By Matthew Slinn, Images by J.R. Lawless

The SFL Season 15 Draft is approaching quicker than a speeding train, and record numbers of rookie hopefuls will be donning their suits in two weeks and waiting with great anticipation for their name to be called. Over in the SFL Beat’s very own War Room, we decided that it would be pertinent for the community to get to know these new faces a little more deeply, players whom could be occupying the very same dressing room as the reader come Week 1 of the schedule. Our first two rookies to sit down with me (and the guinea pigs of this new venture) were Boise Mud Dogs tight end, Delaney Nash and Annapolis Navigators cornerback, Garrison Blue. Both gave a great account of themselves in this interview and will only increase their draftability I’m sure. 

Slinn: Okay gentlemen, my first question is for both of you. I won’t open with the cliché ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself‘ because I’m sure you’re sick of that question by now. What I would like to know, however, is how you found the SFL? I’ve noticed players like to swap stories about how they stumbled across the league, and I’m sure the community would love to know yours.

Delaney Nash: I got a call from my brother one day, who had stumbled across a game while on the Pluto TV app. He knew I was a football nut, especially when it comes to simulation and creating my own teams and players. I was immediately engaged, mad at myself I hadn’t found it before then, and after a little research, signed up almost instantaneously.

Garrison Blue: My son and I were looking for something that was not a replay of game. We were flipping through DirecTV and saw Queen City play Arizona. We watched for a bit thinking that we were watching other people play each other. When we heard that it was computer simulated, I had to check it out. My wife has been supportive because she sees the joy it brings me. We talked about it and after, I got into the discord and joined a couple of days later. The first people I met were Gerald Smith – Louisiana and Andy Hamilton – Vancouver. Both were very kind, willing to give their time. Gerald walked me through the process, showed me how to get started, what it is like to be a coach. I thank them for that

Nash: Yes, Atlanta was the first team I talked to after signing up on Discord. Everyone was very helpful with the process and ultimately, Andy Hamilton signed me as a non-contract FB a few weeks into Season 14. From that point, my life changed forever (Nash chuckled at this point).

Slinn: It’s great to see that current veteran members of the community are actively helping rookies feel welcomed and get acquainted with the league. It’s quite a lot to take on initially, kinda like an information overload. Have you found the minors fun and a good way to get used to the SFL before draft night?

Blue: I have really enjoyed it. Mike Improta reached out to me before Week 1 and asked me some questions and used it in the game that week. When my family heard my player’s name called out on tv, we cheered like it was real. This process has been exciting, nervous and stressful at some points. But draft night is going to be awesome. I have received some great advice from a lot of good people in this league on how to build my player and what I can do off the field.

Nash: Absolutely, and I’ll agree it was information overload to start with and I’m not a super tech-minded person so there was sense of intimidation. But I was eager to learn how this thing came to be and how it operated. Obviously, with the ‘rookie’ league you could see a drop off in skill levels but realize that’s not it’s purpose and the vets have been invaluable. It’s a great opportunity for new guys to get their feet wet, player or coach. I’ve met so many new, cool people in this experience with the minors and learned so much more about the process. Ultimately, I get that for Cam, this is a ‘product’ and I know he wants to put the best out there and I think he has achieved just that. But for me, when and IF I ever decide to walk away from all this, which isn’t any time soon, it’s the overall experience I’ll take with me. Can’t wait for draft night…got my suit all picked out.

Slinn: It’s great as a vet to see new blood entering the league and really getting what the league is about, and showing willing to throw themselves at it and learn the ropes properly. On that point, I expect you guys to see yourselves as long term league members. Do you have any off the field ambitions, be it a team staffing position or a league staffing position?

Nash: Long term for sure. I helped with stats this past Wednesday in the LIN-BIR game and I was so nervous going into it – again, the intimidation factor. But afterwards, I was proud to have done it and who knows, if I ever want to apply to be a statistician for a sports network, I can now say I have experience (laughs). But honestly, in my vulnerability, I actually learned about something I had an interest in and it’s a testament to what this league can provide. In the future, staffing positions would be something I’d consider, but not anytime soon. Baby steps, I’m still way to green.

Blue: Most definitely. When I talked to my wife about joining, she was excited for me and I shared with her that I wanted to do this long term. I have aspirations of owning my own team. Already have the logo, name and colors picked for two scenarios for when that day comes. Right now, I want to learn everything and progress as a player on the field and progress as a person off the field that the league will be proud of. I am doing a few “little” things to see where I fit more comfortably with my schedule and knowledge. I have written an article for an upcoming magazine, done some scouting, player relations, some art work for some people to help promote them, and would like to do some broadcasting if possible.

Nash: Thought about scouting, but at the moment my time is limited and I’m sure that requires a lot of time dedicated to watching film. Used to cover High School football for our local newspaper but kinda got burnt out, but Beat Writing is still a possibility. Actually, initially I went to school for graphic design and would love to learn what I could do regarding that aspect as well.

Slinn: It seems like you both have unique talents you can bring to the table if given the time and that’s great! The SFL is thirsty for players such as yourselves to help build on the strong foundations so that it can flourish. Ok, so I have a question that I’m personally interested in. So, when I joined the league, being English, I was immediately drawn to London, and still support them despite not playing for them currently. Is there a team that you were initially drawn to when you first signed up?

Nash: Being from Texas, I’d obviously love to rep my home state, but if it’s not on the cards then so be it. Another thing I love about the league – to have 4 countries represented is amazing! My brother is rooting for me to go to Vegas because it’s one of his favorite places. I know it’s cliché but no matter where I go, I’ll be grateful for the opportunity and that team will get my best effort.

Blue: I am from North Louisiana, so I am close to the Revolution, Toros and Glory. Gerald (Louisiana) is one of the first guys I met. He spent so much time with me, answering all my questions and giving me guidance. While we were communicating, he found out that he was going to be given the franchise, but of course he waited until the league announced it. My family is pulling for me to go to Louisiana or Lone Star. I just want to get drafted by a team that feels I am the right fit for them and I feel I fit there as well. There are about 4 or 5 teams that have expressed a strong interest in me and say if I am available in the 3rd round, they are going to grab me.

Slinn: Both your answers resonate a lot with me. Obviously, I’m the GM in Vegas so it’s great that there is support for you to possibly come to us Delaney, and Blue, I signed Gerald back in Season 10 and drafted Jeff, his GM, back in Season 10, so I have a real affinity to see those guys do well. I have to say that this interview has been really insightful and your answers have been great to read. I guess I have one final question, and really have a think about this. If you could create your own SFL franchise right now, in this moment, where would it be and what would you call it?

Blue: I have two scenarios. I have already designed both with names and colors. I was excited to see the game had Shreveport as a location. We had an old WFL team called the Steamers here that I noticed the game also had. It would be exciting for me to bring that back. I would not use the same colors. I have used the color of the High School that I coach for. The other one is a nod to my wife. She works for a major casino entertainment company in the area. They would called the Gamblers.

Nash: Can’t really speak for everyone, but I’d be willing to bet most of us have put at least some thought into this since joining the league. Of course, I’ve toyed with ideas of another Texas team (San Antonio, Austin, El Paso) but I think another would be overkill. Looking at it, I’m a little baffled there is no team in California! The San Diego Silverbacks has a nice ring to it, or the Salt Lake Stags. My brother lived in Delaware for a bit so I’ve also liked the Wilmington Warlocks. I could go on and on but I based these Top 3 on places that don’t currently have teams.

Slinn: You two could branch out from the SFL and start your own league with all of those teams! For me, I’d have to create another European SFL team, but I’m not gonna divulge that information yet…Well, thanks so much for the excellent interview you two. You’re both quality individuals and I wish you the best of luck in the draft!

Nash: Thanks a ton, and good luck to you as well! European league would be cool. I used to collect football cards and remember some of the NFL Europe teams. Frankfurt Galaxy was one, I think? Anyway, you both are stand up guys and hope success follows you both!

Blue: Thank you so much. Involving us was a big honor. It also helped me to get to know Delaney some as well. Good luck with the Euro Team idea. If I can help you in anyway, let me know!

I know every time a reporter does an interview, they’re supposed to clarify how much fun they had talking to the player in question, but getting to know those guys was an extremely positive experience. They are two top drawer players and I hope they go as far in this league as their potential could take them. Make sure you tune in next time for more interviews with the league’s budding stars of tomorrow.

If you want to be a part of the ‘Rookie Rendezvous’ Series, don’t hesitate to message me on Discord. I would love to broadcast your views to the community and put you in the spotlight. Until next time…