Power owner hopes for return to normalcy

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pittsburgh Power owner Matt Shaner said Saturday that all but two players -- quarterback Kyle Rowley and kicker Taylor Rowan -- will be welcomed back to the team this week, even though he fired the entire roster before the season opener against the Orlando Predators.

"They just don't fit the character of our organization," Shaner said. "We need to have a cohesive team unit. You may have skill and talent, but if you are not a team player, you just don't fit how Pittsburgh operates."

Shaner gave no other reason why those players were singled out and will not return.

"Most of the rest of the players, to my knowledge, will re-sign with the team," he said. "They said they want to play football, they love the organization, they want to get prepared for Philadelphia (the next game March 23). Everything will be back to normal."

He said 10 players decided to leave the union, sign new contracts and play in the game.

"Numerous players said they worked too hard (to quit) and they love this organization," Shaner said.

Meanwhile, Rowley said union executive director Ivan Soto did not declare a strike until after the players from both teams were fired. He said "loyalty to his teammates" prevented him from playing.

On Saturday, Rowley and six Power players rode 17 hours from Orlando, Fla., to Pittsburgh in a van rented and driven by Arena Football League players union president James Baron. Power officials did not make arrangements for the fired players to return to Pittsburgh.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Rowan said the team removed his personal items from an apartment -- paid for by the team -- while he returned from Florida.

Rowley said playing in the game never was an option for him.

"You have to stand with your brothers," Rowley said. "If a man says he is going to do something, a man should do it. I don't think that's an opinion. It's a fact."

But Rowley said he understands why some players decided to play.

"They were put in such an awkward situation," he said. "I believe those guys were scared for their jobs and their livelihood."

Rowley, who has played indoor football every year since 2003, doesn't know what he will do next, although he wants to continue his career. Shaner said Friday that Rowley will never play for the Power.

"I know Matt Shaner had some unkind words to say about me," Rowley said. "I forgive him. I don't know if I want to play football in Pittsburgh for the Power under what they are doing. There were some decisions made that were really dumb.

"I would love to play arena football. I live for arena football."

Rowley, 33, said he doesn't know when that will happen.

"I don't know my options," he said. "I'm just trying to get home right now."

Meanwhile, AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz said negotiations aimed at negotiating a collective bargaining agreement will continue.

Shaner also addressed a report from the NFL Network on Friday that the Power went against an agreement with the Predators to play only five players from the original rosters.

The Predators had only five players from their preseason roster; the Power had 10. The teams filled out their rosters with players who had been working out in Orlando in the event of a work stoppage.

"There was no deal in place," Shaner said. "As the game went on, deals were being cut to keep the game fair."

The Power won, 40-26.

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