By Rich Garven
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2019 at 6:03 PM Updated July 28 by Mick Moninghoff
WORCESTER — Mardy Gilyard played professional football in six states, two countries and three leagues during an eight-year tour before arriving in Worcester in the spring of 2018.
The veteran receiver with NFL, CFL and AFL experience has settled in nicely during his two seasons with the Massachusetts Pirates, providing production — at a stupendously sensational level this year — and leadership.
Gilyard has so thoroughly enjoyed his experience in Central Mass. that when the season ends next month for the playoff-bound Pirates, he plans to stick around.
“I’m not going anywhere, so I’ll be here working and living,” the 32-year-old South Florida native said earlier this week. “I’d like to get into some coaching — if you know a high school that has a vacancy by all means throw them my résumé.
“I’m just going to try to keep my roots in the community. I love the community here; Worcester has been good to me. I guess I’m kind of addicted to what I do here.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Gilyard finished the regular season with National Arena League single season records of 33 total touchdowns and 198 points (29 receiving touchdowns plus four rushing). He was fourth in receiving yards with 978 and fourth in receptions with 84.
Chalk up those noteworthy numbers to a willingness to put in the time, combined with, he believes, some help from above.
“I’ve been blessed that God has kept me in his favor over this season,” said Gilyard, who along with Brackett are the only offensive skill position players on the Pirates to appear in all 14 games. “I’m putting up crazy numbers despite being targeted less than any receiver that might have any stats that are better than me.
“For me, leading the NAL scoring and being the oldest receiver in the league is a blessing. It just shows how much we work hard, how much I work in the offseason. I put the work in in the offseason just so I make sure I do what I need to do to make sure we’re successful.”
Gilyard also credited the chemistry he has developed with Brackett and center Thomas Claiborne, a Wellesley High and Boston College grad, for his success.
The three highly regarded and talented veterans spend an exorbitant amount of time together, including after-practice sessions, and make sure to sit together during team meetings. Anything to ensure they’re always on the same page of the playbook.
“I want to know what Sean is thinking and he wants to know what I’m thinking,” Gilyard said. “We want to know what Thomas is thinking because the three of us are the core of the offense. … So for us the chemistry is important.”
And while Gilyard plans to stick around Worcester after this season, he’d like to do the same when it comes to the Pirates and next season.
“Well, I hope Mass. re-signs me,” he said.