Monday, July 23, 2012

Arizona Rattlers players juggle day jobs with football careers

By Mike Sunnucks (Phoenix Business Journal)

In a sports world where New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees holds out for a $20 million per year contract, the landscape for arena football players is quite a bit different.
Arena Football League players — including those for the Arizona Rattlers — are well down the financial food chain from the likes of Brees, LeBron James, Larry Fitzgerald and Albert Pujols.
Most AFL players started the season making $400 per game and have day jobs to supplement their incomes while they play. A new labor deal will bring those game paychecks up to at least $800 by 2017. Still, arena players work day jobs just like the fans in the stands.
That includes players for the Rattlers, who will be in the AFL playoffs starting Saturday. The Rattlers will host the rival San Jose SaberCats in Phoenix.
Trandon Harvey, a Rattlers wide receiver, is also a customer service representative with Verizon Wireless. He’s in his fifth season with the Rattlers and his second year with Verizon.
Harvey, who played college football at Washington State University, works full-time with Verizon while also practicing and playing for the Rattlers, one of the AFL’s most successful franchises.
“I juggle both jobs with little sleep and both employers are very accommodating,” said Harvey.
Harvey said he will go to Rattlers practices in Mesa from 7 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on weekdays then work at Verizon from noon to 11 p.m.
Verizon allows him some schedule flexibility to accommodate travel during the arena season, which runs from March into August.
Rattlers Offensive lineman John Booker is a program coordinator at Phoenix Day’s Central Park neighborhood and youth services center in Phoenix.
Booker will practice during weekday mornings at the Rattlers facility in Mesa, and then head straight to work at Central Park in south Phoenix.
Phoenix Day is a nonprofit that runs summer camps, after school programs and offers other services in the city of Phoenix.
“The biggest challenge is turning the switch on and off. One minute I am talking football. The next it is homework and behavior charts,” said Booker, a 6-foot-4-inch, 315-pound lineman who was in the San Francisco 49ers training camp in 2008.

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