20 Years Ago Today – Grand Rapids Rampage Wins the Arena Bowl
You could call it Grand Rapids' only major league title, seeing how the Arena Football League was the biggest indoor football league at the time.
They even had big time announcers, Brent Musberger, Gary Danielson and Lynn Swann calling the game from Van Andel Arena on August 19, 2001.
The well loved Rampage set an Arena Bowl record for the most points with 64 as they defeated the Nashville Kats, 64-42, to claim their first and only AFL title.
The Rampage, whose mascot was a rhinoceros named "Blitz", began play at VanAndel in 1998. They were owned by Dan DeVos, and their head coach was Michael Trigg, who was at the helm for their championship year. Their final season in Grand Rapids was 2008.
But in those ten short years here, the Rampage grew a pretty fervid fan base, and rewarded them with the title win in 2001.
The Rampage won the Central Division that season and were led by future Arena League Hall of Fame quarterback Clint Dolezal (Yes! There is an arena football hall of fame, it does not have a physical location, it exists only virtually).
Dolezal and wide receiver Terrill Shaw were an electrifying combination that year, and Arena Bowl XV was no exception, as they combined for five touchdowns in the game, which was broadcast nationally on ABC-TV.
Shaw was named MVP for the game which was played before a sell out crowd of 11,217. The crowd was deafening that afternoon, as you can hear in the video of the entire broadcast, which I've posted below.
"This is a little boys dream," Dolezel told reporters after the game. "We played this whole year with players going down and then others going down. We had 17 different receivers catch balls and that is a credit to the coaches and bringing in good talent behind them."
Dolezal threw for seven touchdowns in the game.
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