold their first practice this afternoon at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium. The Lions can’t yet practice in the Columbus Civic Center because other events are scheduled for that facility.

During the offseason, Gibson, who is entering his sixth season with the Lions, worked with a player personnel director for the first time. He credits Ian Harris with upgrading the talent level for the Lions.

One such player was signed Tuesday. The Lions signed former Carver player Jeff Lemon, who spent time in the Green Bay Packers training camp. Some of the others include former Georgia player Darrius Swain.

Among those expected to return is quarterback Chris McCoy, who led the Lions to the SIFL title in 2010, then to the SIFL title game last season. Gibson expects that McCoy will be pushed for the starting job by a pair of quarterbacks. Also returning is former Shaw standout Anthony Merritt.

Among those not coming back is four-time league defensive MVP Damian Daniels.

“We wanted to have all those guys back,” Gibson said. “It always helps to have veteran guys, but we have a lot of good young players.”

Meanwhile, the Lions have joined a new league.

The af2. The AIFL. The WIFL. The AIFL again. The SIFL. Over the past 11 years, Columbus has had indoor football teams in all of those leagues.

This year, Columbus moves into the Professional Indoor Football League. Basically, it is five teams from last year’s SIFL and with the Knoxville NightHawks added. Albany, Alabama, Louisiana and Richmond remain from last year’s version of the SIFL.

This time around, the PIFL might have the right formula. The league is owned by the six franchise owners, and they will run the league.

In those other leagues, there was one founder who had his own agenda, his own way of doing things. Sometimes that agenda ran contrary to what was good for the individual franchises.

The SIFL was a mess in more ways than one last year. One team folded days before the season started. Another folded a month into the season. Another one was selling off its assets during the season.

But ultimately the only thing that matters is the product on the field.

Fans who make it down to the Columbus Civic Center for Lions games should see much more competitive games.

Winning by scores of 106-35 and 81-32 should be a thing of the past.

One part of the SIFL that should carry over into the PIFL, however, is the intense rivalry between Columbus and Albany. Those two teams met for the SIFL title the past two seasons.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493

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