Los Angeles wins a record fourth Gay Bowl championship; Salt Lake wins Consolation title
By Cyd Zeigler
Thank you, Phoenix! First and foremost with these events always comes a special thank you to all of the organizers, volunteers and sponsors who made the tournament possible. Shawn Rea and Jared Garduno put together a fantastic team and a wonderful event. The facility where the games were held was the best we’ve ever experienced. And Phoenix’s creation of an opening ceremony will hopefully be a tradition that is carried for years to come. Thank you Phoenix for everything you did to make this an incredible Gay Bowl to remember!
What a final. The championship game featured the two teams that have won the last four Gay Bowl titles: The defending-champion Los Angeles Motion (the team Jim and I play on) and the New York Warriors, winners of three straight. And for the second straight year Los Angeles won the championship game by 1 point, beating New York, 19-18.
The game was a defensive struggle with a total of six interceptions. The combined total of 37 points was the lowest ever in a championship game. The game was also a see-saw battle. New York went up early, 6-0, but Los Angeles took the lead into halftime, 13-6. New York dominated the first 20 minutes of the second half, with Mike Fidel picking off two Los Angeles passes and Alon Hacohen throwing for a touchdown and running for another score to take the lead, 18-13.
Los Angeles then marched down the field in a time-consuming drive and scored the go-ahead touchdown when Christophe Faubert threw a pass in the corner of the endzone to receiver Toby Washington with just under two minutes remaining. Los Angeles' Demond Adams iced the game with an interception when a New York pass sailed over a receiver. Los Angeles converted a first down and brought on Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Buzinski to take the final knee.
PATs. I told my guys all offseason the tournament at some point would come down to PATs. In the last two championship games, only two PATs have been converted in 16 tries, and those two conversions have been the difference in the final outcome.
Bookends. This was Los Angeles’ fourth Gay Bowl title, which is a record. The first decade of the Gay Bowl began and ended with back-to-back championships for the City of Angels.
The meaning of winning the game. In the final, we beat the team I started years ago. Many people asked me if this championship felt sweeter beating my old team in the final. Absolutely not. To me, it’s a bizarre question. Why would it be sweeter for me to beat the people in the tournament I’m closest to? I have lifelong friends on that team who I love deeply. I did not want to play the Warriors. Ever. I take no joy in beating my friends…but I also don’t want to lose. No, it was not sweeter to beat my old team. At all. On the contrary, if anything I had more mixed emotions about it than I would have otherwise had. They are a great team with great people and great players, and they have earned every bit of the respect they have from everyone in that tournament.
What a trophy. The organizers outdid themselves with a championship trophy to trump all others. My hope is that the NGFFL will adopt the design that Phoenix used as the official design of the Gay Bowl trophy. It really is special.
Salt Lake City wins their first trophy. Congratulations to the Salt Lake City Avalanche, who won the Consolation Bracket to take home their first Gay Bowl trophy! They beat the Denver Summit in the finals of a fun, high-intensity game.
The Spirit Cup. Phoenix started another great tradition with the Spirit Cup, which goes to the most spirited team at the tournament. This year's winners were the South Florida Cat5, who got the support of the host hotel receptionist and won over everyone. Spirit is such an important part of this tournament, as the friendships we make at the tournament will last longer than any trophy. Congrats to South Florida as the inaugural Spirit Cup winners!
Level of play. It's amazing how high the level of play has gotten in this tournament. Quarterbacks read defenses better, receivers make more catches in traffic, defenders are diving for flags and interceptions.... It's amazing to see the progression of the play of this tournament. It's now impossible to take home a championship without having some collegiate-level players on your team and a quarterback who knows how to attack various forms of defense. Talking to a Boston player after the tournament, he admitted that when my team went to man defense, they simply didn't know what to do because no one runs that in their league (and their quarterback is REALLY good). It's a testament to all of the athletes in the tournament: Anyone would have a tough time defending any stereotype of gay men after watching from the sidelines of this tournament.
The death march. By the time the two finalists got to the championship game, the Warriors had lost their blocker and their middle linebacker was 70%; In the second half, they lost their starting safety. For Los Angeles, we had lost our No. 1 receiver and halfway through the first half we lost our starting cornerback. With the temperature over 100 degrees on Sunday, game seven certainly took its toll.
Documentary. Filmmaker and member of the New York Gay Football League Seth Greenleaf has been following the Phoenix Hellraisers, New York X-Treme, New York Warriors and Los Angeles Motion for the last couple of months for a documentary film on gay football. He certainly got what he wanted, as the Warriors played the X-Treme and Hellraisers, and then New York played Los Angeles in the final. He is an incredibly thoughtful guy, and I'm excited to see the story he weaves around the tournament.
Stock is rising. I was particularly impressed with three teams in the tournament who exceeded most people’s expectations. The Boston Hancocks had some major turnover in personnel on their team, switching their quarterback and other key spots. They turned that into their first semifinal appearance since 2004. The Houston Hurricanes took a giant leap forward, finishing second in their pod for the first time. And the Cleveland Rockers, making their first Gay Bowl appearance, made the championship bracket; They were the first city to make the championship bracket in their first Gay Bowl since the New York Warriors did it in 2005. The Warriors then ran off three straight championships; Could it be a dynasty-in-the-making in Cleveland?
Hall of Fame. It was an incredible honor to be inducted into the first class of the Gay Football Hall of Fame with Jim. The NGFFL and all of its members mean so very much to me. Many thanks to everyone who made that possible. It is very special to me.
Gay Bowl XI will be held in Houston, Texas, Oct. 7-9.
Gay Bowl Champions
1 - Los Angeles Motion
2 - Los Angeles Motion
3 - Washington Monuments
4 - Washington Monuments
5 - Chicago Flames
6 - New York Warriors
7 - New York Warriors
8 - New York Warriors
9 - Los Angeles Motion
10 – Los Angeles Motion
Gay Bowl Consolation Champions (started in 2004)
1 - San Francisco Shockwaves
2 - San Diego Sharks
3 - Dallas Bulls
4 - Atlanta Storm
5 - Chicago Bears
6 - Silicon Valley Crash
7 – Salt Lake City Avalanche
Spirit Cup winners (started in 2010)
1 - South Florida Cat5
Offensive MVP (started in 2009)
1 - Drew Boulton, Los Angeles Motion
2 - Demond Adams, Los Angeles Motion
Defensive MVP (started in 2009)
1 - Brent Sims, Los Angeles Motion
2 - Terrell Calloway, Los Angeles Motion
Tournament MVP (started in 2005, discontinued in 2008)
1 - Will Ward, Chicago Flames
2 - Wade Davis, New York Warriors
3 - Alon Hacohen & Paul Sokolson, New York Warriors
4 - Chad Cooper, DC Metros
Gay Bowl locations
1 – Los Angeles, Calif.
2 – San Francisco, Calif.
3 – Boston, Mass.
4 – Atlanta, Ga.
5 – San Diego, Calif.
6 – Dallas, Texas
7 – New York, N.Y.
8 – Salt Lake City, Utah
9 – Washington, D.C.
10 – Phoenix, Ariz.
11 – Houston, Texas