In the history of Arena Football, there have been players that gained valuable experience playing on the fifty yard that went on to play in the NFL.
Kurt Warner is the poster boy for that jump having gone from the Iowa Barnstormers to NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion with the Rams as part of his Hall of Fame career. There were also a pair of New York Dragons players that went on to the NFL. Mike Furrey went from the Dragons to an NFL career with the Rams and Lions and Kevin Swayne went from the Dragons to the New York Jets and then back to the Dragons.
Players that used to play in the NFL that come to play in Arena Football is another fascinating dynamic and this coming Monday at Westchester County Center (3pm MSG), the 3-1 Streets will be facing a pair of former NFL players that are taking their talents indoors playing for the Massachusetts Pirates.
During their bye week, the Pirates (1-4) signed former Pro Bowl running back and kick returner Dexter McCluster who played seven seasons with the Chiefs, Titans, and Chargers. The Pirates also inked former Patriots offensive lineman Tre Jackson who was a Super Bowl champion in New England and an All-American at Florida State.
“We are very excited for the Pirates and more importantly our league for drawing such talent,” said Streets Head Coach Rick Marsilio. “It will be fun to face players who have played at the highest level.”
McCluster, who will play wide receiver for the Pirates, was a Pro Bowl selection and a second team All-Pro with the Chiefs in 2013 and would finish his NFL career with 1,042 rushing yards, 1,993 receiving yards, 2,942 total yards, and 12 touchdowns. After taking a year and a half off of playing football for family reasons and to coach high school football, McCluster returned to the field last year to play for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
He’s working hard to pick up the 50 yard game.
“I’m here to learn as fast as possible,” said McCluster during an interview on the Pirates’ Twitter account. “Getting to know my teammates…my new brothers and just get in where I fit in. I’m going to work hard and I’m going to push and I’m going to motivate myself as well as others. We’ll see how the chips fall.”
McCluster has never played Arena Football before, but the Tampa, Florida native is no stranger to the sport because he has been to AFL games with his father.
“He used to take me to some of the Storm games,” said McCluster. “It was exciting. As a kid watching that, I never knew or imagined myself playing arena but here I am. Life came back around.”
In addition to McCluster, the Streets defense will have to concern themselves on Monday with Jackson who used to protect a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady. He brings a lot to the Pirates including a strong presence in the locker room.
“One of the main things is just experience,” said Jackson during an interview with the Pirates Twitter account. “I’ve been on a few winning teams with national championships and Super Bowls. Experience plays a big part of it…having a go-to with that experience.”
There are players on the Streets that are hoping to one day get their opportunity to play at the highest level possible so for them, it’s going to be an interesting experience going up against two players that have played in the NFL. It’s certainly going to provide some motivation for the Streets to perform well against McCluster and Jackson.
“It’s always great to go against high caliber competition,” said Streets defensive lineman Herbert Moore. “It makes you want to raise the level of your game tremendously. But I like our chances against them because we have NFL caliber players as well including myself.”
Moore is also extra pumped up because he already has a relationship with McCluster because they both played at Ole Miss.
“I happen to know Dexter because he always came back and watched me and (Streets defensive lineman) Issac Gross,” said Moore.
It takes a special athlete to play Arena Football and there are many of them up and down the rosters of the Streets and Pirates. But for hardcore Arena Football fans as well as fans that are new to the sport, it’s always fun to see a recognizable name or two that creates some intrigue and excitement.
That’s will be part of the afternoon on Monday in White Plains, but at the end of the day, the Streets hope to give these two former NFL players a rude awakening to what Arena Football is all about and to send them home to Worcester with a loss.
The Streets return to action on Memorial Day May 27th at 3pm when they host the Massachusetts Pirates at the Westchester County Center. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com. For season and group ticket information, call 1-833-697-8733 and choose extension one. The game can also be seen on the MSG Network.