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Former Rampage Player Leif Murphy Back with IFL Storm

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on OurSportsCentral.com, Sunday, May 24, 2009

Last year, Leif Murphy was living the dream. He had toiled for years playing for several indoor football teams in leagues like the National Indoor Football League and United Indoor Football. Then, in 2008, he had a tryout with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League. The Rampage coaching staff was so impressed with Murphy that they signed him to a two-year contract. He felt like he had finally made the big time as a player. 

Then the dream became a nightmare when the AFL pulled the plug on the 2009 season, leaving the players in the league looking for a new place to play. For Murphy, the choice was a no-brainer. Since he lived in Sioux Falls, he re-signed with the Storm, the team he had played for in 2007 prior to coming to Grand Rapids. The Storm, however, were no longer members of the UIF. The league had merged with another indoor league, the Intense Football League, to become the new 19-team Indoor Football League.

“It’s like the cards were stacked against me,” Murphy said of the AFL season’s cancellation. “I finally made it to the AFL and the year after I make it, it folds! I was really heartbroken. I finally got a taste of a better life and it was a little disappointing, but there are hundreds of other players who are disappointed, too.”

Last night (May 23), Murphy returned to Michigan for the first time since the Rampage season ended as the Storm took on the Muskegon Thunder. Muskegon is located just 30 miles west of Grand Rapids. When he was with the Rampage, Murphy played linebacker, but this season with the Storm, he plays defensive end. He had a solo sack in the third quarter and a fumble recovery in the fourth as the Storm dominated the Thunder 87-26.

With the win, the Storm improved its record to 4-6. The team should be 9-1 right now, however, it was forced to forfeit its first five wins of the season by the league due to a front office mistake regarding workman’s compensation paperwork. The Sioux Falls Storm have won the last four consecutive league titles as members of United Indoor Football and it is one of the winningest franchises in all of indoor football. It will be a tough road for the team to travel if it is to win a fifth straight title.

Another former Rampage player, TJ Watkins, currently plays for Muskegon and Thunder assistant coach Rod Miller was also on the Rampage staff last year.

So how does the new IFL stack up to the UIF that Murphy remembers? “To be blatant, the UIF was a smaller group of team’s, but they were more solid,” Murphy said. “They had better front office leadership and the players were better. Now with the IFL they’ve mixed in the Intense teams and some Continental Indoor Football League teams and you get ugly scores like 87-26 because they are not organized and they’re not used to this style of play. Its still a fun, exciting style of football, but, in all honesty, the top teams are still high but the lower teams are really, really bad.”

When he is not playing football, Murphy is in the process of finishing his degree at North Dakota State, which is his where he played college football. “I told my mom a long time ago that I would (finish my degree). With the way the economy is, I’ve really got to get a degree.”

And when it comes to his football future, Murphy made it clear where is priorities are for 2010. “I would definitely love to be back in Grand Rapids,” he said.

(Photo by Alexandria Meachum)

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