QB Grady earns high marks for playoff-bound Power

Power quarterback Tommy Grady, passes against the Gladiators on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Power quarterback Tommy Grady, passes against the Gladiators on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Photo by Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review file
Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 10:51 p.m.

Recruiters often don't follow through on their promises. Give Power officials credit: They didn't bring Tommy Grady to Pittsburgh under false pretenses.

They said he would call his own plays, and that's what he has done.

“That was one of the recruiting tools,” said Grady, the team's choice when it was awarded first pick in the Utah Blaze dispersal draft. “Ninety-five percent of the calls are my calls.”

The results have been to everyone's liking.

The Power (15-3) enter the Arena Football League playoffs for the first time in franchise history Sunday in Orlando, Fla. largely on the head and right arm of Grady, who has thrown for 4,717 yards and 115 touchdowns.

Good numbers, but not even close to Grady's best.

In 2012 when he played for the now-defunct Blaze, Grady set AFL records in passing yardage (5,870) and touchdowns (142), an amazing per-game average of 326 yards and 7.8 touchdowns, with a 68.2 completion percentage. He was named AFL MVP.

Grady is a strong candidate for the award this season, but he has serious competition from quarterbacks Nick Davila of Arizona and Shane Austin of Cleveland.

Davila, the 2011 MVP, has thrown for 4,778 yards and 127 touchdowns while leading the two-time defending champion Rattlers to a 15-3 record. Austin, who was a Power quarterback last season, has recorded 4,478 passing yards and 99 touchdowns in the Gladiators' AFL-record 17-1 season, including two victories in three games against the Power.

A poll by the eight-person staff at Arenafan.com was split — four votes for Austin and four for Davila.

AFL coaches vote for the MVP, but they can't pick their player, the Power's Ron James said.

“I certainly would (vote for Grady),” he said. “But you can make a case for a lot of the quarterbacks.”

James, who was Grady's coach in Utah, said he believes his quarterback is playing better than he did in 2012.

“It was a totally different offense with a very consistent group of wide receivers (in Utah),” he said. “This year, he has had to adjust to a lot of different faces and personalties.”Injuries ended the season for wide receivers Aaron Lesue and Rodney Wright after six and nine games, respectively. Prechae Rodriguez and Tyrone Goard have missed significant time. Only Shaun Kauleinamoku has played in all 18 games. Overall, Grady has completed at least 21 passes to seven players.

“I thought this has been my best year in arena football,” said Grady, a five-year veteran. “I have a lot more on my shoulders, calling the plays and executing the plays.”

He doesn't consult with James between plays as much as Power quarterbacks have done with coaches in previous seasons. But James makes some of the important calls.

“He usually comes up with some good stuff,” Grady said.

Grady said the Power are more talented than the 2012 Utah team that had a two-touchdown lead in the last minute of the National Conference title game before losing to Arizona.

James said he couldn't sleep for several days after that loss. Grady said, “It still sticks with me.”

Such a loss underscores the wild nature of the game.

“There are bars. There are nets. There are walls,” he said. “Anything can happen.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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