01/17/2019 2:53 PM -
Arena football’s all-time leader in interceptions is reviving the Orlando Predators in time for the upcoming National Arena League season this spring.
An ownership group led by former Preds defensive specialist Kenny McEntyre and Nate Starling gained approval to bring arena football back to Orlando via the NAL on Wednesday. The regular season kicks off in April for the eight-team league.
The move is expected to be finalized this week with a formal announcement slated for next week at Amway Center, where the team will play its home games.
McEntyre could not be reached for comment.
The Preds are scheduled to host an open tryout on Saturday at Edgewater High School from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Registration is $65.
While the Predators name is familiar to arena football fans, the new league has new rules that will be noticeable from the moment they enter the arena. The National Arena League does not play with end zone nets, as was custom in the Arena Football League, and teams are awarded two points on a kickoff that goes through the uprights.
The base pay for rookie players in the NAL is $200 per week. Veterans make $225 with the potential for loyalty raises on a year-by-year basis. A $50 bonus is given to players on the winning team each week.
McEntyre did quite a bit of winning during a 14-year AFL career that concluded with a record 97 interceptions. He played all but one season in Orlando, spending 2007 with the Kansas City Brigade.
The Preds join New York as expansion franchises in the third-year league. The Jacksonville Sharks won the inaugural league title in 2017 followed by the Carolina Cobras in 2018. Other franchises are located in Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The Predators debuted in the AFL in 1991 and won ArenaBowl championships under Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden in 1998 and 2000. Orlando also reached the ArenaBowl five other times from 1992 to 2006.
After the 2009 AFL season was canceled, the Preds returned to the old Amway Arena in 2010 as part of the league’s 15-team reorganization before moving to Amway Center and briefly playing at UCF’s CFE Arena. The franchise folded following the 2016 season.
The AFL was downsized to just five teams for the 2017 season and four teams in 2018.