Arena Football League (1992-1993)
Born: 1991 – AFL expansion franchise.
Died: October 1993 – The Rockers withdraw from the Arena Football League.
Arena: Riverfront Coliseum (15,500)
Team Colors: Green, Yellow & White
Owner: Ted Gregory
Short-lived entry in the Arena Football League active for two summers in 1992 and 1993.
Unusual among Arena Football teams of the era, the Cincinnati Rockers employed ex-NFL quarterbacks in both of their campaigns. The starter in 1992 was gambling casualty Art Schlichter, twice banned from the NFL by Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Schlichter found a revival of sorts in the Arena League, winning Most Valuable Player honors in 1990 as the signal caller for the league champion Detroit Drive. It was a modest rebound – Schlichter was one of the highest paid players in the AFL in 1992, but that still only meant a salary of $40,000 annually. The Rockers thrived at first with Schlichter under center in 1992. The team went 7-3 and made the playoffs as Schlichter passed for 45 touchdowns. But late in the season the former Ohio State star fell back into his old ways and was arrested for passing a bad check. Schlichter left the team after the 1992 season and never played another down of pro football. He spent much of the next decade in prison.
The Rockers tried to rebuild in 1993 around former NFL journeyman Blair Kiel at quarterback. Unlike Schlichter, Kiel struggled to pick up the indoor game and ended up splitting time with Brent Pease, a former replacement QB for the Houston Oilers during the 1987 NFL strike. Pease couldn’t rally the Rockers either, and the franchise regressed to a league-worst 2-10 record, matched only by the Rockers’ in-state rival, the Cleveland Thunderbolts.
Other former NFL notables who played for the Rockers included former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ira Hillary and ex-New England Patriots running back Tony Collins.
After a promising start at the box office in 1992, the Rockers’ attendance crashed through the floor in 1993. Owner Ted Gregory, the late Cincinnati rib baron, shuttered the faltering club in late 1993. Gregory later sold off the inactive franchise certificate to Connecticut investors and the ex-Rockers franchise became the Hartford-based Connecticut Coyotes in 1995.
==Cincinnati Rockers Games on Fun While It Lasted==
|1992||5/30/1992||vs. Detroit Drive||W 37-34||Video|
|1993||7/3/1993||@ Tampa Bay Storm||L 61-51||Program|
Former Rockers owner Ted Gregory passed away on December 2, 2001 at age 78.
Ex-Rockers quarterback Blair Kiel died of a heart attack on April 8, 2012. Kiel was 50 years old.
Rockers inaugural game at the Riverfront Coliseum on May 30, 1992. Art Schlichter leads the Rockers to a 37-34 upset over his former team, the Detroit Drive before 13,317 fans.