TAMPA — The Orlando Predators, one of the most successful franchises in the Arena Football League, are suspending operations, they announced Wednesday. The Predators cited the reduced number of teams remaining in the league — seven with Orlando's exit — and "pending disagreements with the league," they said on their website.
Orlando won two ArenaBowl championships and reached the championship game seven times in the franchise's 25 years.
The Storm was its biggest rival; their games were nicknamed the "War on I-4." The Storm and Predators played 61 times, eight in the playoffs, and Orlando led the all-time series 34-27.
"We are saddened to see our biggest rival close its doors and no longer operate," Storm president Derrick Brooks, the Bucs' Hall of Fame linebacker, said in a statement. "However, we will continue to support the Arena Football League and are looking forward to the upcoming 2017 season."
Jay Gruden, current coach of Washington in the NFL, played for the Storm and the Predators. Gruden became coach of the Predators in 1998 and led them to a 62-31 thumping of the Storm in ArenaBowl XII. Gruden won another championship in 2000. He then played quarterback for the Predators in 2002 and 2003.