Five months after the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII, former standout wide receiver Jason Avant will play in the Ultimate Final of the American Flag Football League.
"A good friend of mine, (former NFL running back) Justin Forsett, called and said, 'Hey, I have this flag football league, and I need some guys to play that's kind of in shape,'" said Avant, who spent eight seasons with the Eagles from 2006-13 and finished his 10-year NFL career in 2015 with Kansas City. "And he asked me if I was in shape. I was like, 'I'm in good shape. I'm not in football-playing shape, but I can be sufficient.'"
Sufficient enough to have eight receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown in Godspeed's 28-12 victory over Chad Johnson's Team Ocho in the Pro Bracket title game Saturday night in Indianapolis.
Godspeed, co-captained by Forsett and four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, is a team of former professional athletes. They'll meet the America Bracket champions, Fighting Cancer, made up of players without NFL experience, Thursday evening in New Orleans with $1 million at stake. NFL Network will broadcast the game.
"The team that we're playing hasn't lost in five years," Avant said. "So, we're looking forward to showing everybody why we're former professional athletes, but also want to see the Joes compete and see if they can compete at the level that we compete.
"Everybody's going to be rooting for them. You've got to root for them. I like this team. We've had a lot of interaction with them over the last month or so, and they're all a bunch of good guys. If we weren't playing them, we would definitely root for them."
Besides not being tackled, what has Avant enjoyed about being back out on the field again?
"I would say creating a locker room culture again. Since a lot of our team (live) in different states, we have to video conference (to install a game plan). And half of that time it's just cracking jokes on each other. As far as missing the real game of football, I just miss that on Sundays. Other than that, I have no desire to try to compete with the NFL elite all year long. That game is 11 months of training for 16 games, so it's a lot," Avant said with a laugh.
"It's been fun. It's exposure in a lot of different ways. In normal football, your helmet is always on, and so you don't have facial recognition at all. But the good thing about this game is your helmet is off; people know who you are and different things like that. So, it kind of helps you in a lot of different ways. I'm excited about the experience, and I'm looking forward to winning."
Between playing in the Flag Football League and recently participating on NBC's television show, American Ninja Warrior, Avant's competitive juices have clearly not stopped flowing.
"No, that won't ever happen. After this I'll probably start taking up golf eventually when I can't use my ability anymore, and I hate golf," laughed Avant, who owns and operates Launch Trampoline Park in Deptford, New Jersey. "I'll always be doing something.
"I got three-quarters of the way (through the American Ninja Warrior course). It was a lot tougher than I thought it'd be. But I'm going to try it again next year because I understand how the obstacles work. That's the biggest thing for non-Ninjas; you have to get familiar with each obstacle in order for you to be successful, and I didn't have that."