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Raymond Philyaw Returns to Arena Football with SaberCats: Fan Take
Raymond Philyaw has tried the coaching thing, but even after an illustrious 10-year career in the Arena Football League, he's not ready to hang up the cleats yet, signing on with the San Jose SaberCats for the 2012 season.
"Raymond has been one of the top quarterbacks over the last decade in the Arena Football League," said SaberCats owner and head coach Darren Arbet in a press release. "His level of understanding of the game and veteran presence will be an asset to our team."
Philyaw, 6-foot-0 and 215 pounds, starred at Northeast Louisiana—now known as Louisiana-Monroe—in college, setting the school's records for career passing yards (7,061) and touchdowns (52). He was inducted into the university's athletic hall of fame in 2009.
After spending 1997 and 1998 with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Philyaw embarked on his indoor football career, playing for the Madison Mad Dogs of the Professional Indoor Football League. He led the Mad Dogs to the IFL championship game before turning his attention to the Arena Football League in 2000.
Philyaw began his AFL career with the Albany Firebirds, moving with the team to Indianapolis in 2001 when they became the Indiana Firebirds. There, he caught the attention of some guy who showed up to check out the newest professional football team in town and to see what this whole arena football thing was all about. In large part because of Philyaw's excellent decision-making, his surgical accuracy with his arm, and his escapability with his legs, I got hopelessly hooked on the Firebirds and on the Arena Football League.
In 2004, Philyaw moved three hours north to the Chicago Rush, playing there for two seasons and unwittingly recruiting a new Rush fan with him. When the Firebirds ceased operations after the 2004 season—and broke my heart—the Rush also became the closest team to my home in central Indiana. For me, the rest is history. I've been an avid fan of the Rush ever since.
For Philyaw, though, Chicago wasn't his ultimate destination. He moved on to the Kansas City Brigade—now the Kansas City Command—for the 2006 and 2007 seasons and then to the Cleveland Gladiators for the 2008 season before the league called timeout for 2009. He returned to the field with the financially restructured league in 2010 as the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings' quarterback, and in 2011, he returned to the Battle Wings—in their reincarnated form, the New Orleans VooDoo—as the team's offensive coordinator.
Over his 10 years in the Arena Football League, Philyaw has thrown for 26,562 yards and 509 touchdowns against just 59 interceptions. That 8.6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio stands as the best all-time in AFL history. He has also rushed for 341 yards and scored 36 times on the ground.
Philyaw has a career 63-48 record, leading four different teams to the playoffs and amassing an 8-6 postseason record.
For me, June 30 just took on added significance. That's when the SaberCats come to the Windy City to visit the Rush. With any luck, I'll be able to meet the man who is largely responsible for making me into the arena football nut that I am today. It's not often that a fan of a professional football league has that opportunity—just another in the long list of reasons why I love the Arena Football League so much.
Long before June 30, however, the SaberCats kick off their 2012 season with a home game against the National Conference champion and division rival Arizona Rattlers on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. PT.
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