Former Duquesne standout Fields wants 1 more chance
All Elijah Fields wants is a chance … another chance, that is.
And if that has to come from the Green Bay Blizzard of the Indoor Football League, then so be it.
From being a former all-state player in high school at Duquesne to a starting defensive back at Pitt to being kicked off the team under a shroud of controversy before his senior year, Fields never abandoned his dream of playing professional football, He will do so for the next five months in Green Bay in hopes of parlaying it into an invitation to an NFL training camp in August.
“I just have to do what I have to in order to move up,” Fields said. “The hardest thing is to get my foot in the door. I am just trying to get more film on me in the IFL and get somebody to notice.”
It's been a tough to get anybody to notice Fields since his collegiate career came to an abrupt end on Feb. 18, 2010, when Pitt dismissed him from the team for disciplinary reasons.
Fields (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) was also suspended for Pitt's 2007 season for violating team rules, but he was able to put that behind him in having a breakout junior season playing in 12 of 13 games, finishing with 34 tackles and tying for the team lead with three interceptions.
However, after the dismissal from Pitt, Fields' transfer to FCS school North Alabama was denied after what he called lack of transferable credits. He then tried Division II California (Pa.), and that fell through as well.
Fields drew no interest during the 2010 NFL Draft, not getting a call to go to a training camp as an undrafted free agent, nor getting a workout with a pro team.
“I thought I would at least be invited to a camp,” Fields said. “But it really hurt me that I wasn't able to play my senior year. I think they judged me from my past, and I think it is very unfair. Instead of people coming to me to find out what happened, they just heard it from other people.”
Fields, 24, couldn't catch on with the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League after tryouts in 2010 and '11.
“I always felt that I've came too far to give up now,” Fields said.
Fields was able to catch on with Cedar Rapids of the IFL last year and was impressive, playing safety and collecting 49 tackles in seven games as a safety before breaking his hand and missed the second half of the season.
“It is real different,” Fields said. “I got adjusted to it pretty quickly, and it was kind of cool.”
Fields showed enough in a limited time that Green Bay was willing to trade one of its best receivers for Fields two weeks ago. The Blizzard, whose part owner is former Packers running back Ahman Green, finished 11-3 last year and advanced to the conference semifinals.
But make no mistake about it — the IFL is far from the NFL. IFL players make a base salary of approximately $250 per game over a 14-game schedule, or $3,500 per season.
It doesn't matter to Fields.
“I just want to show the world that I can play,” Fields said. “This is an opportunity to put that on tape.”
The IFL is a nine-team league based mostly out of the Midwest. There are teams from Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado and Washington.
The IFL became better known last year when former NFL receiver Terrell Owens played for the Allen Wranglers, but the league does have a solid following.
Green Bay plays its home games at the 10,000-seat Resch Center, home of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay basketball teams.
“I am really looking forward to this year,” Fields said. “All I ever wanted was a chance, and this is a chance I am going to use to prove myself.”
The Blizzard open the season by hosting defending United Bowl champion Sioux Falls Storm on Feb. 15.