Arena Football Allows The NFL Dream to Live!

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Updated: February 18, 2013

Baseball was once Americas Past but today, Football is our past time and passion and the biggest event in the month of April will not be the NCAAA championship or anything happening in the NBA including the beginning of the playoffs.  It will not be the opening month of baseball or the Masters, the first Golf major of the year. The number one sporting event of April will be the NFL Draft, an event that features talking heads discussing over a three day period which NFL team got the next superstar or a diamond in the rough that will surprise.

Americans can’t get enough of Football. Immediately after the Super Bowl, fans of the other 31 teams start dreaming of their team winning the Super Bowl.   So every day, Football fans look through the various news stories on which college player is moving up or down the draft lists and for many college football fans; it is high school signing days to see which high school star will be the future star for State U.

And if that is not enough, there is Arena football.  Arena Football is played on a field half the size of a regular football field and eight players on the field.  Just as Canadian Football, forward motion is allowed before the ball is snapped and when you throw in the board, the game resembled hockey as players don’t go out of bounds, they crash in the wall.   For many of these players, there is a dream of NFL.  Kurt Warner is the most famous Arena football alumni as he played for the Des Moines Barnstormer before going on to the NFL and leading to two different teams to the Super Bowl. (Warner led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans.)  One local football pundit mention to me that a few of these may end up in Canada but it is a long shot to the NFL.

One of those players with NFL dream is Juice Williams, who tried out after he left Illinois.  Williams left Illinois with nearly 11,000 in total offense and only four other Big Ten players had more yards than Williams at the conclusion of their careers.  Williams may have left Illinois three years too soon as a mobile quarterbacks and pistol offense are now becoming a significant part of offensive planning.   Williams now plays for the Indoor Football League Chicago Slaughter and last Saturday Night, Williams and his Slaughter faced the Cedar Rapids Titans.

In the first half, Williams outplayed his opposite number as former Stillman College quarterback Charles McCullum as the Slaughter took a 12 to 7 lead but Slaughters should have a bigger lead since they only turned three turnovers into one score.   The 19 points total score is low by Arena Football but the second half, the hometown Cedar Rapids turned it on and outscored Slaughters 31 to 19.  McCullum actually outplayed the former Big Ten star as he threw for four second half touchdowns.

Williams once observed to a reporter, “The biggest transition from outdoor football to arena football is the size of the field. Because the field is smaller, the game speed is much faster and reads have to be made much sooner. Those walls are dangerous as well. I was flipped over a wall last season and it wasn’t the greatest feeling.”  Accuracy in throwing football is the number one skills developed in the Arena football for as Williams observed, there is very little space to throw.  Another aspect of an Arena quarterback, the need to escape and run.  Mobility was the key for both quarterbacks as they escaped pressure and kept drives alive.

Like Willaims, Cedar Rapids Titans kicker Radamez Rubio had his try out with the Dolphins and kicking in Arena Football is not easy as the goal post are half the size of the NFL goal posts.  Even extra points are not automatic with the smaller goal posts.  So if one can kick in the Arena Football with any accuracy, then the bigger goal posts in the NFL would be easy.

The Indoor Football League mixes players from small colleges and bigger schools.  A quarterback from Stillman college found himself going toe to toe with a former Big Ten School. Dreams live on as players still play the sport they love long after those college days.  For Juice Williams, there are dreams still to be realized and with the advent of the pistol offense, quarterbacks with Williams skills are now sought after along with accurate pocket passers. The Arena league is one place where quarterbacks can learn accuracy as they are force to nail passes in little space.

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