BIRMINGHAM - Good news and no new news from the Alliance of American Football (AAF) Sunday afternoon.
The Birmingham Iron clinched a playoff berth by a 17-9 victory over the Atlanta Legends, in their final game at Legion Field in the inaugural season of the new professional league.
But uncertainty is hanging above the AAF. On March 27, a story that was first released by USA Today, reports majority owner Tom Dundon is considering of shutting down the AAF.
Officially, that was the last time Birmingham will play at the ole gray lady on Graymont Avenue. The Iron have road games left at Arizona and Orlando and will play at Orlando in the Eastern Division playoff April 20 or 21.
Dundon is wanting the National Football League to be a developmental league for the AAF, by providing them young players.
Dundon went on by saying, this is one option of several that he is looking at. Shutting the league down is not what players, coaches and those employed in the AAF want to hear.
It comes down to the players' association of the NFL. Dundon wants their association, but loaning players to the AAF could violate the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
The AAF was designed by CEO and co-founder Charlie Ebersol, plus co-founder Bill Polian, who have impressive credentials in many years of association through the NFL.
The head of football development for the AAF is former Pittsburgh Steeler standout Hines Ward. Ex-steeler linebacker Troy Polamalu is the director of player relations and ex-Giant defensive standout Justin Tuck serves on the board of advisors.
Players in the AAF are collegiate players, with a high percentage of trying to make an NFL roster, but unable to maintain that status.
A 10-game regular season schedule is what makes up the AAF. Through Sunday, the league has been active for eight weeks.
Birmingham is now 5-3, with a playoff berth locked in the East behind Orlando who has a 7-1 record. Orlando is the darling of the AAF, due to the fact of being led by former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
At least the Iron can say goodbye to the home fans by snapping a two-game skid at Legion Field. Birmingham was 3-2 on the home turf, opening the season on February 10 with a 26-0 shutout of the Memphis Express.
A 3-0 start for the Iron came crashing with back to back losses at Legion Field in early March to San Antonio 12-11 and Orlando 31-14.
Attendance has not been something to brag out. The crowd Sunday withstood wind conditions and temperature in the low 50s. Attendance was announced at 17,328, the best of five home games for the playoff bound Iron.
Now with a playoff berth secured, the Iron want to build momentum, facing two elite squads to complete the regular season.
A trip to Arizona next week will have the Iron facing a team that is contending for the top spot in the AAF West.
Then it will be back to back games in Orlando. The regular season finale is April 14 at the Apollos' home, which is also shared by the University of Central Florida.
The only one that has spoken about the future of the AAF is Dundon. No comments have been made from Ebserol, Polian, Ward, Tuck and others who have huge interest in the league becoming successful.
Nothing has been indicated by the Iron through management to the coaching staff.
Having the league shut down will effect many as jobs will be lost and those who are involved in professional football, will be challenged on trying to stay in the profession through the NFL.
If the league goes under, it would be the fourth try and fourth failure for Birmingham. The Magic City has given it a shot in the World Football League (WFL), the United States Football League (USFL) and the World League of American Football (WLAF).
The leagues failed, not the Birmingham teams.
That could be the case for this edition of Birmingham's involvement in professional football.
Updates will be provided once information comes from the AAF or the Iron.
Photo 1: The crowd at Legion Field Sunday was 17,328. Final home game for the Iron.
Photo 2: Birmingham Iron defense about to converge of Atlanta QB Matt Simms.
Photo 3: Birmingham QB Luis Perez drops back to pass in 1st quarter Sunday.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
SPORTSPAGE ALL PERFORMANCE BASKETBALL TEAMS 2019:
1. Kelly Pickett - Hanceville
2. Toni West - Cold Springs
3. Savanna Derrick - Good Hope
4. Katie Ball - Fairview
1. Camryn Crider - Cold Springs
2. A.K. Eastman - Cullman
3. Miriam Oldacre - West Point
4. Payton Golden - Fairview
1. Elizabeth Hill - Cold Springs
2. Lexi Shadix - West Point
3. Daisy Manasco - Fairview
4. Kirsten Campbell - Holly Pond
1. Mackenzie Carter - West Point
2. Maddie Heatherly - Holly Pond
3. Emma Tafazoli - St. Bernard
4. Cassidy Campbell - Hanceville
1. Aubry Negron - Cold Springs
2. Alexandria Barker - Cullman
3. Elizabeth Miller - Holly Pond
4. Kyler Hembree - West Point
Molly McKelvy - Fairview
Abby Neighbors - Good Hope
Kierra Merriweather - Hanceville
Maddie Yeager - Fairview
A.G. Murphy - Cullman
Olivia Neal - Cullman
Bailey Preiss - Vinemont
1. Cole Maddox - Good Hope
2. Rylan Jones - West Point
3. Jayden Sullins - Cullman
4. Fred Ellis - Hanceville
1. Kolton Sapp - West Point
2. Landon Freeman - Cold Springs
3. Zeke McDonald - Hanceville
4. Luke Yarbrough - Fairview
1. Kyler Chaney - Holly Pond
2. Noah Fendley - Good Hope
3. John Christian Rose - St. Bernard
4. Katch Johnson - Vinemont
1. RJ Evans - Hanceville
2. Tyler Boatright - Holly Pond
3. Romain Ponchon - Hanceville
4. Michael Lowe - Good Hope
1. Adam Hill - Cold Springs
2. Tyler Thompson - West Point
3. Raiden Morgan - Hanceville
4. Kaleb Heatherly - Cullman
Kobe Bowers - West Point
Dow Nichols - Fairview
Noah Bussman - Cullman
Carson Holmes - St. Bernard
Drew Maddox - Good Hope
Ty Bellmon - Hanceville
GIRLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Elizabeth Hill of Cold Springs
VARSITY PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Cole Maddox of Good Hope
GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR:
Tammy West of Cold Springs
VARSITY COACH OF THE YEAR:
Drew Adams of Good Hope
GIRLS GAME OF THE YEAR:
Fairview 45, Hanceville 43 in Cullman County semifinal Jan. 24 at Wallace State
VARSITY GAME OF THE YEAR:
Hanceville 70, West Point 67 (OT) in Cullman County semifinal Jan. 25 at Wallace State
NOTE: Players were selected based on performances in front of Sportspage during the 2018-19 AHSAA basketball season.
BIRMINGHAM - A moment that I will never forget prior to the start of the AHSAA girls 2A state championship game Friday morning is a hug between Cold Springs coach Tammy West and point guard Toni West.
Toni just happens to be the youngest daughter for Tammy and is a huge reason why the Lady Eagles are state champions. Her maturity as a sophomore allowed Camryn Crider to go to the wing position and become the state's all-time leader in three-point field goals in a career.
This is a team that grown the past three years with West and Elizabeth Hill, plus the hard play every time out for Crider and seniors, Aubrey Negron and Kinley Campbell.
From not being able to get through Wallace State in the Northwest Regional final the previous three years, the Lady Eagles were able to utilize their talent and punch a ticket to Birmingham for the first time in 10 years.
The fourth state championship under Tammy West at the 2A school in Southwest Cullman County, will be remembered for being the best three-point squad in one season.
Cold Springs broke its record from 2008 by making 340 in the 2018-19 season. Crider is now the leading three-point shooter in AHSAA history with 157 in an well earned five seasons playing varsity basketball.
It was the last time we see Crider on the floor. Crider said earlier in the season, she would bypass a college career to focus on getting involved in the medical field by attending Wallace State after she graduates in May.
Crider was ready to deliver at the start of the championship game with her partner, Elizabeth Hill, struggling.
This team has gone through adversity of injuries to Crider in her career, plus Neely Ellison coming back from ACL surgery.
Toni West and Elizabeth Hill had ankle sprains during the Northwest Regional. They were able to get treatment and respond when they were called upon.
It was great to be a part of this on the 1st day of March, 2019.
To see the community that loves basketball in a very special way like Cold Springs. They were out in full force, cheering for them to fight off a very good and young basketball team that started four sophomores. They will be a team to look for in being the best out of the Northeast region for the next two years.
It was a team effort for Cold Springs. Through the media, Hill, West and Crider get their attention and should for how hard they play and perform. That can also be said for blue collar types like Neely Ellison, Kinley Campbell and Aubrey Negron.
Negron's effort earned her top rebounding honors with a dozen in the game, six on both sides of the floor.
Campbell raised her level this week in the Magic City with quality minutes and huge plays in the semifinal win and then on this day in the state final.
Exhange student Lina Lieckfield will graduate with Crider, Campbell and Negron in May. She will be remembered through the season for her presence and size at 6'1", giving opponents plenty of fits.
In due time, Tammy West will be in the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame. That will not happen until she reaches the age of 50 to meet eligibility requirements. She has a few years before that happens.
But she and her father, Danny Welborn, share something. Greatness in the game. Both can combine their winning total to over 900 games as Tammy has 600 plus in almost 25 years at Cold Springs and her dad won better than 300 games while at Good Hope for 20 years.
His first taste of success was 40 years ago, a 23-4 record that featured a point guard, who would later become a reporter, sportscaster and a Hall of Famer. That is me.
With young ladies understanding the game and seeing what hard work can do, there is a sure thing, a state championship for girls basketball in Cullman County is well within the grasp of the future.
I have been able to report on five of them in my career. Each has a meaning. This one will and will be talked about for a very long time.
In closing for the Lady Eagles, I use a song from the legendary Frank Sintara. "Here's to the winners."
Congratulations to the 2019 Cold Springs Lady Eagles.
Photo courtesy of the AHSAA