Longtime QB-WR duo Christian Strong and Jarvis McClam stay united in new challenge with ELF’s Tirol Raiders

This offseason, the Raiders Tirol signed a pair of North American imports to be leaders on the offensive side of the ball in Canadian quarterback Christian Strong and American receiver Jarvis McClam. 

These two players were somewhat of a package deal, as Strong and McClam have played together for many years, which is a rarity for North Americans playing overseas. 

First meeting on the Seton Hill University football team in Pennsylvania back in 2013, the two went on to play together in Brisbane, Australia, and Cologne, Germany, where they spent last season with the Crocodiles of the German Football League.  Now, they take on a new challenge by joining the European League of Football. 

AFI caught up with them to talk about their relationship and their upcoming season.

Note: Parts of this interview have been edited for clarity.

Photo: Hans Kaestle

AFI: What are your current plans in terms of traveling to Austria and joining the team?

Jarvis: Right now I’m just preparing for the season.  I’ve been training every day but still find the time to create content and travel.  I will be in Austria on the 26th of April.  I’m excited to join the team and ready to get right into things.

Christian: Currently I’m in Innsbruck, Austria getting accustomed to everything and meeting all the guys on the team. It’s been a fun week of learning and experiencing the culture first hand while out here. Everyone works hard and has an attitude to get better each day! 

AFI: What went into the process of making the move from the GFL to the ELF, and what led you to sign with the Raiders out of all teams?

Christian: The recruiting process this year was interesting because my mindset after the Cologne season was to shoot for the stars and try to get a CFL or XFL shot.  Montreal reached out to me but nothing concrete came from it.  Jarvis and I then actually had a private workout with the Vegas Vipers so we were waiting on a decision from them so I had to put a pause on overseas teams. The Raiders reached out early and fortunately were able to wait for me to make a full decision. Jarvis committed first and then after a few weeks went by without receiving a concrete look for the XFL I decided to also commit.  I was super excited to land such an established program with the Raiders and finally commit and get all the weight off my shoulders. I also knew that the ELF was definitely now without a doubt the most competitive league in Europe and I wanted to accept the challenge to showcase my talents in it. 

Jarvis: The process from switching to the ELF from the GFL was the easiest thing ever. Being one of the best players in the GFL last year, a few coaches reached out and showed their interest in me. I could’ve gone to the ELF the past two seasons, but I didn’t feel it was the right time.  For me to sign with the Raiders it just felt right. Coach K and Coach Callahan made me feel wanted.  They contacted me daily to show how interested they were in me.  I believed every word Coach K said to me and I believe in the team.  The Tirol Raiders are a powerful and well connected team built off hard work since the 90s.  And I wanted to be a part of that.

Jarvis McClam - Football - Seton Hill University Athletics

Jarvis McClam was a standout at Seton Hill

AFI: Christian, obviously the team’s quarterback last season, Sean Shelton, was named the league MVP, but now he has retired and joined the Munich Ravens in their front office.  So how does it feel knowing that you’re the guy they want to fill his shoes, and how are you approaching that challenge?

Christian: It’s an amazing feeling and an honor to know that the Raiders decided to go with me as their new QB to replace the legend Sean Shelton. The coaching staff believes in me and I believe in myself to get the job done.  Sean obviously set records, won championships, and really was the guy for many years that contributed to their success. I know there’s natural pressure to fill in his shoes, but I see it more so as an opportunity to continue where they left off and earn everyone’s respect each day by putting my hard hat on and going to work. 

AFI: You’ve been teammates for a number of years now, dating back to your time in college through last season with the Crocodiles, and now you’re going to be teammates once again with the Raiders.  Tell us about how your friendship started, and what led you guys to travel around the world together playing football?

Christian: Jarvis and I go way back! This year will mark 10 years since I’ve known him, dating back to our first season together at Seton Hill University (NCAA D2) in 2013.  We both come from Christian faith homes so right away we were able to relate with that similarity.  We’ve honestly been through so much together; have been roommates throughout college, attended the same NFL pro day, played our first overseas season together in Brisbane, Australia, Cologne Crocodiles GFL1 last year, and now our first ELF season together for the Raiders.  Jarvis is a lifelong brother of mine that will continue even after football is all said and done. 

Jarvis: It started a long time ago back in 2013. We came into Seton Hill University as Freshmen. At first, I didn’t know he played quarterback because I didn’t recognize him with his helmet on. Then one day I just asked him what position he played and he told me QB.  Ever since that day we were close.  Through college we kept our relationship strong even if we weren’t playing.  Either having the same classes or even sitting together in the cafe or just having those heart to heart moments when we needed them.  In 2022 it was only right for me to join him in Cologne. I mean who wouldn’t want to play with their college QB again?  That’s what makes our chemistry so good.  It’s like I know how he is going to throw the ball and I feel he can feel the same way for me when I run my routes.

AFI: Can you describe how big it is to be joining a new team alongside a guy that you’ve known for a long time, both on and off the field?

Jarvis: I think it will be our best year yet. Another chapter of our book together.  On the field the league will know who we are. I feel the league shows favorites of certain teams, but this year they will have no choice but to open their eyes and see us.  Off the field it will be cool to explore the city of Innsbruck together.

Christian: It’s awesome to have that bond with someone because the trust level is already at an all time high, where I know he has my back and vice versa.  We also can hold each other accountable too when we might need to step it up, and being able to form that positive criticism towards one another is tough to achieve. It takes time and hardship experiences to get to that comfort level with someone.

AFI: Outside of the quarterback position, the Raiders joined the ELF last year and made it to the playoffs in their first season, so how excited are you to be joining this team and what about the team makes you think they can have success again this season?

Christian: I’m grateful to be joining this team and building on what they’ve already accomplished last year.  We both lost in the semi-finals in our respective seasons; I’m a firm believer in always improving each year, as are the Raiders.  This team brought back many homegrown starters and depth players, along with some great import players and coaching additions too.  In my eyes we have all the weapons and tools to be successful and go all the way, but taking it one day at a time, getting 1% better, and staying healthy of course is the focus as the season progresses. 

Photo: Ben Cziesla

Jarvis: I’m excited to join the team because I know exactly how they felt when they lost their playoff game.  Christian and I were in the same position in the GFL.  We lost the game just before the German Bowl.  So I know the team is hungry and we don’t want to feel that way anymore.  So there is unfinished business.  I think we will be back again this year.  From the talks that I’ve had with my teammates already via Zoom or Instagram I can tell they are ready. 

AFI: In general, what are you most excited about moving to Innsbruck, Austria and being able to travel throughout Europe with your team this season?

Jarvis: I’m excited to just see the mountains in the city.  I know the pictures don’t do them any justice.  For the season I’m excited to play in different countries. The place that I’m looking forward to the most is Barcelona.  I heard the atmosphere there is crazy.

Christian: I’m most excited to play in front of the fans in Tivoli Stadium and experience that football atmosphere with the beautiful mountains surrounding me!  I can’t wait to win games with my teammates and form that brotherhood with them! 

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.