NOTHIN’ TO LOSE: Clay Signs with L.A. KISS
For many aspiring football players, getting a chance to live the dream and make the most of the sport they love involves having enough drive and work ethic and being in the right place at the right time.
For Hilo High School graduate Charles Clay, living in Los Angeles was big when the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles KISS needed a defender due to injury. Now, the University of Hawai’i graduate has an opportunity to see meaningful game action, something he hasn’t seen in his short professional career.
“After I was released from Ottawa, I was just waiting to hear if anything was coming along, and then after I didn’t hear anything, I told my agent that I wanted to try out for the Arena league, because I really just wanted to be playing football again,” Clay said.
Clay was signed by the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League on October 20. This came after a short stint with the Green Bay Packers organization, where he saw limited action in the 2014 preseason. But he never saw playing time north of the mainland border, and his hopes of playing professional football were once again in limbo.
It was never more evident how much Clay wanted a chance than on May 30, when he went to Twitter and simply stated what he wanted.
I JUST WANNA PLAY FOOTBALLARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD
— charles clay (@CLAYBUILT) May 30, 2015
“When I put out that tweet, it wasn’t frustration, but just my passion for the game,” Clay explained. “I put so much into it and there’s a lot of time that, you know, I love being in the gym, and I love doing workouts, but there’s nothing just like putting on the pads and just going out there and doing what you do.”
Opportunity came knocking for Clay, who was signed last week by the KISS. With that chance came a new learning experience, grasping a position that you never see in the 11-man outdoor game: jack linebacker.
“You have a five-yard box that starts on the line of scrimmage to five yards past the ball, and you can run in that five-yard box from sideline to sideline,” Clay explained. “You can’t blitz, nothing. You just kinda get underneath the hook holes, just kinda like you are playing the flats in American football.”
L.A. kept Clay out of Saturday’s 48-42 overtime win against the San Jose Sabercats while he continues to understand the position. If everything goes well, he hopes to be on the field this Saturday when the KISS hosts Philadelphia. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Hawai’i time and will be played at Anaheim’s Honda Center. It will be broadcast on ESPN2.
And yes, the team is owned by KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, as well as their manager, Doc McGhee. Clay hasn’t met any of the band members, or even come up with a favorite song,but says he at least has a mohawk, hoping to be in the rock style.
The ultimate dream of sticking on an NFL roster remains, but the 24-year-old Clay says that a career in the AFL wouldn’t be bad. “I have a deep passion for this game. The way my body’s at, my mind’s at, and everything, I can’t walk away from it just yet. I need to do it as long as I can. My family’s behind me, and my girlfriend’s behind me.”