NEW ORLEANS When Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi left his seat Sunday to head down to his team's locker room to celebrate the franchise's first ArenaBowl title, it was before the San Jose SaberCats scored 14 points in 11 seconds to suddenly put the outcome of the game in doubt.
Once he got to field level at the New Orleans Arena, Bon Jovi was handed the commemorative hat and T-shirt that went to the winners of the game.
"It was heart-wrenching," Bon Jovi said after the Soul held on for a 59-56 victory. "I left that box confident. I said, 'OK, folks, let's go down and get us a trophy.' Suddenly, it's a three-point game, and I dropped the hat and shirt. I didn't want to touch them (again) until we earned it. These guys deserve a pat on the back today. This is their moment."
It wasn't until the Soul's Rod Davis recovered an onside kick with 15 seconds left that Bon Jovi and the players could begin to relax.
Soul quarterback Matt D'Orazio, who was presented with a yellow convertible Mitsubishi Eclipse after being named the game's most valuable player, took three deep drops and then threw the ball into the stands each time to run out the clock.
The team from Philadelphia was officially the champion.
"Let's just say that the (championship) ring is going to be tasteful, timeless and classy," said Bon Jovi, who said he will follow through on his pledge to give a free concert in Philadelphia if the Soul won the Arena Football League crown. "It's not going to be so ostentatious that it takes two knuckles to fit."
One player who will be especially happy to slip that ring on his finger is Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson, a nine-year veteran who has put together a career that has him among the AFL's all-time leaders in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
He set regular-season Soul team records in all three categories.
While D'Orazio completed 26 of 43 pass attempts for 302 yards and seven scores he also ran for a touchdown Jackson was named the ArenaBowl's offensive player of the game after hauling in 11 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Like D'Orazio, Jackson just finished his first season with the Soul. The acquisition of both players was orchestrated by Soul president and general manager Ron Jaworski, the former Eagles quarterback who started in Super Bowl XV in New Orleans.
"It meant everything to me being a part of this team they put together," said Jackson, who was named the AFL's offensive player of the year earlier this month.
"I didn't want it to be a year where you receive personal accolades, and then come this far and fall short. I know how hard it is to get here from that perspective. One little mistake, and it doesn't work in your favor."