September 18, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Sports News
Media - contact Dave Burch at AFA National Office
(877)624-4485 or (941)388-3510

"Sunday, September 18th at 11am ET on ESPN, "The Mayne Event" — Kenny Mayne's weekly off-beat segment on Sunday NFL Countdown — will focus on a 72-year-old AFA Semi-Pro Football Hall of Famer who surprisingly could be an asset to current NFL teams in search of a dependable place kicker. The tongue-in-check profile entitled "The Mayne Event - Still Kicking" will take viewers into the kicking routine of the long-retired player and how he has maintained the place kicking skills from his semi-pro gridiron era.

The Still Kicking feature will run Sunday (Sept. 18) 11 am on "Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN's two-hour live NFL pregame show, previewing the entire day of NFL action, with host Chris Berman, analysts Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson, Steve Young, Mike Ditka and NFL insider Chris Mortensen.

Although the AFA national office agreed not to release the name of this semi-pro place kicker prior to the ESPN Sunday airing, we can give our AFA members a little hint. He is the oldest active player in semi-pro football’s more than 100 years of existence. He was inducted into the AFA Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992 and since coming out of retirement has been playing and coaching with various teams across the country including Team USA (in international competition) - and he still makes annual appearances in Las Vegas at the Casino Bowl All-star games in early spring.

At the ripe old age of 72, this semi-pro hall of fame legend still conducts his trade mark half-time field goal kicking exhibition of being able to kick 10 balls, one after the other, and having all ten in the air at the same time - each splitting the uprights - with the 10th ball in the air before the first ball kicked hits the ground.

Even though Sunday’s ESPN “The Mayne Event - Still Kicking” may be a tongue-in-check shot at the current NFL kicking game, the segment will help bring a little ‘awareness’ to the semi-pro level of the game and those who dedicate a lifetime to playing in the lower level of this country’s greatest sport - FOOTBALL - all for the love of the game!

Not that semi-pro footballers have to be told to watch the NFL in action all day Sunday in hopes of seeing someone they know or may have played with, or against in college at one time or another … but paying close attention to the commercials may just have you spotting a few familiar faces on the sidelines or in the game action.

Ever wonder where the national advertising agencies get all those NFL looking players to simulate NFL teams during the filming of football related product commercials? You guessed it - many are from the ranks of the “Semi-Pro and Proud”. While making TV commercials is obviously very lucrative for those agencies involved in promoting their clients products with the use of NFL super stars, paying NFL players to work as extras in those commercials would be very costly. Using and paying college players is a no-no. Hiring actors, without football playing experience, could leave a 30 or 60 second commercial short of the ‘reality-look’ the agencies are trying to accomplish for their clients. So the agencies have turned to the semi-pro ranks to fill the screen with authentic NFL “look-a-likes”.

While most semi-pro players are short of what it takes to make it in the big time (NFL) playing talent wise - strange enough - the fact is - that standing on the sideline (in an NFL uniform) or running plays during the filming of a TV commercial, our semi-pro guys fill the bill just fine. Trying to get an ‘actor’ to run up the gut, take a hit over the middle or make a QB sack look real for the cameras - just don’t do it.

So the next time you see one of those national TV commercials featuring NFL super stars selling a popular product - look closely at the football stand-ins. They may very well be some semi-pro guy you played or coached against last week.

In recent months agency producers have contacted several AFA member teams regarding the use of players and coaches to give their TV commercials the professional football appearance they are looking for. One such Chunky Soup commercial, featuring Philadelphia Eagle’s quarterback Donovan McNabb, is currently airing. Several Empire Football League players were used in the production of that popular TV spot. The agency relied heavily on the coaching experience of AFA Hall of Famer George Ashcraft from the EFL’s Watertown (New York) Red & Black. Ashcraft provided the agency with the technical football advice (and several EFL players) they needed to make the McNabb/Chunky Soup commercial convincing to the viewers.

Over the years several semi-pro players have found their way into our living rooms and dens via TV commercials and movie appearances disguised as professional football players. You just didn’t know it! On October 7th the Empire Football League will get a little more ‘pub’ as the AFA’s oldest operating semi-pro football league in the country when movie goers may get a glimpse of the EFL’s logo, which was sought for use in conjunction with a player contract and letters from football leagues used as props in the soon to be released football movie - “Two For The Money”.

“Two For the Money” stars Matthew McConaughey as a star college player who is at the top of his sport until he blows out his knee during a game. This forces him to choose a new profession. He winds up getting into the sports gambling business and is eventually recruited by a renowned bookie (Al Pacino), who runs one of the best sports-booking operations in the country. This motion picture also stars Rene Russo and will be directed by DJ Caruso and distributed by Universal Pictures.