While fans of the Philadelphia Soul can enjoy the fact that their team gets an extra year as the Arena League defending champions, it also means that they’re still waiting for that free Bon Jovi concert. The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s “Gonzo” is on the case.

The guy on the other end of the phone was ticked at me. It happens.

“You know, to bang Jon for this isn’t right,” Ken Sunshine said.

Sunshine is the spokesman for rocker and Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi. (Great name, right? Sunshine, I mean, not Bon Jovi.) When I called to inquire about the free concert Bon Jovi promised the city, Sunshine turned defensive. Mere seconds into the call, I was being accused – politely – of preparing to “bang” his client, which I think means “criticize” in PR speak. At least I hope that’s what it means….

For the unfamiliar, Bon Jovi went on WMMR-FM’s Preston & Steve show last February and promised to perform a free concert in Philadelphia if the Soul somehow managed to win the Arena Football League championship. Shortly after his club emerged victorious in ArenaBowl XXII, Bon Jovi renewed that promise, publicly saying the concert would be held “later this year.”

That was back in July. Last time I looked at the calendar, it’s now February 2009, which is most certainly not the same year as 2008.

So what gives? Was Philly duped by the Jersey hair band front man?

“As indicated, Jon will fulfill his commitment when the schedule for the return of the Soul is clarified,” Sunshine said. “Everything he’s pledged to the fans of Philly regarding the Soul he’s fulfilled. No one can doubt his integrity.”

No. Of course not. Wouldn’t dream of it.

Except, since when was the concert contingent on the AFL’s holding another season? (The league recently canceled the 2009 campaign.) Until now, Bon Jovi and his representatives had never mentioned that proviso. What happens if the schedule isn’t “clarified” and the Soul never return? What happens if the AFL folds for good?

“I don’t know,” Sunshine said.

Now, it always seemed quite clear to me that the free concert was to happen at a Soul game, or before a Soul game, or somehow in conjunction with a Soul game. In fact, you’d almost figure “free” was gonna end up meaning “free with purchase of a football ticket.” It was all about as altruistic as a t-shirt cannon. Still, the guy deserves the “banging.” And it’s nice of Sunshine to take time out to discuss this when he must be busy with John Thain.

(Note: Because this is about Arena Football, I can’t quite bring myself to use the category “Gridiron.)