First, tell me how the AFL is going for you – and what you like about playing foe the Baltimore team?
My time here has been awesome. I’ve been here for two years now. Unfortunately we had a tough ending to the season last year – we lost in the Arena Bowl Championship. But we made great strides since we were 4-12 the year before. We’re building something special here!
How did your AFL career get started?
It’s a crazy story really. I was with the Giants in 2015, and afterwards I started training hard and looking for the next opportunity to play football. My brother also played football and called me and asked if I wanted to try out for an Arena Football team. I told him I didn’t know about that – I didn’t know much about the AFL then. It was all new to me. Well, he called the LA Kiss coach and they flew us in. That’s how it all got started. I was excited because I wanted the opportunity to play with my brother!
How hard was the adjustment to the AFL?
The Arena League is a totally different game. The running in motion before the ball is snapped makes it a fast-paced game and more fan friendly. The field is smaller too – so there’s less room for error. It’s way faster than the NFL. The rosters are smaller. And the fields you play on – you have to wear soccer cleats or sometimes even tennis shows. Its totally different. There was a huge learning curve no doubt.
Your professional football career started in the NFL of course – with Baltimore. How did you end up in Pittsburgh?
It did start with the Ravens yes. I had a great training camp there, but you know how it is with undrafted guys. I had a good preseason too – I had two interceptions.
But I was cut anyway. Terry Carter was a college teammate and was in Pittsburgh at the time. He called me and told me he got hurt. and was let go. I was mad for him. Not two minutes after I hung up with him the phone rang and it was the Steelers. They wanted to bring me in. I was happy but also g=felt awful because I knew it happened because Terry got hurt.
I played well for them in the preseason – had an interception. I made the team and was put on the practice squad. I got called up when Ike got hurt and started against Dallas in 2013. That’s when my career took off.
Did anyone help you most in Pittsburgh and take you under their wing?
There were a lot of guys who did in Pittsburgh, Ryan Clark, Mike Wallace, Ike Taylor – they were all from Louisiana and showed a lot of love for me.
Clark showed me how to be a professional football player. Keenan Lewis was there too and he showed me a lot of how to play the position. At the time we had arguably the best secondary in the NFL. I learned a lot about how to prepare every week. Troy and Clark were the leaders of the defense and it was crazy to see how much film study they did. Troy spent hours every day watching film and learned how to read the tendencies of the teams we played, He was gutsy to try some of those plays he made. Teams know you watch tape and read their tendencies and switch things up too!
And fun stories of your time there?
Oh yeah. One time in the locker room someone was interviewing me and they asked me who had the best hair on the team. That’s when Troy had the Head and Shoulders commercial on tv. Well I had dreadlocks and I thought about it quickly, then told them “Me!” Well, Troy ran over to him and yelled “No way!” Everyone laughed – it was totally unexpected!
So, what’s the next step for you? If you get a call from an NFL team, will you take it?
Well, I’m older so I don’t expect it, but if a call comes I’d be jubilant. But I’m here and like it here. I want to be the best in this league. For now, I’m trying to be the best player I can be. I want to make the most of it. I have five years left in me I think of good football. So for me, it’s just about being the best football player this league has ever seen.
Ok – so if you played the Steelers or another NFL team – what are your odds of winning?
Ha! Well, what are the rules? If we played AFL rules I think people would be shocked! If we can have our guys in motion I think we can cause a lot of havoc!
Any last thoughts before I let you go?
It was great talking about those old times. I know it was only five years ago but it feels longer! Playing in front of tens of thousands of people in those stadiums. Starting against Dallas was amazing.
I know guys are getting cut now in the NFL after the last preseason game. For those guys, they should know they need to keep going. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. Keep grinding. You have to know you can still make it.
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