Jonathan Bane is Back but Not in the NAL…

“Oh, you think Indoor Football is your ally. But you merely adopted the sport; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!” this of course is a slightly modified quote from the popular movie “The Dark Knight”, the character Bane was discussing his fondness for darkness, but in this case we are talking about Jonathan Bane.

Bane an Indoor Football Legend

Jonathan Bane, a longtime indoor football quarterback, currently is listed on the refuse-to-report list for the San Antonio Gunslingers of the National Arena League. While we won’t be getting into what led to his decision to spurn the Gunslingers, what we will discuss is where he has landed. Bane left to figure out his next move knowing the Gunslingers weren’t for him, was contacted by the Iowa Barnstormers head coach Dave Mogensen. Coach Moges as some call him, has recent ties to the NAL from his time with the Albany Empire in 2021, and he played on those ties when he began looking for another quarterback following the knee injury to Darius James Peterson.

Bane and coach never directly crossed paths, but both men were aware of each other due to their standing in the sports world. This aided Bane’s decision, knowing he could avoid playing for the Gunslingers, without waiting for a trade that may never come. Instead, he will likely deal with a short-term suspension in the NAL, by playing out the season with the Barnstormers.

Zach Reader, and His Rookie Struggles

Given how much Darius James Peterson relies on his legs in the Iowa offense, there is no promise that even if his ACL is intact that DJP can come back and be the same player right away. Zach Reader was the backup prior to the injury. He entered the game against Green Bay on the road and played fairly well given the circumstances, completing 11 of 20 passes for 87 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception adding 6 carries for 20 yards. Per coach: “I’m honestly pretty comfortable with Zach Reader, guy has been a wizard at times with the scout team, and made some really great throws Friday.” Speaking about last week’s game.

The main knock on Reader, is his lack of experience, something Bane comes in with plenty of. The thought here is quite obviously that the Barnstormers need to turn around this team fast in order to stay competitive. In order to achieve this quick turnaround, bringing in a veteran makes a lot of sense.

Storied Indoor Football Career

Jonathan Bane got his start in indoor/arena football in 2014. Signing with the Richmond Raiders hailing from Virginia, The Texas native adapted to the indoor game quickly. By his second season with the team, he led them on a storybook run that fell just shy of a championship victory against the Columbus Lions. Along the way he collected Professional Indoor Football League Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All PIFL, on the strength of a season in which he passed for over 2,700 yards and 55 touchdowns. After the 2015 season the Raiders folded and Bane was left looking for a new home.

He would sign with the Tampa Bay Storm, of the Arena Football League. Founded in 1987 as one of the first teams to join the AFL, the Storm folded in 2017. The Storm were one of the most successful franchises ever to play in the AFL making the playoffs their first 19 seasons straight, and 24 times over their 31 seasons. Bane gets to lay claim to being one of the last quarterbacks to play for the Storm. After joining the team as a backup, Bane would step in for injured starter Adam Kennedy. During Kennedy’s absence Bane managed 46 of 97 for 526 yards, 8 tds, 4 ints, adding 16 yards rushing. He was placed on recallable reassignment in May of 2016 ending his stint with Tampa.

In 2017, Bane jumped into his third professional indoor football league. This time with the Champions Indoor Football League, and the Bismarck Bucks, that recently had to take a hiatus from the IFL where they now reside. The Bucks were an expansion team added to the CIFL that year, in search of a quarterback to lead their team. During that season Bane played in Seven games and managed impressive numbers, including 1,342 yards passing, 28 tds, 8 ints, adding 3 more rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately an injury ended his season early leading him to be placed on injured reserve.

In 2018, he was announced as the first player signed by the Maine Mammoths an expansion team just added to the National Arena League. They were the first ever professional indoor football team in Maine. Led by Rob Storm an NAL executive and previously a member of the Tampa Bay Storm, as well as other prominent members of the NAL. The Mammoths were short lived, and after what was the equivalent of a pump and dump of a football team, the men who formed the team attempted to sell the franchise to local ownership who never brought the team back. Bane led a resurgence in this team despite a 2-8 start winning 5 straight to end the year.

By 2019, Bane decided to stick in the NAL this time with the Jacksonville Sharks. The owner of the Sharks had been involved in the Mammoths as well and apparently liked what he saw in Bane. Bringing Bane to the Sharks was a smart move, as it ended up helping them to the playoffs. After an amazing start to the season that saw him atop the leader board in multiple categories for Jacksonville, he was injured and placed on IR after week 8. Returning just in time for the playoffs, Bane played one of his best games ever, in which he completed 100% of his passes, he would lead his team to a Championship Victory in 2019.

Not This Cowboy’s First IFL Rodeo

Despite this all important championship win, Bane once again moved on, this time to the IFL. His fifth professional football league at this point. He would sign with his home state’s Frisco Fighters in 2020 prior to the season being cancelled. He chose to stick around in 2021 when the team returned as well. He played in 9 games, but still placed 7th in passing yards, 10th in completion rate, and 5th in passing touchdowns. He managed 116 of 190 or 61.1% for 1,188 yards 25 tds to just 4 interceptions. This placed him 7th among quarterbacks who threw more than 7 passes in efficiency rating.

However headed into 2022 Bane once again moved on. This time he returned to the NAL this time with the Carolina Cobras. The Cobras had hired James Fuller a man Bane knew well, as their head coach. Fuller had been the head coach of the Richmond Raiders their entire existence, then he was hired by the Maine Mammoths as their head coach. After they folded, he was hired by the Jacksonville Sharks as their defensive coordinator. By 2022 he had moved on to Carolina as their head coach. Meaning Bane would spend his 5th season working closely with Fuller.

During the 2022 season Bane was again one of the most prolific passers in the league. He would miss some time which led him to be third in passing yards, touchdowns, with 2,375 yards and 48 touchdowns behind only Robert Kent and Sam Castronova. However Bane led the league in passing yards per game with 237.5. Bane also helped wide receiver D.J. Myers back to the outdoor game. He signed with the USFL after catching 68 passes for 842 yards and 17 tds.

Over Promise, Under Deliver

Heading into the 2023 season Bane was quickly signed in free agency much like the season before when Carolina pounced. This time it was San Antonio that made big promises to lure the free agent to town. Since then, Bane has soured on the idea of playing in San Antonio for the Gunslingers. (Brahmas, if you’re listening…give him a call) This left his next move very up in the air. It was this uncertainty that led Coach Moges to reach out with little more than hope, and a stacked offensive unit to go on.

With this approach it became apparent Bane was receptive to a return to the IFL. So Coach Mogensen gave him the respect a legend deserves and allowed him some time to weigh out his options before making a decision on his career. The 31 year old has carved out an impressive career, and often times done so with less talent around him, maybe coach Moges knew somewhere in the back of his mind he had the firepower to convince Bane to come to Iowa, or perhaps this was the equivalent of that famous Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary thrown on a prayer. Regardless of what it was or how it came about, Jonathan Bane is headed to Iowa to play for the Barnstormers in DJP’s absence.

Congratulations Iowa Fans…your season was just brought back from the brink of failure.

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