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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Caden Sierra
Caden Sierra
Sports Writer

Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Where are they now: former Wildcat lineman Rob Boss

From professional head coaches to Olympic gold medalists and champions in their respective fields, a fair share of notable sports figures have spent time at Northern Michigan University.

Many of those alumni are now pursuing their dreams beyond the collegiate level. The NorthWind will make an attempt to contact these individuals and bring you their stories throughout the year.

After former NMU lineman Rob Boss left Northern, he played a season with the Green Bay Blizzard of arenafootball2 (af2), where he collected 22 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception.

After the conclusion of the 2006 af2 season, Boss signed with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League (AFL).

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In his rookie AFL season Boss caught two passes for touchdowns and added three tackles.

Currently between campaigns, Boss is living in Green Bay and coaching linebackers at St. Norbert College.

NorthWind sports editor Kyle Whitney recently spoke with Boss.

Kyle Whitney: You played with the Blizzard in af2 straight out of college. What is the af2/AFL system like and how was your time there?

Rob Boss: Af2 is basically the minor league of the AFL. It’s a lot like the AAA of the AFL, as far as baseball is concerned, except each team is not affiliated with an AFL team. It’s independent in that way. You are not signed with an AFL team, you’re signed with an af2 team.

KW: How long did it take to adjust to that level of play?

RB: It takes a week or two to kind of get adjusted. After a couple of weeks, you kind of get used to it and you kind of start working at that speed. It’s kind of learning through immersion there.

KW: After the 2006 season, you signed a 3-year contract with the AFL’s Chicago Rush, the team that had won the 2006 Arena Bowl. What was that experience like?

RB: Last October I was taking some classes at Northern and I went down for a workout and I was offered a contract by them and it was exciting for me, because that was kind of my goal. The reason behind going to af2 and leaving Northern was basically to receive a contract from the AFL. That was a real exciting time for me.

KW: How did the AFL differ from both af2 and D-II ball?

RB: It was basically another step up, as far as the speed of the game goes. It was a whole other gear, as opposed to af2, which was faster than Division-II. It was very comparable to the high school-to-college jump. It was just another speed to get used to.

KW: The AFL seems to put a lot of work into creating a distinct environment for their games. What is it like to play in that environment?

RB: It’s a fantastic atmosphere to play in. The fans are right on top of you. It almost brings a little bit of the basketball-type fan base into it, to the point that they are right on top of you. It’s very exciting, very loud and it was a blast. We sold out almost every game in Chicago and they are great fans. It was a lot of fun to play in front of those guys.

KW: Fan interaction is a large part of the game and some fans have been known to leap onto the wall or even the field in an attempt to get the ball. Have you see much of that first-hand?

RB: We don’t have anything near that extreme during any of our games. A couple of times we’ve had different fans that have been pretty aggressive as far as getting balls. One of the things that the AFL does is that if a ball goes in the stands, you can keep it. A lot of times, receivers are run into the boards and are down and the fans can get pretty aggressive as far as trying to take the ball from the receiver so that they have a ball to take home. That was probably the most extreme case that I saw personally.

KW: In college you played left tackle, then defensive line, then you shifted back to the offensive line. I know that positions are different in the AFL. Which do you play now and which is your favorite?

RB: I played both sides of the ball for Green Bay and the AFL actually had a rule change before my first season with Chicago that allowed for free substitutions, so it was actually a lot more like the outdoor game as far as offensive linemen and defensive linemen. I played a position in AFL called tight end. There are three offensive linemen: a guard, a center and a tight end. You basically have two guards, but the tight end is technically eligible and can go out for passes. It doesn’t happen very often, but can. I played tight end.

KW: As you move on, what are your playing aspirations?

RB: The aspiration is always to make it to the NFL and if I can get a tryout with an NFL team and make it with them-that is the ultimate aspiration. Playing in the AFL has been a fantastic experience and one that I would not be upset with as far as doing that for the rest of my career. Obviously, if the opportunity to play in the NFL came up, that would be something that I would jump at.

KW: While at NMU, you majored in secondary education with a focus on chemistry and math. With that type of educational background, what do you hope to achieve in the future?

RB: I hope to be able to teach chemistry and perhaps coach at the high school level or something like that. I’m really kind of keeping my options open as far as what I really want to do, but the initial plan was to become a chemistry teacher and perhaps coach or something like that.

KW: Who most influenced your playing career and the position you are in now?

RB: I would say our defensive line coach/strength and conditioning coach, Bobby Jurasin. [He] probably influenced my life the most when I was at Northern.

KW: Why is that?

RB: He really kind of taught me the toughness part of the game and his connections were what kind of got me started on this path that got me into Green Bay and stuff like that. He has always kind of been there for me, as a kind of tutor, someone that I can call and ask questions to. Someone that has played in the CFL for 12 years and someone that I always looked up to and kind of wanted to model myself after.

KW: How did your time at NMU affect you on a whole?

RB:My time at NMU was a changing experience for me, coming from a small high school, coming in and learning a lot about different aspects of different things, as far as football and life in general. It was a great experience with the people that I met and the coaches that I had. They all taught me to be the person that I am.

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