Written by Matthew Slinn

Images by Jonny Law

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night (depending on where you are in the world), my name is Matthew ‘Shady’ Slinn and I’m the Head of Written Content for the SFL Media team. When I’m not dictating assignments and deadlines to writers who are more talented than myself, I like to produce the odd series of my own. Last off-season, I started off the ‘Rookie Rendezvous’ series and it became very popular with the community, especially with the rookies. So, here I am again, ready to throw the names of unknown future stars at the wider communities and hopefully give the newest players in our league a chance to get their name circulating around the SFL. Today, we delve deep into the minds of five San Jose Flight players, covering all sides of the ball, including special teams. Read on to get to know these young (in SFL terms) stars! I hope you enjoy.

Slinn: Hey guys! I hope you are all well rested and healthy after last week’s game against Birmingham. I suppose my first question is a way for the SFL community to get to know you a little bit – understand the person behind the player, so to speak. We all have our stories about how we discovered the SFL, and I want to know yours, in brief. How did you stumble across this fantastic league?

Doug: My cousin actually introduced me to the league. He currently plays for the London Knights as a cornerback, Brandon Ewing, and I think he’s been around for two or three seasons. He told me about it and I watched his games a few times alongside him and it was really neat and he really got into it. It looked like a lot of fun so he pointed me in the right direction! Would be awesome if we lined up against each other.

Wyatt: Hey and thanks for having us again. I actually stumbled across it on Reddit. I was just searching around the internet looking for something like this, not knowing it already was here and happened to stumble across it on Reddit. I did a google search and found the website and some YouTube videos and I was impressed. Decided to join and it’s been fun so far!

Lewis: I was just randomly browsing the sports category on Twitch when I came across the Charleston vs Florida game. My curiosity for what was actually happening led me to the website and the Discord server.

Pierce: I was introduced to the league by Dave Barr, my old high school football coach. He said he stumbled across a game on tv and became interested that way. It didn’t take much to talk me into it and I dove head first. Now my brother plays, my dad plays, and 2 of my best friends also joined the league. It’s been a blast.

Todd: Thanks for the invite! I stumbled onto the SFL back in early Summer as I was surfing my TV streaming service, and saw football on the FTF channel. Then I noticed that it was a football simulation, and a pretty good one! Intrigued, I searched online for the SFL, watched several of the recorded games on YouTube, and decided to dive in.

Slinn: You see, that’s the beauty of that question – you get such a variation of answers! First and foremost though, it’s just great that you’re all here! As someone who has been here since Season 10, back when there was no SFL draft, I’m interested to know how the minor league (SFLm) process has been so far for you? Has it given you a good taste of what life in the big leagues might be like?

Doug: it’s been great! Was super simple to get started and I’m happy to see where it goes from here.

Wyatt: Yea it has been a fun process so far. I mean, we’re only one game in and it’s already revving up a little bit.

Lewis: It’s been great so far. Everyone has been really helpful, especially the guys in our locker room. We have a great group who come motivated to the chat everyday and a great coaching staff that has really been there for us so far. They have been awesome at answering questions, giving advice on how to further our skills when it comes to contributing to the league, and encouraging the team as a whole. I think being in this locker room has definitely given me a preview of how life would be like in the SFL. From the camaraderie to holding team meetings over Zoom to working on things together like scouting and social media, it has definitely given me a great glimpse to how it will be on the next level.

Pierce: When I first joined I thought, “Ok, Colin let’s get through this minor league season so we can go make an impact in the SFL”. I didn’t really think I’d get much of a rush playing in the minors. MAN, WAS I WRONG! My first game actually brought me similar feelings to game day when I played high school football. I haven’t felt those feelings for 10 years! It was nice. The SFLm is an awesome program with tons of opportunity to make an impact from the get-go. Don’t tell Cam but the $23 6-month subscription is extremely undervalued.

Todd: It’s been a great process. Lots of great people willing to help, and once the SFLm preseason progressions started, it really amped up the excitement for the season to start. I think that if I’m fortunate enough to make the ‘Bigs’ next season, it will be awesome!

Slinn: Echoing Colin’s last point about the value of the league, I also feel like the subscriptions we sign up to are fully justified for the most part. Is there anything about this league that has surprised you? Has it subverted your expectations in any way?

Doug: The league is incredible. I’m blown away by how in depth everything is, everything from the broadcasts to the stat sheets available on the website.

Lewis: I’m surprised about how active the community is and how much you can contribute to the league. When I first signed up, I thought you just made a player, did your progressions, and watched the games. But I was definitely wrong. There is so much to get involved with. By far, it has exceeded my expectations.

Wyatt: I would 100% agree with Jack. Exceeded my expectations from the jump. You never know how things like these will go but the amount of support you get along with the creativity throughout the league, it’s amazing. To further add on, I think the positional rankings & big board has surprised me the most. It’s so neat that you can see where you are projected to go based on a bunch of different things and how that will even amp up more when a mock draft comes out. But it keeps me very interested and wanting to see if I did enough to move up and essentially get to see how teams view me against the rest of my class.

Pierce: I heard Cam say, “You can be whatever you want to be in the SFL”. Nothing has been more true. This league allows you more opportunities than I could have imagined. There are so many avenues for people to fulfill their football dreams. From broadcasting to coaching to conducting live interviews, all you have to do is ask and you are never turned down. The culture in the SFL has exceeded my expectations and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Todd: Pleasantly surprised. Not sure if it was this way when the league started, but the obvious effort into player development – both the on-field avatar AND the real life person behind it – is way more deliberate than I imagined up front. Also, the commitment to quality in the broadcasting, coaching, and everything else I’ve seen so far has been pretty cool. And ditto to what Jack and Wyatt said!

Slinn: It’s great, as a long term member, to see how the SFL has already had a positive effect on your lives, and you are barely yet to scratch the surface of what this league can provide! Now, obviously you are all fairly new to the league, but i want to know (and feel free to answer this diplomatically, if you wish) do you have a favourite SFL team? Is there a team that has stood out to you from day one? And, what were the reasons for that?

Doug: That’s tough, I’m a big logo guy though. I love all the branding aspects of teams so because of that I think I really like the Louisiana Revolution.

Wyatt: I don’t know if I necessarily have a favorite team just yet. The 2 teams that stick out in my head and will have a permanent spot as the first 2 teams I watched play in the SFL are the Hyenas and Kings. Watching the Hyenas fight hard where it seemed like no one gave ’em a chance and the Kings making a fabulous comeback. Unfortunately, can’t say I get to keep watching both teams but I will definitely be following the Kings the rest of the playoffs.

(Note: This question was asked before the Kings were knocked out in the Quarter-Finals)

Lewis: To be honest, I don’t really have a favorite SFL team. So far, Lone Star has stood out to me because of the great coaching staff and players who are helping us out this season. Also, Arizona has stood out because of their passion both on and off the field in regards to not only the game, but off it as well in things like social media.

Pierce: The conversations I have, or lack thereof, with team owners and staff is what means the most to me and draws me towards a franchise. I am drawn to a team that is transparent, personable, and passionate about achieving their goals. Relationship is what is all boils down to for me and I gravitate to teams that show they are interested in the person behind the player. All that being said, a :fire: uniform helps out too. Especially those with a little bit of pink, like Vegas.

Todd: Well, the first games I watched were the Sparrows so I was drawn to them initially. But since then, I’ve watched a lot of Lone Star’s games and I like them a lot, mainly because of their great TE, Williams. I hope to make an impact like he’s doing when I hit the Big Time.  I think just about every team has a lot going for it.

Slinn: The fact that none of you immediately yelled ‘VEGAS!’ at the top of your lungs saddens me! Haha, with that being said, I think we should move onto the players that you guys will be on the field. Could you give us some details about what positions you play in San Jose and why you chose that position.

Doug: I play WR for the flight. I chose WR because it’s the position I played all throughout my life, club and high school. I like the feeling of scoring the touchdown and being in the action – it’s great being the player to make a clutch play. I’m excited to get to work.

Wyatt: With San Jose I play the SS position. I think moving forward into the SFL Pros I could play either Strong or Free safety and in the box at linebacker if needed. I chose SS for that versatility to move around the field and be able to be plugged in when needed. The best ability is availability & at 6’3, 230+, putting myself in different spots and showing what I can bring to the field is what I what to do at the next level.

Lewis: I’m the kicker for the Flight. I’m also the only kicker in the SFLm this season, so far. I chose it because I was a kicker starting in middle school, through high school, and I went to kick in college before I got injured. I did it for a long time and I miss it today. I can’t think of playing any other position, to be honest.

Pierce: In high school I played WR/TE and Monsterback. I tried QB once and failed miserably because I can NOT throw. So maybe I’m living vicariously through the QB position in the SFL lol. But in all seriousness, I want to lead a team and make the biggest impact I can and, in my eyes, QB is the best position to do that from.

Todd: I play TE for the Flight, as TE was one of the positions I identified early on that I was interested in (LB & QB being the others). As far as why I had TE as a preference, I’ve had the pleasure of watching some great NFL TE’s over the years in Winslow (Sr.), Gonzalez, and now Kelce. I like how they can really take over a game when necessary and still contribute to the run game. If a receiving TE is good enough, he can take pressure off of some of the other targets so hopefully they can get open if the TE isn’t.

Slinn: So, speaking of San Jose and the SFLm. The Flight have had a losing start to the season and sit at 0-2. What do you think of your player’s performance so far this season and is there anything in particular you think the team needs to develop in order to grab that first victory?

Doug: I think my player has been underperforming, I need to work on my catching and route running but once I get in the flow I’ll be putting up numbers for sure. I’m incredibly satisfied with our team though and how we’ve been playing overall. I think we’re all going to progress and do fantastic.

Wyatt: I think we just gotta trust the process. We have been right there in both games and just gotta get over the hump. I think my player has played decent. An interception and a few PDs along with making tackles everywhere. There’s always room for improvement but it’s a decent start.

Pierce: We have a great coaching staff here at San Jose. The Flight have full trust in the progression plans tailor made for each of us. Our vision is long term and we saw tremendous improvement between Week 1 to Week 2. We were reminded last week that the champion from last season started off 0-3. Slow and steady wins the race #TrustTheProcess

Lewis: We just need to keep working hard like we have been. If we can continue to do that, victories will come. I think we have shown tremendous improvement already in just a short amount of time. We just need to trust the process and progression plans that our coaches have put together. Like Colin said, last year’s champion started 0-3, so I’m not worried.

Todd: Not too worried about the slow start as we really showed improvement in the second game. I think our future is bright. My player is making the most of his touches, and I think he’ll get more targets as he progresses which will only help the team. As our offense improves, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with as our defense already is very good and getting better. Like Colin said, #TrustTheProcess

Slinn: Well gentlemen, we have come to then end of this interview and my first ‘Rookie Rendezvous’ of the Season 16 off-season. It has been an absolute pleasure to get you all together and allow you to advertise your name in the community. Before I sign off, I’d like each of you to give me three words. These three words will tell GM’s and owners what they will be drafting if they pick you. It can be personality, on the field traits, locker room presence…any 3 words that sum you up.

Doug: Respectable. Guilt-proneness. Play-maker.

Wyatt: Dependable, Active, Confident

Lewis: Motivated. Excited. Committed

Pierce: Initiator, Focused, Progressive

Todd: Committed. Flexible. Chill.

Slinn: Top marks for a cracking interview fellas! It’s been extremely enjoyable for me and good luck for the remainder of the season!

If you want to connect with these rookies on Discord:

Doug Spelling – @Saladracks

Monte Wyatt – @chefpockets

Jack Lewis – @jack.lewis229

Colin Pierce – @Colin Pierce |FlightQB|

Will Todd – @Waite Phorett

Make sure to tune into the next ‘Rookie Rendezvous’ for more insight into the minds of the Season 16 rookie class. If you are a rookie who wants to be  part of the series, hit me up with a DM on Discord. I’d love to hear your story. Until next time, Shady out.