Crunch Writer Works Out for AFL Rampage
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on OurSportsCentral.com, Tuesday, September 12, 2006
During the inaugural season of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League this year, freelance writer Ted Kluck, from Lansing, Michigan, was given an extra roster spot by the league and played for the Battle Creek Crunch. Kluck, who previously played semi-pro football, was a long snapper in the early part of the season and also saw some playing time on defense towards the end of the season as well.
Kluck wrote a couple of articles that appeared on ESPN.com during the season and is currently writing a book about his experience playing for the upstart indoor football league. The book will be called "Paper Tiger," a parody of the title of George Plimpton's 1965 book "Paper Lion" which Plimpton wrote after participating in a training camp with the NFL Detroit Lions.
On September 5, Kluck, along with one of his Crunch teammates, Eric Gardner, had a private workout session with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League at the Rampage practice facility in Kentwood, Michigan.
Kluck had no aspirations of actually making the Rampage roster. Instead, he approached the session with the intension of doing research for his book. It was a way to see how he stacked up in front of an AFL coaching staff. Gardner, on the other hand, is hoping to land an invitation to the Rampage training camp in January.
"Eric did the typical Eric Gardner thing," Kluck said, "which is just be a great athlete. He showed great hands, good speed and just did a nice job (during the workout)."
Gardner played in nine of the 10 regular season games for the Crunch last season. He scored 23 touchdowns on offense and had seven interceptions on defense. He also returned the opening kickoff in the first game of the season 45 yards for the team's first ever touchdown. Gardner was selected to play in the GLIFL All-Star Game on August 5th.
The GLIFL considers itself a developmental league for larger football leagues like the Arena Football League, the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe. It's a place where players can learn the indoor style game and be seen by scouts and coaches from other leagues. That's exactly what happened earlier this year when Rampage head coach Sparky McEwen and offensive coordinator Michael Baker attended a Crunch game.
Another Crunch player, LJ Parker, also tried out for the Rampage a few weeks ago.
"It's exciting for me, after playing with them and becoming friends with these guys to see them being able to, hopefully, play for some real money now," Kluck said.
"Paper Tiger" is due to be submitted to the publisher by October 1 and should come out around March or April of next year, just in time for the kickoff of the second GLIFL season.
"The book really wrote itself," said Kluck. "I'm indebted to the team, the players and the coaches for giving me such great access all year. It was a blast."
Kluck's first book, "Facing Tyson," about heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, is due to be in stores around October 15. You can order "Facing Tyson" and also see what the cover of the book looks like by going to Amazon.com.