On the field, the Arizona Rattlers are the Copper State's most successful sports franchise. Last season they finished with a 13-5 record and won a third Arena Bowl, and this season the Rattlers have dominated Western Conference, claiming the number one seed in this year's playoffs.
Despite all their achievements on the gridiron, the Rattlers are much more than just a football team.
It's not uncommon for sports teams to have a little locker room strife, but the Rattlers don't have those issues. In fact, this arena team is extremely close. The Rattlers' players seem to genuinely love playing ball and being around each other.
As the team gears up for another run toward the Arena Bowl, a few players and coaches talked with Jackalope Ranch about how they stay busy (and entertained) off the field. The Rattlers will play the Spokane Shock at US Airways Center August 10 in the National Conference Championship game.
And these guys don't stop hanging out once everyone leaves the locker room. Quarterback Nick Davila, who is having an MVP-caliber year, says his team is big on bonding.
"We get along great and hang out a ton," he says. "Usually, it's a group thing and we're really big into barbecuing. There's always a barbecue going on, and a lot of us have kids so we try and get them involved, too."
As the average player's weight on the team is around 250 pounds it's not surprising that a lot of team activities involve food.
Defensive end Cliff Dukes says, "We'll go out together and do some fun stuff. Everyone loves buffets. With so many big guys on the team buffets are one of our favorite things to do. We can just eat and eat."
Though these guys love food, being in their 20s and 30s, they also like to go around and experience some of the nightlife the Valley has to offer.
"Sometimes we'll go out after a game," Dukes says. "Maybe we'll hit up a few clubs in Scottsdale or an after-party. Majerle's is always a fun place to go. And usually it's the veterans dragging everyone all around town."
The Rattlers venture to all kinds of different spots, from clubs to Buffalo Wild Wings, so its likely you might see them out one night, especially, as Dukes said, at Majerle's. After every home game the team goes there to meet fans.
Though the Rattlers enjoy eating and drinking their way around town a lot of their fun comes from locker room high jinx.
Their record might seem like they think football 24/7, but one of the reasons this team plays so well is because of the mellow nature of the locker room. Guys are always cracking jokes, trying to keep the mood light.
No matter what's happening on the field, or off it, there's always one guy in the thick of it all cracking jokes: defensive back Marquis Floyd.
"Marquis is definitely the funniest guy in the locker room," says Tyre Glasper. "He is loud and I mean like in your face kind of loud. He's always got something to say and is always singing. Even though he's really loud, he actually has a good voice. Sometimes he'll just bust out and start singing."
Glasper says Floyd doesn't just use his voice to be funny.
"One time, during an away game, Floyd dressed up in '70s attire. He had the bright colored shirt and everything. And he only buttoned three buttons, so you could see his chest hair hanging out."
Since these guys spend so much time together it would unnatural if a prank or two weren't pulled. And in the Rattlers locker room there are always a few pranks being pulled.
No matter if the game is away or at home, Duke says there is always pranking going on.
"We do a lot of pranks when guys are sleeping on road trips a lot. We will take ice water and dump it on someone when they are sleeping, and stuff like that. Someone's clothes or sheets are always being stolen."
Dukes knows that once he steps into the locker room he has to watch his back.
"[My teammates] haven't gotten me yet, but I know my time is coming. They always let me know that and I have to keep my eyes open."
As to who he has to watch out for? Everybody in the locker room seems to pitch in, but the quarterback thinks he strikes the most fear into his teammates.
"Everyone's has got to watch out for me," laughs Davila. "I am always playing pranks on the guys. A lot of the stuff we do is PG-13 or R, but we still have fun. There's a lot of stuff that goes on, but I gotta keep it classy."
Aside from Davila, fullback Odie Armstrong is the guy everyone has to watch out for. No matter what any of the players are doing, Armstrong always manages a way to prank someone.
"You leave your locker to go to the bathroom or watch film and it wont be the same when you get back," Glasper recalls. "He's either emptying out and dumping it on the floor or rearranging it, moving to a different part of the locker room, all kinds of stuff."
Don't think that these guys are just pranking each other. These football players' tomfoolery stretches to the media, too.
"One of the most memorable pranks was when Marquis twisted the lid off of a water bottle and gave it to a reporter," recounts Davila. "The reporter didn't realize and the water splashed all over him. That was pretty funny."
Even Hall of Fame Head Coach Kevin Guy thinks a lighter attitude on the field is important. Coach Guy will even stop practice and do something a little... different.
"Nick was jawing a little with coach about how slow Nick was. And Nick told him 'I'm faster than you.' Coach Guy was like 'show me,' and they raced. Coach Guy smoked him. It wasn't even close."
That's just who the Rattlers are: a happy, joking group of guys who love playing football with each other. And what's the point of sports if you're not going to have some fun with them?
The locker room certainly has no problems bringing a little more fun to the game of football. With this kind of team chemistry, its no wonder the Rattlers are the top dogs in the AFL.
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"Its like we are all related," Glasper says. "We a get along and we have a great group of core guys."
Tickets to the Rattlers' August 10 game are $10 and up via www.ticketmaster.com. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.