The 2017 Jacksonville Sharks find themselves in a new environment this year, deciding to leave the Arena Football League and take part in the National Arena League’s inaugural season under Commissioner John Rodgers.
The Sharks are joined by the Columbus Lions, Leigh Valley Steelhawks, High County Grizzlies, Dayton Wolfpack, Georgia Firebirds, Corpus Christi Rage, and Monterrey Steel.
Little is known about almost all of these teams, all except one. The Sharks are coming in as the most well-known and the team with the most lineage. Out of their seven years in the AFL, the Sharks made the playoffs six times, won their division five times, made two ArenaBowl appearances, and won a last-second classic ArenaBowl against the Arizona Rattlers in 2011, their second year as a franchise.
As well being the most eye-catching team, the Sharks have arguably the two best players in the entire league.
First, fullback Derrick Ross returns to the Sharks for his third consecutive year. Ross has been in the “indoor game” since 2011, he has been named to the All-Arena First team for three consecutive seasons, and broke the league’s all-time rushing record. If Ross can translate his game over into the NAL the Sharks will have maybe the most unstoppable ground game in the league.
The quarterback is without a doubt the most game changing position on the field and the Sharks have the best one in the NAL. Tommy Grady chose to return to the Sharks after being picked first overall in the AFL dispersal draft. During his time in the AFL, Grady was named to the All-Arena First team, won Offensive Plater of the Year, and also took home the 2012 MVP award.
As of 2016, Grady has thrown for 32,000 yards and 701 touchdowns. Grady could very well be eying up his second MVP trophy.
To say the Sharks are a favorite to win the championship in the NAL’s inaugural season would be an understatement. With the reputation of success the Sharks have built at the highest level, Jacksonville should be expecting their second championship in franchise history.