Becoming an Arena football player doesn’t come with the glamour and salary of the National Football League (NFL), but it is professional football. The Arena Football League (AFL) used to offer livable and sometimes, lucrative salaries. In 2009, the AFL went belly up and came back as a part-time job opportunity for players that couldn’t make the NFL. Still, promising players will settle for a few hundred dollars per game and the chance to be scouted by an NFL team. The AFL season runs from March until September. Four teams play a 13 game series, along with a final tournament. It takes grit and hard work to power through the AFL experience, but some players leverage the experience to move up in the football world. Every game is an opportunity to be seen by a scout and secure a chance to play for an NFL team.
Most AFL football players work a part-time job to supplement their arena league salary, but each day demands significant physical and mental training for their role on the team. Ambition is key for an AFL football player. Constant physical workouts are a mainstay of their daily task list. During the AFL season, players will spend time reviewing game film, learning plays and attending daily practices. AFL players are always on call, hoping they’ll get tapped for a workout with an NFL team. Patience and flexibility is a critical part of the waiting game. A player may be called to work out or try out for an NFL team, but there’s no guarantee of a spot on the roster. If they do get a chance to show off their skills, they must have an exemplary performance to be offered an NFL contract.
Even though the AFL isn’t the NFL, it takes talent and preparation to make the cut. You’re likely to be one of a 200 top players that go to an open tryout. You’ll demonstrate your skills by playing practice rounds and executing drills. If you’re lucky, you’ll be one of the 70 players that’s invited to a training camp. Some teams may even cut it down to 35 players, depending upon their needs. Two players out of the remaining 35 are likely to be tapped to play in the league, after the training camp. Expect to pay a fee to tryout and don’t come unprepared. You’ll need to be in top physical condition and showcase your best moves, when you play, in each step of the evaluative process. You can look at local team websites for open tryout information.
AFL players play on a home team and travel to other locations for away games. Players can be traded to other teams, under the terms of their collective bargaining unit contract. In the event of a trade, players are provided with nominal compensation to assist with moving costs.
Years of Experience and Salary
AFL salaries vary, depending upon position and time spent in the league. The entry-level pay for players, other than quarterbacks, is $775 per game. Quarterbacks receive an additional $250 per game for their arena football salary, because they are critical to team success. Veterans make about $50 more per game than rookies. When the players are in season, they are offered affordable housing and meals. When players are in travel status, they are given a per diem to defray housing and food costs. Transportation to away games is paid for by the team. Returning players are often awarded $75 for pre-season training camp. Some teams also offer signing bonuses to veterans that agree to a multi-year contract.
Job Growth Trend
Although the AFL has been in existence for more than 20 years, the operation runs on a shoestring budget and has had financial difficulties in the past. The number of teams in the league has declined from six to four. Since there are only four teams, there are a limited number of player positions available.