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Schedule upsetting


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000

According to the Arena Football League's Fan Bill of Rights, "We believe that every fan demands that we maintain absolute respect for the Arena Football game and maintain the integrity of the finest of fair competition at all time."

Which has Storm coach Tim Marcum wondering if putting his team on five days of rest against an Orlando Predators team that has been off for 11 days is exactly what "integrity of the finest of fair competition" means.

After beating Milwaukee 72-64 on Saturday at the Ice Palace, and because of Nashville's win over Grand Rapids later that night, the Storm was rewarded with Thursday's second-round game in Orlando.

Monday, Marcum wrote a letter to the league offices voicing his displeasure. He has no problem with Orlando, as result of its bye, having the rest, but having to play on five days of rest in a playoff situation hardly seems fair, he says.

"Never in the 12 years that I have been in the league has a team been forced to play a playoff game with five days' rest," Marcum wrote. "This is unacceptable."

Marcum said he could have lived with a Friday game. But according to TNN play-by-play announcer Eli Gold, San Jose -- the No. 1 seed -- could only play that day because of building availability, giving the Predators the Thursday game.

That forced the Storm to practice Sunday.

"We played three times this year on Thursday, so that's not usually a problem," Marcum said. "But it's a playoff situation, do or die. To me, that's a very non-competitive deal."

Marcum said he is also concerned with the possibility of injury, which is "greatly increased" on such short rest in what will be such a volatile game.

Tampa Bay was 2-1 on Thursdays this year.

NO STEVIE: One of the most intriguing story lines for Thursday's playoff game won't unfold.

Tampa Bay's all-time leading receiver, Stevie Thomas, disgruntled because he was not brought back this year, signed with Orlando the first week of July. But after earning AFL Ironman of the Week honors three weeks ago, Thomas injuried a knee that will keep him out of the game.

Thomas was placed on injured reserve last week by the Predators, and the earliest he could return would be for the ArenaBowl Aug. 20, if Orlando gets that far.

Then again, Gary Compton was supposed to be out three to six weeks for Milwaukee and came back in two to catch a pair of touchdowns, despite not being included on the game roster.

"I guess in Milwaukee they do things by dog years," Marcum said. "That must be what they meant."

GOLDEN MAYNOR: Gold left no doubt Monday who he thinks will win Thursday's installment of the War on I-4 -- Orlando.

"I think it's Orlando's game to lose," Gold said Monday. "They are better from top to bottom and are a better football team. And they have Connell Maynor, who is very, very, very good, and with his 60 rushes brings a big intangible."

Count Gold as one of Maynor's biggest fans. The "voice of Arena Football" said Maynor is in "that rarified air of the top two or three quarterbacks in the league."

Maynor was the 11th-rated quarterback in the league this season, but was second in rushing with 202 yards and six touchdowns, only one more score than Tampa Bay quarterback John Kaleo.

RADIO SHOWDOWN: Marcum and Orlando coach Jay Gruden will square off before Thursday's game.

Today on Marcum's 6 p.m. radio show on WDAE-AM 620, Gruden will be the guest.

BIG NUMBERS: Marcum would still rather win 40-24, but he's resigned himself to the fact that this year's edition prefers to win them 72-64.

The reason for the offensive numbers, though, probably has more to do with the poor pass coverage by the Storm defensive backs.

"You don't score 70 points if you're holding the opponent down, making them take like five, six, seven, eight plays to score," Marcum said. "You can't score 72 points if you do that. And we're not doing that."

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