Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

July 9, 2014

O'Brien hopes Arena League play lands him a chance in the NFL

Former Cass standout hopes Arena League leads to NFL chance

Kitt O’Brien hopes to feel fatigued, sore, and physically beat up in a few months.

That pain would mean the former Lewis Cass standout has reached one of his biggest goals: playing in the NFL. And if he earns a roster spot, the position will have been earned.

O’Brien is a starting offensive lineman for the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena League, where he makes roughly $14,550 “for the entire season.” The Gladiators (14-1) share the league’s best record and O’Brien wants to parlay those successes into a NFL roster spot.

The Arena League began its season in mid-March. So that means if O’Brien would land a spot on an NFL roster, he will have to endure the physical and mental toll that accompanies roughly 10 consecutive months of practices and games.

And that would be just fine with him.

“Ultimately, if you’re goal is to play in the NFL then you suck it up and get through,” O’Brien said. “I would suck it up and go play football because that is what I was put on this earth to do.”

O’Brien is getting noticed in the Arena League, receiving a contract offer from British Columbia of the Canadian Football League in May. He turned down that offer partly because of a short window he had to decide.

“I have loftier goals and that’s to play in the NFL,” O’Brien said. “My coaching staff has good connections and they have been talking to some NFL teams and getting good feedback.”

About 40 Arena League players earned invitations to NFL training camps last year, so it’s a distinct possibility O’Brien will get a second chance to reach his goal.

“He would be versatile,” Cleveland coach Steve Thonn said. “I think an [NFL] team could plug him in and try him at a few places. I think Kitt could really fit in as a guard, center, or even tackle. That would be his biggest strong point.”

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