IBM Big Blue have made the Japan X Bowl for just the second time in their history. In that December 18th game at Tokyo Dome they will face Fujitsu Frontiers, the team that defeated them 44-10 in that 2014 final.
We sat down with the American players on the team to get their thoughts on the upcoming game as well as football in general in Japan and elsewhere.
The four men have a wide and diverse playing history ranging from the NFL and big Div.1 programs to teams in France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. They have seen the highs of the game and the lows and even had stretches when they were out of football completely.
Interviewed by veteran sportswriter Ken Marantz were:
A standout DE at Arizona State where he famously blocked two PATs in an overtime win over state rivals Arizona Wildcats, Brooks has been involved with teams in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. In 2017 he was named to the All-League team for a fourth straight season.
A former UCLA QB who has also played in France for Cougars de Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône. Craft runs the Big Blue offense along with head coach Shinzo Yamada. In the 2014 semifinal against Lixil Deers he threw 9 TDs and the two time All-League selection still holds the second and third highest season yardage totals in Japan.
A converted LB who has just earned his fourth All-League selection at TE, Stanton originally came to Japan on work unrelated to football but has been one of Craft’s primary targets in the passing game over the past four years.
After stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, the Hawaiian native was out of football for a couple of years before joining Big Blue. As his conditioning has returned he has been a force on the DLine along with Brooks and their battle with Fujitsu’s powerful front with play a major part in deciding the XLeague champions for 2017