The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles promised fans a lot of fun in their first ever game, and they delivered. The Nebraska Danger won 78-47, but the fan experience was fun nonetheless.
To make the game more fan friendly, the Screaming Eagles released an app that allowed fans to vote on offensive plays. While it was certainly a chaotic game worthy of indoor football, it was also a lot of fun, according to those I talked to at the game.
Here's what the fans of the new franchise had to say before the game and after they'd gotten a chance to call some plays:
Before the game
Two of the youngest fans I talked to before the game were Kyson and Camden Behunin, two brothers who had already given plenty of thought about what kind of plays they wanted to call.
"I want to call a play-action pass, just like Madden," said 8-year-old Kyson. "I like that I get to be like a coach." Other plays the Behunin brothers wanted to see included a wide receiver screen and, of course, a hail Mary.
"It gives the fans a little hands on experience," said Skylar Edwards as he waited to pick up his tickets before the game. "It gives us more stake in what happens. I looked at the app before I came here and I'm excited to see how it works."
"I love it, personally," said former football player Chandler Draper. "The fans are calling out from the stands what to do. It's neat that this is giving fans the opportunity to call the plays."
Sponsors also seem happy with this promotion.
"That was something I thought was really cool, especially with this new league being fan oriented. The fans pick the name of the team. The fans get to call the plays. It's awesome," said Scott Ratchford, who works for Screaming Eagles sponsor 1-800-GOT-JUNK. "I think it's good for the environment and for the community here."
After fans had called plays
It was a wild and wacky game for the fans as they called the plays for the first time. The Screaming Eagles' first two possessions ended in touchdowns for the Nebraska Danger. However, Salt Lake scored for the first time as a franchise in the first quarter, and fans responded by storming the field.
In the first quarter.
"We didn't know what was going on until it was too late," said fan Matt Beecher. "A little chaotic, but it was fun. It was funny. It was great to see the fans involved."
Beecher played his part in voting for the play calls. "There is a play where the two guys run in routes and the tight end runs a wheel. That play there run a couple of times, and it has worked."
Kevin Daniels and Brody Keisel both called plays "off and on" during the first half. "It brings a new element to the game. It's exciting," Daniels said of his play calling.
Not everything went smoothly, however, in the play-calling department. "The first few plays went terrible. They went for negative yards or the other team scored touchdowns," said Daniels.
"It's frustrating as a coach, being the fans, to not get past the 5-yard line in the first several minutes," added Keisel. "I was wondering if we were going to get fired in the first few minutes," he added with a laugh.
Still, they had plenty of positive things to say about the overall experience.
"I think that the overall fan experience is unusual and heightened. Like them rushing the field. That was pretty cool," Daniels said. "It's more interactive on the whole. Not just the play-calling, but the fan experience."
Even fans who haven't had the chance to call the plays have enjoyed the moment.
"I'm interested to see if they have this kind of thing on the weekend," said fan Tom Lujan. "I'm absolutely having fun."
Perhaps that's the best description of the Screaming Eagles' first night. Yes, it was chaotic, but it was certainly fun for the fans.
Social media reactions
Here's what some folks had to say on social media about the Screaming Eagles' first game:
Loving my team. It's your team too. Talking about @SLScreamEagles. In the booth. History. pic.twitter.com/7TcROVkQF1— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) February 17, 2017
That was incredible. Calling the plays. Rushing the field. This ain't your granddaddy's indoor football!!!!!!!— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) February 17, 2017
Not the result we were hoping for but hope you enjoyed witnessing history in the making! #TallonsUp pic.twitter.com/qCju2om6il— Fan Controlled Football (@fcflio) February 17, 2017
And the fans storm the field to celebrate the first TD! #TalonsUp #NEBvsSLC @SLScreamEagles pic.twitter.com/MU59ctBnyG— The F.A.N. Show🎙 (@FANShowOfficial) February 17, 2017