Saturday, June 26, 1999

I N D O O R _F O O T B A L L

football life far
from glamorous

Players get paid $200 a game,
work full-time jobs and have
exhausting travel arrangements

By Pat Bigold


Their club is struggling financially, their former general manager is suing, and life on the road can be hell.

They're getting paid only $200 a game for the abuse their bodies take each week. They have to endure their aches and bruises whle working full-time jobs during the week. And they don't even know if their team has a future.

The Hawaii Hammerheads have to really love playing the game of football to hang in there.

But they do, and they're starting to ignite some interest with their roster of once-upon-a-time names.

Eddie Klaneski, Falaniko Vitale, Tim Carey, Brendyn Agbayani, Chris Paogofie, Zac Odom and Roy Maafala have looked anything but washed up helping the club win four of its last five games in the Indoor Professional Football League.

If the second-place Hammerheads (6-4) can beat the Rocky Mountain Thunder (4-6) for the second time in two weeks at the World Arena in Colorado Springs tonight, they will have set the stage for what could be a franchise-saving homecoming game.

The league-leading Texas Terminators (9-1) will be at Blaisdell Arena for a Fourth of July eve showdown.

Hawaii fans love a winner and therein lie the Hammerheads' hopes for survival as a franchise over the last six games of the schedule.

It's amazing the Hammerheads can win at all on the road.

Head coach Guy Benjamin, a former NFL quarterback, said he's never seen a team travel under such dire conditions.

Benjamin said the players, larger than the average passenger, often can't get aisle seats.

"It's tough," he said. "They stand most of the time."

And sometimes the team can't even travel as a team.

"We've had to split the team up twice so far this season," said Benjamin. "We couldn't get seats on the same plane."

They lose a night of sleep from flying all Thursday night. Arriving at about noon the next day at their mainland destination, they hold a full practice after a light nap. Jet-lagged, they try to sleep in on game day.

"Then they play with one night of sleep in two days," said Benjamin.

Benjamin said after the game, players are still keyed up and don't get to bed until about 2 a.m. Some don't sleep at all before leaving for the airport in the pre-dawn darkness. "So we don't sleep Thursday or Saturday," he said.

The Hammerheads don't have a regular practice facility at home. They rely upon the good graces of local high school athletic directors who allow them to use their fields.

Nonetheless, the Hammerheads seem to be drawing some support locally and on the mainland.

In a fan poll conducted on a link to the IPFL's internet website (, the Hammerheads currently rate as the league's most popular team, with 24 percent of the vote.

Team officials hope that will translate into the team's first turnout approaching 1,000 next week.

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