CLEMSON, SC -- Former Clemson running back Terrence Flagler, seven years removed from his
last NFL camp, at first glance looks like a former pro grasping at one final
chance to put on a football uniform.
He's playing for $200 a game -- $250 if his team wins - in what's called
arenafootball2. It's a combination of the WWF, hockey and backyard football.
And it's hardly where Flagler figured he would be in the year 2000 after he
was drafted in the first round by San Francisco in 1987.
"It's been seven long years and I felt it tonight," said Flagler after his
team, the Jacksonville Tomcats, lost to the Greenville Rhinos Saturday
night, 40-31 - a defensive struggle in the AF2. Funny thing is that Flagler
doesn't look that far removed from the NFL. In fact, he doesn't look that
far removed from Clemson. He's still in shape and looks like was waiting for
the AF2 to call.
"It this was a situation where I was out of shape, this would be different,"
he said. "But when I was in Phoenix I was still training with a lot of the
guys that was on the team and playing flag football and basketball and my
weight never got up. Luckily it paid off."
Flagler spent three years in San Francisco, where he won two Super Bowl
rings, and then landed in Phoenix. In both places he was mainly used as a
kickoff return man. He went to camp with Oakland and Kansas City before
deciding that his NFL career was over.
Another former Clemson
player Michael Allen also plays in arenafootball2 with the Carolina Rhinos.
He worked for a radio station in Phoenix before moving back to his home in
Fernandina Beach, Fla., nearly two years ago. He now works in security at
the Ritz-Carton on Amelia Island, but isn't quite finished playing football.
He's a running back and defensive back for Jacksonville. "I've got a chance
to get back into football and have some fun," he said.
In five games he's caught 12 passes for 147 yards and has made 25 tackles,
second highest on the team - all with a broken left hand.
He isn't sure what the future holds for him in football, but he hopes to
return to the area again the fall. If he does, it would be the first time
he's been to a Clemson game since he left 13 years ago.
"I've told myself that I'm going to get to some games," he said. "I've
promised myself that I'm going to get back to rub the rock one more time.
Clemson fans are the greatest in the world. I can remember going to Anderson
on Friday nights and going to the movies and then racing back to the room to
watch Miami Vice. Then I remember taking the bus to the games and seeing the
people lined up beside the road all the way from Anderson."
Things haven't changed that much for Clemson, or Flagler.