May 17, 2012
Russ Michna, starting quarterback of the division-leading Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League, was criticized after missing a crucial game last weekend to reportedly attend a wedding. In his absence, the Rush lost 77-43 to the Arizona Rattlers.
The 30-year-old veteran was ripped by Arizona game announcers for his choice. Michna received permission to miss the game at the start of the season, but the team would only refer to his absence as a "personal matter."
Opinions on the quarterback's decision seemed split amongst AFL fans. One message board thread was about 50/50 on Michna's absence. (Messages have been edited for clarity and length.)
• "I am a Rush fan and I am not disappointed nor am I angry. Russ made a choice and put a personal commitment ahead of a minor league football game. I admire that. As for missing time, I bet about 98.5 percent of you out there have taken time off from work for personal reasons."
• "Hmmmm ... $1600 or a once in a life time moment for a friend or family member. This isn't the NFL. The team knew about it since the beginning of the year."
• "Sorry, you don't leave your team to attend a wedding if you're the starting QB, especially if you're playing a game against Arizona."
• "Why even bother playing the sport if you're going to miss the biggest regular season road game of the season and you're the face of the franchise. [...] I'd only give him a pass if it was a close family member getting married; i.e. brother or sister."
Michna is reportedly making $18,000 to play in 18 regular-season games for the Rush. Total. This isn't Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. It's a 30-year-old who passed up a more lucrative job in the business world to hang on to his football career a little longer. Real life takes precedence over dreams, always. Don't think of this as "professional quarterback spurns game for wedding." It's more "regular guy who happens to play football takes a day off to go to a wedding." We've all done it before. And aside from that, owing to cutbacks in the league, Michna is earning $62,000 less this season than he did in his last stint with the Rush. He owes them bupkis.
If you're wondering why Michna's friend or family member scheduled a wedding on a gameday, the date was apparently set before the AFL's schedule came out. Also, if brides had to work around the dates of every athlete around, weddings could only be held on those days immediately before and after the baseball All-Star game.
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