Friday, April 11, 2008

The Millionaires - Pt. Deux

We shot more of our WEDU story on the ironically named Sarasota Millionaires semi-pro football team Wednesday. I mentioned that at the team's last game the venue had no locker rooms and the players had to dress for the game in the parking lot. That was not a unique experience. They've had practice at it -- dressing for practice.

John McQuiston Photograph
See? I'm not making this up. We interviewed four players, including running back Calvin Williams, who also co-owns the team and who -- all 5'7" of him -- at age 31 still believes he has a future in the NFL. Then again, if he doesn't believe it, who will?

The other three players had a more realistic outlook. This is not a career move for them. It's a way to keep what may have been the highlights of their lives alive a little longer. By day, Michael Peterson does tree trimming and lawn care. On this team he is still the star quarterback whose dazzling scrambles lead his team to victories.

The players have to have their own insurance and since this isn't a paying job, there's no workman's comp if they suffer an injury. All the players said they understood that risking their limbs meant risking their livelihoods. They know the stakes are higher but wanting to play outweighs the danger.

Ronnie Fincher pointed out that people could get hurt in car crashes or other accidents. He would know. In his job, the 38-year-old married father works as a Sarasota firefighter.

We plan to follow Ronnie and perhaps Michael (called "Mike Pete" by everyone on the team) through part of a regular workday. This will draw the stark contrast between their ordinary lives and their unusual "hobby," as one player called it.

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