When Carlos Cox signed on with the Joao Pessoa Espectros four years ago in the BFA, Brazil’s top league, he didn’t realize he would be on a long journey.
The year before, the Espectros had won the Brazilian title. They have not won one since. This year, they look poised to achieve that feat again. Two weeks ago, Cox and the Espectros silenced the doubters in the semifinals by defeating the Galo FA from Belo Horizonte in Brazil, snapping an incredible 44 game Galo winning streak and qualifying for the Brazilian championship game for the sixth time since 2012.
The Espectros will face the Timbo Rex in the Brazilian championship game on Saturday, December 14.
Cox, a Newark, New Jersey native, was a two-year starter at Friends University (2013/2014) at cornerback but has been playing both ways for Joao Pessoa since arriving.
AFI asked Cox about reaching the final and the growth of the game in Brazil.
AFI: You finally defeated the Galo after losing two straight Brazilian Bowls to them. How big was that win?
Cox: The win was huge. No one outside of the Espectros believed we could beat Galo. Showed the heart and determination of this team.
AFI: You have a chance to help the Espectros win their first title since 2015. What do you have to improve on?
Cox: We have to improve our communication and avoid taking penalties.
AFI: This is the first time Espectros has faced Timbo Rex since the league was formed in 2012. How much do you know about them?
Cox: I know them pretty well. My first season here we were one game away from meeting them in the Brazil bowl in 2016 and followed them closely. They are a team I have been wanting to play against for a long time.
AFI: You have spent the last four seasons playing for the Espectros. How much has the game and the team changed and improved over that time?
Cox: The game here has grown so much over the years. My first year here I did not see any football here outside the Espectros but today it’s the opposite. From sand football on the beach to flag football to even adding females into the sport. And with the team I see a lot of young guys getting more interested and involved. The older players helping pass on the knowledge and mentality to play this sport. And this team was based on love for the game and family and it shows each practice and game.
AFI: You have a QB in Alex Niznak who has played in Sweden, Brazil and Japan. How much has he impacted the offense?
Cox: He has been a big piece to this championship puzzle. He throws the ball with such velocity and power that he helps our defense because we face the best in practice which makes our games not so difficult.
AFI: Anything else you would like to add?
Cox: Thanks for the opportunity and I’m looking forward to explore more in Europe