The Pittsburgh Power, the city’s professional arena football team, are having their best season, ever. They’re undefeated at home at Consol Energy Center and just clinched their first-ever playoff berth. While they don’t get as much recognition as the Steelers, what is life like for the men who play in the arena league?
Tommy Grady is the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Power and says the differences between the two leagues are vast.
“The game of arena football is a lot quicker, the field’s about half the size. We play on that hard turf, which is pretty hard on our bodies. The biggest thing is the speed and quickness of the game. A lot of guys have played in the NFL before, and it’s hard to adjust to the game.”
Grady has played football all his life. He transferred from the University of Oklahoma to the University of Utah after two years in college. With big-time NFL players coming out of his alma mater, Grady explained why he did not chose the NFL path.
“It’s a hard business, you’ve got younger guys coming out every year. I feel like I’ve proven myself in this league, and I’ve gotten workouts with NFL teams and stuff. It’s a business, and the younger you are, usually, the more NFL teams like you. Every year there’s 50 new quarterbacks and it’s definitely a tough business, but I honestly enjoy my time in the arena league and I’m having a lot of fun. I get to throw the ball every play, so, can’t complain there.”
Players sometimes have to hold down a second job, or a job in the offseason to support themselves and their families while chasing their AFL dreams. Grady says he is fortunate enough to not be one of those players.
“I’m happy being here in the arena football league. I love it. I’m having a lot of fun. We’re winning. I can take care of my family and have a good time at the same time.”