Mount Olive, N.C. - University of Mount Olive assistant track coach Clayton Parros spent his summer training and practicing with his flag football teammates in the NFL American Flag Football League (AFFL). The Athletic Communications office interviewed Parros regarding his experience participating in the AFFL.
Parros first found out about the league last year when the AFFL held a 'pilot' game. The reaction to the American Flag Football game was well received so the league decided to hold a "Joes vs Pros" tournament this year which included professional football players and professional athletes from other sports including lacrosse and track & field to name a few.
"Having been a professional track and field athlete I figured I may have had a good shot at earning a spot on one of the pro teams, so I contacted the league for information on how I could get involved," said Parros. "The AFFL office responded to my inquiry saying that each team needed at least two people who were not pro football players. Myself being a former pro track athlete fit the requirements nicely, I sent the league office some footage from when I tried out with some NFL/CFL teams and waited for a response. About a week later I heard back from them and was informed that Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson had picked me to be a part of his team!"
Parros played alongside former NFL standouts Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Fred Jackson, from the Buffalo Bills, on Team Ocho which is captained by Johnson. To view the full roster for Team Ocho click here.
Parros shared that his teammates were great communicating with him on how to move and respond on offense and defense while also letting him learn the hard way as well. "Overall, the most fun part of training is learning the routes and defense. You need a different level of stop-go type fitness that I'm not used to so I've been preparing that way, but learning why you run certain routes and why certain defenses work in certain situations has been very fun for me. The most difficult part of preparation along those lines is the fitness and learning how to respond in certain situations. The Stop-go type of fitness has been tough but I think I've done a good job prepping."
Prior to the first game, 'Team Ocho' went out to Dallas to scrimmage Justin Forsett's team where Parros said, "I got a chance to do some learning in real time and it was awesome."
"I have parents in the entertainment industry, and having been on Team USA, around other professional athletes in the past, I have been around some pretty famous people, so I can't say I get star struck very much," said Parros when asked if he got star struck around the professional football players. "I've met many of my idols and they are all regular people like me, so I picture them more that way than a big star. They are just normal people with a large following."
The AFFL has six general rules that run the game. To view all the rules of the AFFL you can click here.
- Teams consist of 12 man rosters and play 7-on-7.
- The games are the traditional 60 minutes but are played over two 30 minute halves instead of the four 15 minute quarters played in the NFL.
- The clock continues to run the entire game, except for the final minute of the first half and the last two minutes of the second half.
- The playing field divided into four 25-yard boxes, and first downs are awarded each time the offense reaches the next box
- There is no blocking, kicking, or fumbles.
- And only one lateral pass is allowed per play.
"The exciting thing about the league is its football, but at a much different pace, and a different challenge," stated Parros. "There is no full impact, going for flags, and no pad restrictions, which makes for a much faster game than regular football. I am also getting a chance to put my skills up against some other former NFL and NBA guys, as well as people from sports like lacrosse, it's cool to see how we all stack up against each other. "
Parros continued by saying, "my track background helps because as you might guess I have a slight speed advantage. When it comes to the open field there aren't many people who can keep up. There are other former track athletes that are participating so they match up well, but there aren't many people with a background like mine so I think that plays in my favor."
The AFFL semifinals were held the weekend of July 7-8. Parros and his teammates competed against the Roadrunners, captained by Michael Vick, on July 7th in the pro championship semifinals. Team Ocho defeated the Roadrunners 25-13 to advance on to the pro championship game where they were slated to face Godspeed. Team Ocho took on team Godspeed on July 14 in the championship game and fell 28-12. Team Godspeed, the Professional Champion, will face America's Champion, Fighting Cancer, in the $1 million winner-take-all Ultimate Final on Thursday, July 19 at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network.
Fans can watch videos about the American Flag Football League on the organizations Youtube Channel here.