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Want to Put the Helmet Back On? Here's Your Chance.

Gridiron Alumni has put several full-contact alumni football games together in California. Now, they want to come to the Bay Area.

 

Adam Tafralis, are you out there? Paul Fanaika, can you hear me?

Any other former football stars at Mills High hanging out, just itching for one more game against Capuchino?

Well, one man's idea may make your dream a reality.

Chris Hall wants to bring full-contact alumni football games to the Bay Area, and Mills High School is one of the schools he's targeting.

Hall, a Redding resident and former standout football player himself, owns a company named Gridiron Alumni. His company organizes alumni from local schools, provides the shoulder pads and cleats, sets up practice sessions, organizes a game, hires the officials, rents the field, and finally holds the event for those of us who always wanted that 'one more chance' to bask on our own field of dreams.

"The electricity that these games build is unbelievable," says Hall.

The company held eight alumni games last Fall in California, primarily in Northern California - Redding, Red Bluff, Weberville, Portola among them - and in the Sacramento area. Gridiron Alumni had success this Spring in Southern states such as Louisiana, Georgia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.

"I did a game two weeks ago in North Carolina where 3600 spectators were at the game," says Hall.

The first 40 players who sign up on each team get to play. When it comes to matchups, the team that gets 30 people registered first gets home field advantage.

"The typical challenge is health," says Hall. "That's why we try to give the guys eight weeks or more just to get in shape. A lot of these guys will come up off the couch for the first time in ten years; we want to ease them into it, we don't want to just throw them into a game and hurt each other."

Often, there are huge side benefits. "I typically have four or five guys that lose 30 pounds or more as they are getting ready for the games," says Hall. "I've had wives come up to me and say 'Thank you so much for bringing back his passion for life.' It's more than football, it really is."

The age range of the players varies widely. YouTube video of a 77-year-old scoring a touchdown in one of the Gridiron games is attached.

Hall remembers the occasion. "I walked out on the field and told the defense 'I'm bringing him in. Don't touch him, or I'll kill you.' This guy was in the Hall of Fame for the school he was playing on."

There is a player fee of $70. That fee pays for the expenses Gridiron Alumni incurs, including the cost of moving the helmets, pads and other equipment each player uses from town to town, the cost of renting the stadiums, and other expenses.

There is one alumni game - in either August or September - after the practice sessions.

"A lot of guys will say they want to play more than one," says Hall, "but after that one game, they usually back off that statement and say 'See you next year.'"

In addition to Mills, Hall hopes to sign up players from high schools in Burlingame, San Francisco, San Bruno and the rest of the Peninsula. All teams must be registered and paid before July 30, 2012.

Hall likes what he is doing. "The ability to give these guys a chance to strap it on one more time, it's just about the neatest job anybody could ask for. I sometimes tell people I'm the Walt Disney for adults."

And by the way, for those new to the area, or those that don't remember, Tafralis and Fanaika are football standouts who attended Mills High and went on to greater things, Tafralis now a quarterback who plays for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, Fanaika a guard who signed a contract to play with the Seattle Seahawks last December.

You can sign up for the chance to play on the Mills squad at this website.

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