Raptors fall 41-30; announcer quits during game

Due to a rain-out at Rockford Speedway April 29, I had my first opportunity to attend a Rockford Raptors indoor football game.

The Raptors lost the game to the visiting Omaha Beef, 41-30.

The game, however, was a side item to the drama going on behind the scenes.

During pre-game festivities, public address announcer Sky Drysdale and team owner Art Clarkson had some heated verbal exchanges. Things settled for a while, but started again after Drysdale began doing player introductions.

Drysdale announced the name and number of the first player to come out from the tunnel. After more than a minute of silence, no one appeared. Drysdale repeated the introduction, and still no one came out.

Clarkson became agitated and questioned Drysdale about starting early. Finally, the players came out of the tunnel, and the introductions proceeded.

Things seemed to go fine until somewhere during the first quarter. This time, Drysdale put down his headset and microphone and walked off the job. Jamie Newell, the Raptors media/public relations director, took over the public address announcer duties. Clarkson remained at Newell’s side for the remainder of the game.

This is not the first altercation between Clarkson and an announcer. Prior to the start of the season, Bob Ace, former Rockford Lightning announcer, was slated to do the job. When reached by phone, Ace said that during a pre-season scrimmage game, he and Clarkson had a “difference of opinion,” and he decided he did not want the position. Ace declined any further comment.

In a phone interview, Newell said: “We will have a meeting on Monday (May 1st) to discuss this situation further. Clarkson is a person who has been in this business 32 years, and likes things done his way.”

Next Raptors’ home game is slated for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6, against Bloomington. Mountain Dew and FOX-39 are sponsoring Raptor Rally towel night. The first 3,000 fans will get a complimentary Raptors Rally towel.

From the May 5-9, 2006, issue

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