Wolfpack carrying on, despite AFL turmoil

The rebooted league contracts, changes commissioner in the wake of unpaid obligations.

EVERETT — The Washington Wolfpack are weathering the turbulent storm currently rumbling through the rebooted Arena Football League. However, they are doing so under duress.

The Wolfpack are carrying on, they announced in a statement released Friday night, as the first-year league tries to recover from turmoil that threatens the league’s existence, just three weeks into its reboot.

On Tuesday the AFL released a statement announcing former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher, who was the president of football operations for the Nashville Kats, had been named interim commissioner of the league, replacing Lee Hutton III. The statement also said the league was contracting from 16 to 10 teams — including the Wolfpack — and revising the schedule. The league was just three weeks into its season.

Then Friday the Wolfpack released an announcement shedding more light on the situation, as well as how the situation was affecting the team.

“After the Arena Football League reformed in 2023, teams including ours were promised player salaries and team travel to away games — paid by the league,” the statement, which was released on the team’s website, read. “Under commissioner Lee Hutton III, the AFL failed to provide a single dollar towards these expenses for the Washington Wolfpack. The commissioner communicated through the first several weeks of the season how the league would still honor the payments owed to its teams. Regardless, our ownership group decided to pay our players in good faith and pressured the Arena Football League to honor its obligations.

“On May 14 2024, our Washington Wolfpack joined nine other AFL teams to unanimously support and appoint Jeff Fisher as interim commission of our league. We are optimistic about this and other Arena Football League changes moving forward, but we — along with teams across the country — have not been immune to the impacts of the season’s first three weeks.”

The statement went on to say Washington would host the Oregon Blackbears on Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena, but that the remainder of the schedule was still being worked out. It also outlined the financial stress the team has experienced.

“The Wolfpack has not forgotten, but has been able to absorb the impact of the former league leadership’s refusal to compensate player salaries,” the statement said. “We need to revise our model moving forward. Our current player roster has been offered a revised compensation structure that we feel is competitive with indoor football, although reduced from salary levels initially proposed at the start of the season. Our players have been distressed by the withholding of these league payments to its players. It is an unfortunate decision, but one that we feel will help guide our team forward for the remainder of this season and many more to come.

“The future of the Washington Wolfpack is extremely bright. We believe in our fans and sponsors, and also in Jeff Fisher leading the league. We as owners, players, coaches and staff are fully committed to helping the vision of the Arena Football League moving forward.”

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