They do it at Wal-Mart and at the tire shop. They do it at the grocer's and the department store, too.

And now they're doing it with the Arizona Rattlers: Offering a customer-is-always-right, money back guarantee.

This is, after all, America. Land of the free, home of the about-face. A place where nothing is permanent except death, taxes and Brett Favre. A place where you can get a tattoo of your true love on your lower back and still get it removed after the breakup. Where you can drive a car for a few days and return it; order furniture on the Internet and ship it back if it doesn't match the color of your wallpaper.

America, where you can buy a set of knives and back out even after you've tried them; purchase a new outfit and wear it for a night, and still take it in for a refund. You can order the char-grilled fillet mignon and send it back to the chef if it's even slightly overcooked; wear a new pair of eyeglasses for a week and return them if your eyes go buggy.

Pretty much everything is refundable or exchangeable these days.

Even football tickets.

The high-risk Arizona Rattlers rolled into Salt Lake, Saturday, to open the Arena Football League season, banking on success. The team that went 4-12 last year has guaranteed fans it will be one of 12 teams to make the playoffs, or the season ticketholders will get their money refunded.

That's a gutsy call, even if there are only five AFL teams that don't make the post-season, and only two in the Western Conference.

Still, you gotta like the attitude.

"I'm confident we'll get to the playoffs," said Rattlers coach Kevin Guy. "I'm very confident we have the athletes to get there, no question about it."

Interesting concept, really. A guarantee of quality in sports.

If that policy had been in place in Miami, the Dolphins may have been bankrupt by now.

The Rattlers made good on their first try with a 63-62 season-opening win over the Utah Blaze at EnergySolutions Arena. Reliable Blaze kicker Steve Videtich, a former AFL roommate of Guy, hit the upright on the Blaze's final play, sending the Rattlers home with a win.

"I looked up on that field goal and saw our team owners standing over there saying hail Marys," said Guy.

Opening night, of course, is always a sensory overkill in Arena Football. Every game night is an event, if you want to get technical: scads of touchdowns, music crashing down from the sound system, mascots, cheerleaders, motorcycles, sirens, smoke, flames, and ticker tape.

And, as always, fan participation.

That tends to happen when the players are close enough to touch — and often are.

This year's opener was as frenetic as always, filled with scoring and, well, more scoring. In fact, the Blaze scored on every possession on the first half, until the last. That was when they hit their first speed bump, fouling up on a field goal snap. Utah then failed to score on the first two possessions of the second half.

The teams remained close throughout, but Videtich missed a PAT with 5:45 to go. After an Arizona touchdown, the Blaze settled in for the final score but the 36-yard kick attempt was off.

"I was his teammate," said Guy, "I know he can make those."

But in this case, he didn't. Which may not have done much for the Blaze, but it did a lot for the the management and owners of the Rattlers, who didn't want to get in a hole in a hurry.

Which brings up the obvious question: Why don't all teams make that sort of guarantee?

The obvious answer is that somebody has to lose.

No reason for everyone to bet the farm.


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