BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Rashied Davis was upbeat about the future for his buddies in the Arena Football League when the it announced in December it was pulling the curtains on the 2009 season.
A year away would help the league strengthen its foundation and it would return strong as ever. It meant a lot to Davis, who began his professional career with the San Jose franchise and played there four seasons, earning offensive MVP honors for his team.
The Arena Football League is no more, and while it means fewer NFL prospects for teams to go out and scout, it means the loss of an opportunity for a lot of people who are still close to Davis.
"It tears at my heart,'' Davis said this morning. "That kind of sucks. What can you do?''
He's just one player to come from the indoor game and make a career playing in the NFL. Kurt Warner, the two-time NFL MVP, is the poster boy for those looking to go from the minor leagues to the top. Michael Lewis, a former Pro Bowl kick returner for the New Orleans Saints, was discovered in Arena ball. Wide receivers David Patten and Oronde Gadsden honed their games there. Stylez White, the defensive end that was known as Greg White when he was briefly with the Bears, took off in Arena ball and has had 13 sacks over the last two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a training ground for more than a few players.
"When I am done playing some of my fondest memories of playing football will be from Arena,'' Davis said. "Some of my most expensive jewelry is from Arena. I won a couple of championship rings. I thought it was a great family game, it was relatively inexpensive for a big family to go out and enjoy an exciting game of football. There were a whole lot of guys playing Arena football. I have a lot of friends that are going out and getting another job, whatever that might be, in a bad economy. These guys don't have any job experience or anything like that. They've had jobs, but just odd jobs on the side, not a career. That's the tough part.''