Of course, all Flight fans should be excited about any player signing but there’s something particularly special with this one. Many arena football fans from Trenton may remember the Freedom back in 2014, the team to introduce Roger “Spider-man” Jackson. Jackson was the main threat on that Freedom team’s offense and who did he have slinging him the ball? No other than current Flight quarterback Warren Smith. It’s surely exciting hearing that the two will be back in Trenton working together. Although there’s still some time until that gets to be seen I was fortunate enough to catch up with the talented receiver for a quick Q&A.
Q: Welcome back to Trenton! There’s more than enough to be said about what you’ve done in this very arena back in 2014. Winning PIFL offensive rookie of the year, leading the Trenton Freedom in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with 59, 730, and 15, while averaging 12.4 yards per catch. Not to mention an amazing touchdown catch over the arena wall that actually ended up on ESPN. I have to ask, what was your reaction when you found out you would be playing back here in New Jersey?
A: Initially I was excited when I found out there was an opportunity to return I was emotional. Trenton Freedom was the only team I’ve played two seasons with. To be able to return to an environment where they love arena Football. Receiving the news definitely made my evening. After the passing of Kobe Bryant(one of my favorite athletes). This season will be dedicated to passion and family.
Q: Definitely a tough day for many people especially athletes due to his inspiration and influence on all sports, not just basketball. Also, I respect where you dedicating your performance this season. Now, not only will you be playing in a familiar arena you’ll be playing with a familiar quarterback, reuniting with Warren Smith for the first time since both of your days with the Freedom. Have you been able to catch up at all? How does it feel getting to work with Warren again?
A: He was very big in my decision to come back. We talked on the phone back and forth until I got signed. He’s a good leader and acts as another coach in practice and games. His leadership and confidence makes everyone’s job easier. I have no doubt he will be the reason for any games won this season.
Q: I can’t wait to see the Smith to Spider-Man connection once again and with the rest of the talent on the team, this year may really be something special. The impact you had with the Freedom may have been somewhat short-lived, but for a good reason. After your rookie of the year performance in just 5 games in 2015 when you managed to put up 429 yards and 10 touchdowns off 33 catches. The New Orleans Voodoo took notice and signed you in April of that year. While playing for your home state you were able to break the franchise record in receiving yards by 29 with 924, while playing in just 11 games. Unfortunately on August 9th, 2015 the Voodoo ceased operations making you a free agent. All and all what was that experience like?
A: It was a surreal feeling. A special experience any way you look at it. To be able to go back home and play football. It doesn’t get much better than that. On a franchise where many great athletes and WR’s have played. From D1 guys and former NFL players, being across the street from the super bowl. You can’t really draw it up any better than that. I had a good set of veterans who helped me adjust to the speed of the AFL game. I was more than disappointed when they ceased operations. With a voodoo team that stays, some players could’ve lived in the city longer. Including myself but the memories made will always be with me. Having your name in the history books means a lot to the people who’ve helped you reach your goals.
Q: Undoubtedly a special experience regardless of the unfortunate halt. But Of course, this wouldn’t be the end of your arena football days going on to play with the Jacksonville Sharks, signing with them in October of 2015 and playing for the Washington Valor in 2017. However, in 2018, you decided to step away from the game for a year. I mean, I have to ask, what made you decide to come back and play? And what is your goal moving forward?
A: I did take off a year of play. I had some time to think this past offseason. Just mentally preparing myself for what may come. Some days I was unsure if I would play again. But I felt if the right situation came again I would play. My goal is just to reach the max effort every day (Carpe Diem). Every effort I have to get better day in and out. Where it’s preparing myself or helping a teammate. I want to keep a full head of steam. From the film room to the weight room and the things I put in my body. I’m just looking to drown in football completely. Just to become that player that references think I can be when they speak well of me. Just be that complete playmaker and be a good addition to the receiving core.
Q: Looking forward to seeing that preparation and dedicated pay off this season. Playing arena football since 2014 means you’ve been in a fair share of locker rooms with different cultures, met a multitude of people, and had plenty of different experiences, all of which can easily influence a person. Taking a minute to look into the rearview mirror, how would you say you’ve changed throughout your career?
A: I’ve grown emotionally, I’m more mild-tempered. I’m excited to see how this approach matches up with my athleticism. I remember being young and wanting to look in the stands during the game. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can improve from staying “in the game” from the kickoff to finish. Of course, I will play with a lot of emotion. Not an emotional roller coaster, but in a way to motivate the others around me. Of course, always be myself and keep the crowd at the level Warren needs them to perform.
Q: Growth isn’t always easy so I respect the fact that you were able to see where you felt you needed to grow and taking action on it. And I look forward to seeing this new approach play out this season. Lastly, I would like to ask you a question I’ve wrapped all of my interviews up with. When someone puts their blood, sweat, and tears into something they don’t do it without reason, I would simply like to know what motivates you on and off the field?
A: I’d like to think I’m self-driven. I motivate myself in most situations. Or I get inspiration from others and use what I’ve learned to fuel my goals. When I put a task in my mind, I make it my priority to complete it. At the highest level or on any level. I give myself permission to push my limits until I see results. On and off the field I respect the power of words. I indulge in the process of creating a mentality from scratch and seeing it through. Positive emotion is contagious. I imagine we will have a team full of contagious spirits. Positive mindsets to help us focus on our common goal. To ultimately win a championship and show respect to our families and fans.
Well, hopefully, that combination of self-motivation and absorption of outer inspiration coming from the locker room will boost team chemistry and unlock everyone’s full potential on the push for a championship. I would just like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview and letting the fans get to know you more.
Yes sir, thanks for the interview offer. Good luck this season, see your career is off to a good start.
Certain energy can already be felt knowing we’ll all get to see that Smith to Jackson connection once again right here in Trenton. But more intriguingly we have the two stars reconnecting after years of different situations and growing periods. It’ll surely be interesting to see how the time spent after the Freedom days have affected the talents. Don’t take that the wrong way though, the different schemes, locker rooms, and experiences can be the best brew for a player. Rounding out their skillset and gaining knowledge on the game. Creating what should be an even more explosive offense that’s even harder to contain than when the two were less experienced. Besides giving Warren passing threats such as Warren Oliver, Edward Victorian, Dashown Waller, Emery Sammons, David Lewis, and now Roger Jackson, creates an offense that should be nothing other than inexorable.