Last week, the AFL insiders made their midseason award picks.
The only unanimous selection was Shane Carden for the Rookie of the Year. In his first season out of East Carolina, Carden has emerged as a star for the Baltimore Brigade. He has 36 passing touchdowns and five on the ground through nine games. His success as a rookie has put him in the conversation with AFL and NFL legend Kurt Warner. “That’s awesome – with what he did in the league and continued to do in the NFL – any quarterback in this league would be happy with those comparisons,” admits Carden. “It’s humbling and it’s a cool feeling. I have a lot of respect for that guy.”
Like Warner, Carden has been underestimated most of his football career. He was a two star recruit out of high school, and after an illustrious career at East Carolina, he went undrafted. He explains, “I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. Just enjoy it. A lot of people are going to say things, good and bad. As long as you get an opportunity to play, just take advantage of that opportunity and have fun with it.”
The Southern California native demands a lot from himself. Entering the season, he shares,”I had pretty high expectations. I wanted to come in and start. We joked around in the beginning – I wanted to be one of the top five guys in the league – and obviously there are only five teams. I wanted to come in and dominate early. I wasn’t the starter (in Week 1) and I was pretty bummed about that. I was getting my opportunity and I was ready to go.” When asked if he has surpassed his lofty goals for this season, Carden states “I don’t think I am exceeding them but I certainly don’t have any limit to what I want to do this year. I’m just kind of moving in the right direction.”
He spent the offseason before this breakout rookie year in an unusual place. Carden played for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League. His biggest takeaway from the season there was “just enjoying the game.”
Football fans have certainly enjoyed watching Carden sling the ball around for the Brigade. He was a big fan of Brett Favre growing up, and his versatility inside and outside of the pocket resembles the NFL Hall of Famer. The Arena Football League’s most exciting young player has a message for people not watching the indoor league. “I mean, everyone is complaining about football being so many days away. There’s football going on right now. It’s exciting. There’s more scoring and there are plenty of big hits. They’re missing out on football right now,” proclaims Carden.
You can see Shane Carden and the Baltimore Brigade tomorrow, as they travel to Cleveland to face the Gladiators. Last time the two teams faced off, Baltimore used a late goal line stand to come away with a 63-60 victory. Friday’s game will be streamed live on Twitter, a part of the AFL’s new partnership with the social media platform.