Jon Bon Jovi Philadelphia Soul
February 2, 2012 by staff
Jon Bon Jovi Philadelphia Soul, The Philadelphia Soul are an Arena Football League team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They began play in 2004 as an expansion team. The team plays in the Eastern Division of the American Conference. They won their first ArenaBowl in 2008, defeating the San Jose SaberCats 59-56 in ArenaBowl XXII.
The Soul won 13 games and lost 3 in the 2008 regular season, as well as winning three playoff games, including ArenaBowl XXII. After two seasons of inactivity in 2009 and 2010, they returned in 2011 under new Head Coach Mike Hohensee.
The team was owned by co-majority owners Jon Bon Jovi and Craig Spencer along with minority owners Richie Sambora, Ron “Jaws” Jaworski (former QB of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) and Leo Carlin, Jr. The Soul began play in February of 2004, and played its home games at the Wells Fargo Center (then known as the Wachovia Center), home of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association.
When there was a scheduling conflict with the NBA or NHL, games were played at the now-demolished Wachovia Spectrum-the former home of the Flyers, 76ers, Philadelphia Phantoms AHL hockey team and the Philadelphia KiXX MISL soccer franchise.
The Soul played in the Eastern Division of the National Conference of the AFL. The name “Soul” referred to the Philadelphia soul music genre, as the team was owned in part by musician Jon Bon Jovi. The official mascot of the Soul was the Blues Brother-like “Soul Man”.
In 2005, the Soul began the season by beating the Austin Wranglers 66-35. However, after five games, the Soul had two wins and three losses, which led to the firing of head coach Michael Trigg.
Critics[who?] say that the Soul erred that off-season when they made Tony Graziani the highest-paid player in Arena League history. The move left them with little money under the salary cap to improve their defense, and as a result, they were not in competition for the playoffs. The elimination came even after NBC scheduled 14 games of the Soul to be shown on national or regional television.
In 2006, the Soul began 2-0. They went 2-0 against division rival Dallas Desperados (who finished a league best 13-3), and finished the season at 9-7 and earned their first playoff berth through the wild card. In their wild card playoff game, the Soul defeated the Austin Wranglers in Austin, 52-35. The score was 21-21 at halftime, but the #5 seed Soul outscored the #4 Wranglers 21-7 in the third quarter and ran away with the game.
The Soul lost their Divisional Round Playoff game 31-27 to the Orlando Predators in the infamous “round of golf”, so-called because viewers missed much of the 1st quarter of that game and another AFL game being broadcasted simultaneously due to a PGA Golf tournament that was televised on NBC.
The Soul started 4-0 in 2007 before losing to the Georgia Force, 57-49. Afterwards, they lost on a Monday night contest to their division rival, the Dallas Desperados, 51-41. In the game, Tony Graziani left the game early with a separated left shoulder from a sack by OL/DL Rickie Simpkins.
He would miss the next four weeks, all losses, dropping the team to 4-6. Graziani returned in week 12 against the New Orleans VooDoo and led the team to its highest scoring output in its short franchise history, winning 78-34. In a Week 16 “win-and-in” matchup with the Columbus Destroyers, Graziani led the Soul down the field and threw a touchdown pass to Charles Pauley with seven seconds left, giving the Soul a 56-53 win and their second trip to the playoffs in their four-year history. In the playoffs, they defeated the Orlando Predators 41-26, then traveled to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Force in the Divisional Round, but lost 65-39.
In 2008, the Soul signed WR Chris Jackson in the off-season. He was united with a former teammate in Tony Graziani. In the offseason the Soul were picked by many as the favorite to win the championship. However after another good start, once again Graziani was injured.
He was replaced by Matt D’Orazio. Unlike previous years, in 2008 the Soul backup was able to keep the team going. He played well enough that when Graziani was healthy once more, the coaching staff decided to allow D’Orazio to keep the starting job. The Soul finished the 2008 season with a 13-3 record and earned a first-round bye. In the divisional round the Soul defeated the New York Dragons.
In the conference finals the Soul were able to defeat the Cleveland Gladiators to earn their first berth to the Arena Bowl. They then won their first ArenaBowl on Sunday, July 27, 2008 in a 59-56 win over the San Jose SaberCats in ArenaBowl XXII.
The team suspended operations along with the rest of the Arena Football League in 2009.
On February 17, 2010, the Arena Football League extended an offer to the Soul to make a return to arena football. That offer was accepted, as the Soul returned in 2011 playing all their home games at the then-recently renamed Wells Fargo Center. Jaworski and Spencer will return from the prior ownership group, and Pete Ciarrocchi (owner of local sports bar Chickie’s and Pete’s) and Cosmo DeNicola (who was the owner of the now-defunct defunct af2 team the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers) join the new Soul’s ownership. Notably absent is Jon Bon Jovi, who cites his focus on the group’s current tour as a reason for declining ownership, but still maintains his support for the Soul and their new ownership.
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