From Finland’s Seinäjoki Crocodiles to Fan Controlled Football League craziness

Marshawn Lynch, Johnny Manziel, and Quavo were all big names that helped lead the Fan-Controlled-Football League to its success this spring.

For defensive tackle Ja’Micheal Edwards-Lott, it was a season in Finland that opened the door.

“It was definitely a blessing, especially right now there’s nobody playing football. A lot of the guys in this League either were in the NFL before or just slipped through the cracks and didn’t get a opportunity. That’s what this league was for them to get film. So when I got this opportunity you know like I was like I’m about go in there and do everything I can give myself the best opportunity going forward.”

Edwards-Lott was a key member of the “Shutdown Squad” a defensive unit that moved from team to team weekly in the new dynamic league.  As member of one of two defensive units, the defensive tackle would play two games in one night on Saturdays as the “Shutdown Squad” defense rotated from team to team.

“I played for every team in the FCF. To the fans there would be a doubleheader. There would be a game at like 7 or 8 and then there would be game at like eight or nine. But for us we play the game then we go in the locker room and switch uniforms and they would come right back out.”

The FCF mitigated this problem by keeping the defensive depth strong for the units, allowing the defense to rotate often to keep players fresh.

“We would have like two or three deep on the defensive line. So it wasn’t like you were starting every game so like friends you might start the first game in the second game your back or vice versa.”

Life inside the in the FCF Bubble meant an initial quarantine and long nights stuck in a hotel room. The league helped keep players busy by providing them with insight from business moguls and associated celebrities like Quavo, Marshawn lynch, Richard Sherman, and plenty of others. After practicing together Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the players would be split up on Wednesday after they were drafted to different squads. This was one of the many unique selling points of the start-up league. On draft night, fans had a stake in which team players suited up for. The league encouraged WWE style entrances for players on draft night, even ordering costumes for more buzz. After two players, Joe Tito and James Lee, wore togas one draft night, the entrance process exploded!

“The next week one of the executives for FCF ordered a whole bunch of costume stuff from Party City! We just went over there and we started picking up stuff and planning. People were thinking we were going off the rails, but we were just trying to entertain ourselves you know, being in the bubble was crazy.”

Before starring on Twitch’s most popular football league, the big man from Texas had played for Grambling State after an impressive high school career for the Foster Falcons. Following an injury at Grambling State, the athletic nose guard transferred to Nicholls State in Louisiana. As a member of the Colonels, Edwards-Lott had a breakout junior season with 20 tackles and a tackle for a loss. The next year, a new coaching staff and an influx of junior college transfers sent the starter to the bench. The FCF star reflects on his disappointing senior season:

“Its cool everything, I missed out on at that time God is bringing back from so I guess the FCF was kind of like my last chance U.”

Ja’Micheal Edwards-Lott #98 and teammates waving at drone during game

After a workout with the Houston Texans and no other leads on a professional career, Edwards-Lott found football in Europe while scrolling on Instagram. His former teammate at Grambling State. Troy Roach, posted himself playing for the Porvoo Butchers of Finland’s Maple League. Soon after, the Nicholls State product followed Roach’s footsteps and signed with the Seinajoki Crocodiles, also in Finland. The first-time import recorded 29 tackles and 7 tackles for a loss during the 2018 Maple League season. The lone season in Finland was a unique experience for the southerner:

“I loved my time in Finland! It’s a great place and it has a lot of beautiful nature spots. At first, Finns can be kind of standoffish, but after they get to know you they are very good people, and pretty funny as well.”

After joining the American Patriot League in 2019, a league that eventually folded without a season, Edwards-Lott spent the following year dealing with pandemic related cancellations in Europe and unenticing arena league offers. The run-stuffer finally found the FCF through a connection with former Calgary Stampeders coach Kahlil Carter who, along with FCF head coach John Jenkins, convinced him to try out for the upstart league.

“Coach Jenkins the head coach from the FCF called me and said we are having the last try-out for the FCF coach carter is impressed with you and we want you at the workout.”

After contemplating a return to Europe football or beginning a new journey in the Fan-Controlled Football League, the former Seinäjoki Crocodile decided to go all in on the new innovative league. His decision was validated as former Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel signed with the upstart league shortly after.

“Literally the day after I signed Johnny Manziel signed. I saw their Instagram following go from six thousand to twelve thousand overnight. I knew this thing was going to be real!”

The Fan Controlled League gave Edwards-Lott a great chance to give himself more film and keep his NFL dream alive:

“The main goal is to get the NFL or Canada either one is fine with me. It is really whatever God has in store for me but I’ll just let you order my steps, but I wanted the NFL.”

The well-travelled 26-year-old is excited for his football future and to continue chasing his pro football dreams wherever they might take him.

Watch Ja’Micheal Edwards-Lott’s FCF Highlights here:

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football