Kennedy opening up doors
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — If opportunity knocks, Darnell Kennedy doesn’t answer the door.
He rips it open.
Every time a chance to play quarterback at any level comes Kennedy’s way, he not only answers the call but also turns in outstanding performances.
The chance to play for Huntington this season has been a blessing for the Heroes. Kennedy has helped the team reach the playoffs despite off-the-field problems that have cost the team two coaches and several key players.
“They were the only team to give me a chance to play arena football,” said Kennedy. “I never played before.”
Kennedy was a late signee at Alabama State and when he got a chance to start, he threw for more than 1,000 yards.
The next opportunity came in 2002 to play in the Canadian Football League and Kennedy caught on with the Toronto Argonauts. He also played for the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Renegades.
But when the Ottawa franchise folded, Kennedy was without a job. A call from Heroes assistant coach Carlos Clayton got the quarterback hooked up with head coach Teddy Keaton and it was a perfect match.
Kennedy has made the transition from the oversized CFL field to the 50-yard indoor stadium of the American Indoor Football Association.
“The biggest difference is the size of the football field. The rules are kind of the same. But it doesn’t matter. I just like football,” said Kennedy.
“In Canada just about everybody is an eligible receiver. In the arena league there are less people to read. You have to read three instead of eight.”
A truck mechanic for Penske motors in Atlanta during the off-season, Kennedy still has hopes of playing at a higher level, although not necessarily the NFL.
“I’m not so big on the NFL like I was. I was going to spend two years in Canada and get my shot at the NFL. My team folded and I was out of a job,” said the 31-year-old Kennedy.
“I just came here to see if I could play arena football. It felt pretty good. I feel good. I really want to go to Arena One and anything after that would be great. Nothing is too late.”
The love of playing the game has shown all season for Kennedy who puts team goals above personal statistics.
“I don’t know what my stats are. I just know I’ve felt good every game except maybe one or two. This is my first year running an arena offense and making plays and executing. I just want to help a lot of guys have success,” said Kennedy.
A dual threat as a passer and runner, Kennedy wants to help the Heroes win a championship and then wait for the next door to open.
“My whole career has just been waiting to get an opportunity,” said Kennedy.
For all those arena teams looking to improve next year, better unlock the door to Darnell Kennedy’s locker.