August 11th, 2019 is a day that impacts the AFL foundation to its core. The big game feels from the crowd attendance at the Times Union Center, the former and current AFL players in attendance, and the presentation on ESPN 2 for Arena Bowl 32 certainly made everything feel larger than life. Truly, Arena Bowl 32 featured the two best teams in the AFL. The Philadelphia Soul were the third seed in the playoffs going against the first seed Albany Empire, who were ten-point favorites. When the game was all said and done, the Empire defeated the Soul, 45-27, to secure their first-ever Arena Bowl championship.
Both teams were undefeated in their playoff run headed into Arena Bowl 32. Going into Arena Bowl 32, the Philadelphia Soul and Albany Empire each owned a win against each other in 2019 when starters played the entire game. 12,042 attended the Times Union Center and the packed house looked great on ESPN 2. Before the game, “Touchdown” Eddie Brown, formerly of the Albany Firebirds, did the opening coin toss. A few other former AFL players, personalities, and current players were in attendance in Albany for the championship game, including Coffee Jones, Kendrick Ings, and Antwane Grant.
The players of the Albany Empire had performances that stood out across the board. The offensive player of the game was Quentin Sims had nine catches for ninety-three yards and four touchdowns. The defensive player of the game was Maurice Leggett, who intercepted Dan Raudabaugh in the endzone and returned for a fifty-four-yard touchdown, which is now an Arena Bowl record. Leggett also had a fumble recovery that came at a critical time when the Philadelphia Soul just got the ball back on offense. Terence Moore forced a fumble on Darius Prince, which was recovered by Leggett. The most valuable player of Arena Bowl 32 was Tommy Grady, who threw five touchdowns and no interceptions. He played a very clean game to clinch the Empire’s first Arena Bowl championship.
Speaking of Maurice Leggett, head coach Rob Keefe had high praise for the defensive player of the game. Leggett signed with the Albany Empire in time for the final regular-season game, which was against the Philadelphia Soul. We asked Keefe about reaching out to Leggett just before the AFL playoffs:
“An unbelievable player. This business is all about relationships and the relationships you have with players, so the last time I coached him was in 2012. So for him, to be in the CFL for the last six years, at one time he was the Kansas City Chiefs special teams player of the year, and that’s the impact that he has. I knew I had to get him back. The CFL was going to retire him and he wanted to continue to play. I definitely called him and said, ‘Mo, we need you.’ He wanted to be here and the guys embraced him.”Rob Keefe on Maurice Leggett; 8/11/2019
Game analysis on the page below: