Arena Origins: Sean Brackett
By Sam Gordon
Even the ones who emerge at the top of this profession, struggle with the changes that arena football brings. Look no further than 2018 NAL MVP Sean Brackett, who was far from a natural.
“When I was at my first arena football practice, I thought it was crazy honestly,” Brackett told masspiratesfootball.com. “Coming from outdoor because everyone played outdoor in college and then working out with NFL and CFL teams where everything is just so much bigger. So once you get into the box, the major difference between arena football and outdoor football is the dimensions because everything is sped up inside.”
Brackett even went as far as saying learning the tempo of arena football might be even more difficult than getting acclimated to the NFL.
“The speed of the game was quite a jump and I think even more so than even if you were to play in the NFL because it is such a smaller space,” Brackett said. “That was a major adjustment, and even as a quarterback it was a real learning adjustment with which throws you can make and reading defenses which are different as well. But, there are throws that are just physically impossible to make because of the dimensions of the field.”
The Columbia alum’s first arena football training camp was in 2013 when he spent a short time with the Utah Blaze before they ended up folding that same offseason.
It gave Brackett’s self confidence a hit as he found himself out of football for a long period of time.
“I was kind of feeling bad for myself and was out of the game for almost a year,” Brackett said.
The Las Vegas Outlaws reached out to Brackett pulling him back on the gridiron where he got his first taste of being a backup in his football career.
“I started all four years of high school and as a true freshman at Columbia when I was 17, so I wasn’t really used to being a backup and sitting behind anybody,” Brackett said. “It was kind of a major adjustment to sit back and learn the game.”
Brackett as an Outlaw. Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Brackett had quite the mentor. In his only year with the Outlaws, he was in the ear of arena football great J.J. Raterink.
“He helped me adjust tremendously,” Brackett said. “Going through the reads, understanding defenses, and offensive concepts and just kind of giving me the lay of the land as far as arena football goes. He was instrumental in helping me to gain success and getting ready to play.”
Raterink went down in the middle of the season which paved the way for Brackett’s first arena football start in Philadelphia. Poetically, where his family resides and got to see him lead an offense for the first time inside the box.
“I was very excited to show everyone what I have and all the hard work you have going through all the workouts, throwing, watching film and it all paid off,” Brackett said. “I had a pretty good game throwing a couple touchdowns and going from there I was just excited to play and kind of just got hooked on arena football from there.”
Brackett spent time with the Washington Valor after backing up Tommy Grady as a Jacksonville Shark in 2016 which helped further his football I.Q.
Everything all came together in 2018 when Brackett threw for 74 touchdown passes on his way to a Most Valuable Player award and Second-Team All-NAL selection.
“I just had confidence from past experience that I could definitely play at this level,” Brackett said. “Not just play, but succeed and put your stamp on the game in so many different ways.”
One of them being getting that championship which has alluded him his entire career.
“I’ve just been trying to prove myself right ever since and keep working on my game,” Brackett said. “Now I’m just looking for that championship and put a ring on that finger and bringing that championship to the fans here in Worcester.”