Kenny Bell has not had the professional football career he envisioned. Bell’s father played in the NFL, Kenny was a high school star, at Nebraska he was first-team All-Big Ten and became the Cornhuskers’ all-time leader in receiving yards. He was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2015, but a series of injuries kept him from ever taking the field in an NFL game. When he was injured once again in Broncos training camp in August, that looked like the end of his playing career.
But then the Alliance of American Football came calling. Bell signed last fall with the Salt Lake Stallions of the AAF, and he finally got on the field when the Stallions made their debut last night.
On Twitter after the game, Bell described what that meant to him.
“Words don’t do justice to the overwhelming amount of appreciation I am feeling,” Bell wrote. “Tonight was the first time I got to play football in a real game in over four years. It certainly was not the outcome I wanted for my team but it would be shameful of me not to acknowledge the unbelievable amount of love and support I have received throughout the day and night. To any and all fans: I appreciate you! Your words of support throughout the years are truly appreciated. To my friends & family: Thank you from the deepest part of my heart. It’s been a brutal four years chasing this dream and tonight you all blessed me with the greatest feeling of love and support one could ask for.”
Whether the AAF proves popular enough with fans to stick around for the long haul remains to be seen. But it is an undeniably great opportunity for a lot of talented football players who never quite got their careers off the ground.