Sports

Clay Seeks Next Chance in Upstart MLFB

February 3, 2016, 9:28 AM HST
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Charles Clay. UH photo.

Charles Clay. UH photo.

Hilo High School graduate Charles Clay has had several professional opportunities since graduation from the University of Hawai’i. But the goal has always been to get back to the National Football League, hoping to stay.

After short stints with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the Arena Football League’s L.A. KISS., Clay’s next step to getting back to the top could be through Major League Football, a publicly-traded spring professional football league that is set to launch this year.

Clay waited a few days for his name to be drawn, but finally saw his name called on Saturday in the 58th round of the MLFB National Draft with the 463rd pick, selected by head coach Larry Kirksey.

“It was relief. A lot of relief,” Clay said. “I thought I could’ve went earlier, but I’m not sure how it worked. I knew as long as my name got called, as long as my name went across that board, I’d be fine because I’m coming into camp, you know? That’s when they learn what everything’s really about.”

The last year has been a test of patience for Clay. He was signed by the KISS, owned by some of the members of the iconic rock band, but wasn’t placed on the active roster until late in the season. Now, he will likely stake his hopes on a league that hopes to last longer than Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment-owned XFL league, which was in business for only one season.

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“I have no doubts [in MLFB]. I know people who are involved that I’ve been in contact with and a couple of coaches that I know, and they say it is going through and that it is going to be great” said Clay. “It’s going to be a real chance to compete and NFL teams will be around. I’m the same, if not more, excited.”

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If Clay makes it through training camp later this month, it will likely mean the end of a short stint in the AFL. The bigger prize, of course, is getting back on an NFL roster, and MLFB’s goal is to use its spring football league as a launching pad to get more players an opportunity to make it into the NFL. Helping to make that happen is a television deal through American Sports Network, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Company.

Kirksey, who drafted Clay, is one of eight coaches who will lead their teams out this season. Some of those coaches, like Dave Campo and Ted Cottrell, have significant NFL experience.

There is one big question, however: where will these teams be located? MLFB says that an announcement on where these franchises will be placed is expected soon. Each of these franchises will be placed in areas where there are no National Football League teams situated.

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Until all of that gets squared away, Clay knows that his dream of getting back to the NFL isn’t over.

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