New Orleans VooDoo
|New Orleans VooDoo|
Play in Smoothie King Center
in New Orleans, Louisiana
Arena Football League (2004–2005)
Purple, Red, Black, Tan, White
|Mascot||Bones & Mojo|
|Head coach||Pat O'Hara|
|League championships (0)
|Conference championships (0)
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
Division championships (3)
|Playoff appearances (6)|
The original New Orleans VooDoo played in the AFL from 2004–2008, at which point the league suspended operations. During that time they were owned in part by Tom Benson, who also owned the National Football League's New Orleans Saints. In 2010 it was announced that a franchise would be joining the restructured AFL and carrying on the New Orleans VooDoo name and history. On September 14, 2010 it was announced that the Bossier–Shreveport Battle Wings were relocating to New Orleans, and would take up the VooDoo name, logo, colors, and history.
- 1 History
- 2 Notable players
- 3 Arenas
- 4 Notable coaches
- 5 Season-by-season
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Franchise is born
In 1998, New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson, committed to the purchase of an Arena Football League (AFL) team, making him the first National Football League (NFL) owner to do so. On March 7, 2002, Benson announced that he would be fielding a franchise in 2003. However, the VooDoo played their inaugural game on the road against the Philadelphia Soul on February 8, 2004. The game marked the return of the AFL to New Orleans, where the New Orleans Night franchise had played two seasons in 1991–1992. The VooDoo logo consists of a human skull wearing a top hat and sunglasses.
In their first year, they drew big crowds to their home games as they became the second team other than the Orlando Predators or Tampa Bay Storm to win the AFL's Southern Division. The team's average attendance of 15,240 ranked fifth in the league and was a major factor in the VooDoo's 7–1 regular season home record.
In 2005, the team started strong, but later found itself on the wrong end of some close, hard-fought games. With a national television audience and sold-out TD Waterhouse Centre looking on, the VooDoo ended their second regular season against Orlando with both needing a win to reach the playoffs. A second half rally featuring a fumble return for a touchdown by Thabiti Davis brought the VooDoo back into the game briefly, but the VooDoo's backs were broken when a Jay Taylor kickoff hit the iron surrounding the nets and was recovered by the Predators, which, after another touchdown to bring the lead up to 15, effectively sealed the game and ensured the VooDoo would watch the playoffs from home. The final score was 51–40, ending the VooDoo's season at 9–7, a disappointing result for a team widely expected to challenge for the ArenaBowl championship.
Despite the underachievement, the VooDoo proved to be hits with New Orleans for the second consecutive year, with an average attendance of 15,338, good for third in the 17-team AFL, and again had the New Orleans market lead the nation in television ratings for Sunday AFL broadcasts on NBC.
The VooDoo's success and popularity led the AFL to consider placing the ArenaBowl in New Orleans. Although it had already signed a deal with Las Vegas to have the ArenaBowl there for 2005, 2006 and 2007, the league had considered terminating that deal. Had the bidding for ArenaBowl XX begun, New Orleans would have been an early favorite, along with Orlando and Arizona.
On August 28, 2005, it was announced that due to the extensive damage suffered by Hurricane Katrina to the New Orleans Arena, the VooDoo would suspend operations for the 2006 season. Fifteen of the players under contract with the VooDoo were moved to the expansion Kansas City Brigade for the 2006 season.
Return in 2007
In 2007, the VooDoo returned with Mike Neu as the head coach. The team set an AFL season ticket record, selling over 13,000 season tickets. This led to the VooDoo leading in announced attendance as well, drawing 16,645 to their 8 home games, 800 more than the second-place Philadelphia Soul.
The VooDoo started 4–3, before a seven-game losing streak dropped them to 4–10 and eliminated them from the playoff race.
The final record of 5–11 included the first ever victory by the VooDoo over the Orlando Predators, a dominating 67–54 victory over the eventual ArenaBowl XXI champion San Jose Sabercats, a 78–34 nationally televised defeat at the Philadelphia Soul that ranks as the worst loss in franchise history, a 69–63 nationally televised loss to the New York Dragons where the VooDoo used some curious strategy to run the clock down before going for the winning score on fourth down, and a narrow 80–79 defeat at the Dallas Desperados, in which the VooDoo missed a two-point conversion to try to win the game after regulation time expired.
Despite the terrible record, several players were revelations for the VooDoo. Steve Bellisari, a former Ohio State quarterback, took over the starting job from AFL veteran Andy Kelly and showed no signs of giving it back anytime soon as the VooDoo offense became more efficient later in the season. Johnathan Ruffin, a New Orleans native and former Lou Groza award winner, took over kicking duties late in the season and was far more efficient than his predecessor Eric Houle. James Lynch was named to the All-Rookie team at fullback.
The VooDoo were picked by prognosticators to bring up the rear of the AFL after free agent WR Derrick Lewis was injured in training camp. By losing the first game in Los Angeles, and having starting Quarterback Steve Bellisari get hurt, things started to look bleak for the VooDoo. Backup Quarterback Danny Wimprine, from the New Orleans area, took over, and led by a defense that threatened to shatter the AFL record for interceptions in a season, the VooDoo won seven of their next eight games and threatened to run away with the Southern Division. The VooDoo then suffered a collapse, losing six of their last seven games, and missed the Arena Football playoffs for the third consecutive season, finishing 8–8. Speculation ensued about Mike Neu's job as head coach, as the VooDoo suffered four second-half-of-the-season collapses in their four years as a franchise, but early indications were that he would continue to be the coach in 2009.
The New Orleans VooDoo received the Arena Football League's Best Support Staff Award during the ArenaBall Awards Ceremony held in New Orleans on Friday, July 25, 2008.
On October 13, 2008, owner Tom Benson announced the New Orleans VooDoo would not be continuing operations in New Orleans. Reasons given were "circumstances affecting the league and the team."
Rebirth Of the VooDoo
The Arena Football League announced that they will revive the New Orleans VooDoo for the 2010 season. On September 14, 2010, Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Bossier-Shreveport franchise would move their operation to the city of New Orleans. Jason Coffel, who would serve as the vice president of operations for the VooDoo, said owner Dan Newman would cease operations of the Battle Wings in the Bossier-Shreveport City area and immediately become the New Orleans VooDoo. "The reason this is happening is the Arena Football League recognizes how passionate the New Orleans market is about football," Coffel said. "Proof of that is the success of the Saints and the success of the VooDoo when they were around." The rebirth of the franchise and its renewal would not be affiliated with previous owner of the Voodoo, Tom Benson, or the New Orleans Saints.
During the 2011 season, after a home loss to the Spokane Shock, the VooDoo fired head coach Derek Stingley on June 26, 2011. He was replaced by General Manager Jon Norris. At the end of a 3–15 season, Jon Norris went back to being the General Manager. Later on August 8, 2011, he hired Pat O'Hara as the VooDoo's third head coach.
The VooDoo started the 2012 season losing their first two games at home, to the Philadelphia Soul and Milwaukee Mustangs. This brought their home losing streak to 12, dating back to 2008, and concerned fans who did not want a possible AFL record set for futility. However, the VooDoo recovered, and gave fans starved for a winner something to hope for. Aided by a South Division where no team pulled away, a three-game winning streak, including an emotional victory over the Jacksonville Sharks put the VooDoo in first place heading into the final month of the regular season. Unfortunately, the VooDoo dropped their last three games including an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Storm 78–77. Luckily, the team backed into the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Storm losing to the Spokane Shock in the final week. The VooDoo however, fell the following week in the conference semifinals to the Philadelphia Soul, 66–53.
The VooDoo started 2013 off with a dramatic overtime win over the conference rival Orlando Predators. However, as the season progressed, inconsistent play from the offensive line led to injuries and ineffectiveness from starting quarterback Kurt Rocco, while the VooDoo struggled to replace star linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson and defensive back Jeremy Kellem. The record dropped as low as 1-8, but Rocco's return to health has seen the VooDoo start to play better at the right time, in a conference where they never really dropped out of the race for a playoff spot. Chris Dixon took over as starting QB and led the VooDoo to 4 wins in their final 9 games, leading to a win-and-you're-in playoff scenario for the final regular season game at Orlando. Unfortunately, the VooDoo lost 71-42 and finished their season 5-13.
2014 features the much-ballyhooed signing of former LSU quarterback Ryan Perriloux, but Rocco was named the starter again after training camp. As the season started, injuries led to both seeing playing time early, but a poor 1-5 start has hurt the teams playoff chances. However, the one win was against the rival Orlando Predators, and L. J. Castile has become one of the top receivers in the league.
New Orleans VooDoo roster
Refused to report
Other league exempt
Rookies in italics
The following VooDoo players have been named to All-Arena Teams:
- FB/LB Dan Curran (1)
- OL/DL Tim Martin (1), B. J. Cohen (1)
- LB Norman LeJeune (1), Alvin Ray Jackson (1)
- DB Jeremy Kellem (1)
- KR P. J. Berry (1)
The following VooDoo players have been named to All-Ironman Teams:
The following Battle Wings/VooDoo players have been named to All-Rookie Teams:
Smoothie King Center
Note: Statistics are correct through Week 18 of the 2014 Arena Football League season.
|New Orleans VooDoo staff|
- http://www.govoodoo.com/custompage.cfm?pageid=46 "Unknown". www.govoodoo.com. New Orleans VooDoo.
- Sharon Keating. "New Orleans VooDoo - New Orleans' Arena Football Team, The VooDoo". goneworleans.about.com. About.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- "Benson Brings AFL to New Orleans". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. May 13, 2003. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Jeff Walker (March 17, 2002). "NFL owners to vote on expanding arena football partnership". www.jacksonville.com. Jacksonville.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Nakia Hogan (September 14, 2010). "The New Orleans VooDoo and the Arena Football League are returning". www.nola.com. NOLA Media Group. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Rachel Whittaker (October 3, 2012). "New Orleans Voodoo to play 6 of 9 home games in Superdome in 2013". www.nola.com. NOLA Media Group. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- New Orleans VooDoo official web-site
- New Orleans VooDoo at ArenaFan
- New Orleans Voodoo at FunWhileItLasted.net