With the first pick in the 2016 China Arena Football League Draft the Qingdao Clippers selected quarterback Bryan Randall.
Ready to hang up his cleats and put football in his rear view – Randall at 32 years old has a rare opportunity to be the face of a football franchise.
Randall a veteran quarterback played collegiately for Virgina Tech, and went un-drafted out of college in 2005. He has played for a variety of teams in the NFL, CFL and arena leagues over the last 12 years; Never playing for a team more than one season.
But it was while playing the indoor game that his career has blossomed, winning two MVP awards. First, for the Richmond Revolution (2010), and again for the Laredo Rattlesnakes (2013) in the Lone Star Football League.
The selection did not shock Randall much. While serving as a backup quarterback last year with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, there was heavy commotion of efforts to start the league in China. The part-owner and team president of the Soul, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski is also a partner in the Chinese league. He had hinted at the CAFL creation for a long time to anyone that would listen.
“I would hear talks about it,”Randall told Norm Wood of the Daily Press. “I didn’t know if it would be last year or whenever, but they just kept talking about it, so I’ve been hearing about it for a while. When guys first started putting their names in for draft eligibility last year, they were talking about guys getting their passports so they could be eligible.”
The China Arena Football League is the first professional football league in the west, and will serve as a developmental arena league. The CAFL will feature American players who are on current rosters along with Chinese born players. The mix of players will give American players a chance to continue in their professional career, and help build a competitive league.
“They’re trying to globalize it,” Randall told the Daily Press. “Even though the Chinese players may not be up to par with where we are as athletes in football, this is our (American) game. It may water the game down a little bit, but to bring up the league and have the Chinese people playing in China, they’ve got to play. They’ve just got to play.”
The plan is for a two week preseason, and the league to play a short first season of about eight weeks beginning in late September. The inaugural season will be known as the “Super Series,” and the inaugural championship game will be called “The China Bowl.” The championship game will be played the first weekend in November.
Randall is ready and excited for the opportunity to play in the CAFL. For the football journeyman, he has the chance to lead a franchise into the future, and end his career on his own terms.