SFL to add Albuquerque and Nashville for Season 23

by Cameron Irvine

The Simulation Football League announced today its promotion of the Albuquerque Atoms and the Nashville Tempo to the SFL starting in Season 23, which kicks off at the SFL Convention July 12-14 in League City, Texas just south of Houston. These two teams are being awarded expansion bids, but will carry over their respective histories in the minor league. They are the first two teams to ever be promoted through expansion under the league's new minor league ownership structure.

The two teams will replace the departing Portland Fleet and Jacksonville Kings, who announced their intentions to fold earlier this season after 8 and 18 seasons in the league, respectively. 

The league is still finalizing its team roster for Season 23 and a finalized divisional alignment will be made public once that process has concluded.

Albuquerque is a three-time SFLm champion, winning titles in Seasons 2, 5 and 6. The league will be entering its ninth season this May, of which both Albuquerque and Nashville will take part along with the six other SFLm teams from last season. The Atoms and Tempo will continue their minor league programs through the conclusion of the 2024 SFLm season in December, as will any SFLm ownership group called to lead SFL teams in the Summer 2024 campaign. 

"This is an exciting time for Albuquerque," said owner Joshua Williams. "It has been a long wait but our time has finally come. We are excited for the opportunity to compete in the SFL. We want to thank Commissioner Cameron Irvine for giving us an opportunity to showcase what we can bring to the league. We also want to thank all of the former and present Atoms players, coaches, and staff. We appreciate each and every one of you because without none of this would be possible."

The Atoms are led by brothers Joshua and Jason Williams, becoming the second brotherly ownership group following in the footsteps of Carolina's Harish and Shravan Prasad. Both Williams brothers have had brilliant SFL careers. Jason earned championship status as a fullback for the Alaska Storm and is currently in his 12th season. Joshua Williams has won a SFL title in Atlanta and is also in his 12th season of playing. He has guided Albuquerque to the most wins in SFLm history. The team boasts over 75 alumni and will try to become the first team in SFL history to win titles in both leagues. Joshua has assisted all of the teams with graphics and promotional materials for social media and has been an intracule part of keeping the Atlanta Swarm one of the top teams in retention and competition year in and year out.

"Joshua is someone that has experience building teams, guiding new players and going above and beyond to help support the league all these years," said Commissioner Cameron Irvine. "It is clear that in an environment where it is increasingly more challenging to build a competitive and complete roster, the Williams brothers should have no problem delivering a great product in the SFL. They are a critical component of SFL history and are absolutely deserving of this chance and opportunity."

The Nashville Tempo are led by San Diego's Danny Carmichael and Tanner Hendrix, alongside D.C.'s James Walters were a new addition to SFLm just last season where the team competed for a championship in its first year. Carmichael isn't as well known as the Williams brothers, but anyone who has spoken with Danny knows his passion for the game and the league is rarely matched. In just his second season in the league, he's the league's rising star. Walters provides the veteran experience that is needed to run a franchise. His presence at the 2022 Las Vegas SFL Convention was a step forward in his league involvement. In his eighth season as a player in the SFL, he provides stability to whatever franchise he is a part of.

"Listening to Nashville's plan of attack of this opportunity - it's just simply not the kind of impressed that happens everyday," Irvine said. "These guys have a plan on and off the field and they are executing. Their first season in the minor league's was a big success and they managed to do many things well very quickly. This is a franchise that won't need hand-holding and that has a clear vision. It is going to be electric watching them take on the brightest and best teams of the SFL."

"We are excited and honored to get the promotion to the SFL," said Nashville owner Danny Carmichael. "We’d like to thank Cam and the rest of the league staff for the opportunity and for all the hard work they put into this league to make it the best football sim league out there. We'd also like to thank every former Madison and Nashville player as you've set the foundation for the continued success of the franchise. We’re looking forward to showing the SFL what we’re capable of at the pro level.”

The Portland Fleet exit the SFL with a 33-61 overall record over eight seasons with two games remaining. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs in their time, but were one of the top teams over the last few years in player retention - it was often a place many wanted to play. The team's final game will be at Seattle the weekend of April 12. 

The Jacksonville Kings compiled a 126-105 record over a whopping 18 seasons of competition with two games remaining after being awarded an expansion team in Season 5, in the first group of expansion teams in SFL history that included the D.C. Dragons and the-now Mexico City Aztecs. The Kings made Championships in Seasons 10 and 11, but lost to the rival Storm. Owner Frank Goodin filmed the SFL documentary 'A New Frontier' and has won the 5th-most games in league history. Sadly, the team has struggled to compete in recent years with it's last playoff win coming in Season 15 (2020) coupled with four-straight losing seasons. Jacksonville's last game will be against Canton the weekend of April 12. Both team leaders will be missed as they venture off into new life challenges. 

We'll find out where players from these teams land this off-season during the free agency period.