5 NFL players for a Flag American Football Team - Part 2
After Academy coach Will Babbington kick started a discussion on which 5 NFL players he'd have in a flag American Football team, Academy Director Michael Cluskey has replied in detail below:
By Michael Cluskey, Academy Director
I’ve been known to enjoy the odd game of flag American Football in my time, that is, until I saw some film of it. Let me be clear here, inside of every offensive lineman’s head as they play a game of flag football is the visualisation of themselves as a lithe, supple gazelle, bounding downfield and then, they gracefully leap – Salmon like – for the perfectly thrown ball that eases them into their transition to the end zone and the winning score. Snap… The reality is some XXXL geezer, puffing and shuffling into the end zone and falling over as the ball slams down into the back of his head and comes to a rest in a puddle of his perspiration.
So, what does this mean when it comes to this particular gauntlet that was thrown down in such a detailed manner by Coach Babbington? Do I stick with the union and choose 5 O linemen to trundle downfield, intimidating their way into the end zone and controlling the ball for vast swathes of time? No…. Of course I don’t. I choose the following;
1. Quarterback/Safety – Jonny “Football” Manziel (Browns)
“Who”? “He’s unproven”, “He’s not big enough for the NFL”. No. This guy is going to make more headlines (if that is possible), more money and raise the profile of the sport in such a way that he will make Terrell Owens seem like an unknown hermit. Why have I chosen him? Do you honestly think anyone would be able to pull a flag from this man’s belt? To quote Alan Partridge, he is liquid football, wrapped in a layer of grease and with the ability to perform miraculous escapes and throws. Just keep running around all you receivers… you will eventually get open and the second you do the ball will come at you like a greased missile. Then, after demolishing the opposition, you’ll go out and have the most incredible, memorable, fun packed, celebrity filled after game party of your life. Jonny Football doesn’t need to say “choose me”, he’s the default setting.
2. Running Back/Linebacker – LaMichael James (49ers)
EH? A third/fourth string Running Back in San Francisco? Well, sit back down… allow me to explain. Do you see a theme emerging here. Here is the second person that, if you have seen them playing plenty of reps as a starter (as I did watching LaMichael in particular at the Oregon Ducks), you will know that this kid cannot sit still, he is pure electric. He is also a blur and tiny. Undersized for the NFL, surely?
Well, I’m picking a flag Americam Football team from NFL players, not a tree uprooting, big hitting team of monsters. LaMichael will run the ball in, indicate the TD, take the ball back to the 2PAT spot, get the water bottles filled, sell peanuts to everyone in the stand, clean all the cars in the car park then run back for the restart… all in the time it took you to blink. He is also hard as nails, if not a little injury prone, currently carrying his third dislocate elbow of his shoulder. But this is non contact, so I expect he will perform well for the team and stay pretty healthy.
James in his college days
3. Wide Receiver/Cornerback – Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson (Lions)
OK, he’s a machine… thus the nickname. He’s Calvin Johnson Will, of course I am picking him. He had his longest average gains last year, his 7th in the NFL. 17.8 yards per carry. He’s 6’5”, go long and then throw it up… he’ll catch it. Too old? Never.